A family run woollen mill, specialising in small flock fibre processing

Your fleece

To help achieve the best result from your fleece we recommend you read through this guide. If you have any questions, either about your fleece or the processing, please get in touch, we love to chat about fibre!

To get the best return from your fleece there are lots of things you can do, at all stages from animal care to preparing your fleece for sending. This guide will walk you through them; you might choose to take some, or all, of the steps.

Animal care

The main thing to look for is ways to limit vegetable matter (bits of hay, grass seeds, gorse twigs etc) and dirt in the fleece. This can be tricky, but some ideas include:

  • Offer field shelters to discourage use of hedges as shelter.
  • Topping fields to limit thistles, grass seed heads etc.
  • Feed hay at low level rather than from above where it will drop down onto the fleece.
  • Before shearing you may choose to bring your animals inside, or onto a concrete yard, overnight so they are “empty” for shearing, try to keep them clean by providing plenty of space so they do not lie in poo stained areas. They may pick up some straw in the fleeces.
  • Try to limit their access to very dirty areas, sand pits and diatomaceous earth dust baths in the time prior to shearing – your shearer will appreciate this too.
  • Avoid use of marker sprays on the areas of fleece you wish to have spun.


At shearing time let your shearer know you are going to be sending your fleece for spinning, they should look to maintain the fibre length and avoid second cuts.

Prepare your shearing and fleece rolling areas so you are working on clean surfaces and will not pick up any extra bits of dirt or vegetation on the fleece – most shearers will work on a board or trailer, keep it swept for them between sheep; use a clean board or tarpaulin to roll your fleeces for storage. Once rolled, bag the fleeces so they do not pick up extra dirt.

If you have multiple colours of sheep start with the lightest and work through to the darkest. Sweep the working areas well between colour groups to avoid bits of fleece contaminating the next colour batch. Bag different fleece colours separately.

Choosing and checking your fleece

If you have lots of fleeces to choose from, pick the best ones to get the best end result from your processing. The fibre from younger animals often, although not always, gives the softest results.

Please check your fleece will be suitable for processing by reading through the information below.

There are some limitations on what we can process:

  • Our machines will not spin fibres under 5 cm / 2” or over 18 cm / 7”. 
  • Very fine fibres, for example fine grade alpaca, merino, some Shetland, may not process well. Please get in touch to discuss this.
  • Fleeces must not have been treated with any insecticides (Click, Clickzin, Crovect, Molecto etc) within three months of shearing.
  • We cannot take felted fleeces.
  • Fleece should be clean, dry and free from moth infestation, faeces, large amounts of straw/vegetation, or foreign matter.

Once you have chosen your fleece check it for fibre strength using the “snap test”:

  • Grab a lock from the fleece by the tip end and pull it out.
  • Hold an end of the lock in each hand.
  • Bring your hands slightly together, then snap them sharply apart.
  • If the fleece is “tender” it will show signs of breaking, or may rip in half completely

Tender fleeces are not suitable for spinning as they will tear during processing. This leads to a large amount of wastage and may not be spinnable, depending on the length of the fibres once they are broken. Please get in touch to discuss if you are not sure how to check this.

Sheep of some breeds, such as Shetland, may retain the genetics to shed, or roo, their fleece and can have weak spots in the fibres if shorn. If your sheep have this tendency you will get the best processing results if you roo the fleece. If shorn the fleece may have higher wastage in processing and may not be spinnable, please get in touch to discuss.

We reserve the right to refuse any fleece which we feel is of unsuitable quality.

Preparing your fleece

It is recommended that you skirt your fleece before sending it to remove as much unsuitable material as possible; as you will be paying on incoming weight you will get a better return on your fleece.

To skirt your fleece:

  • Unroll the fleece on a large clean surface. If you have a mesh surface, such as a mesh panel on trestle legs, this will allow dirt and short bits of fibre to fall away.
  • Work around the edges removing any sections of fleece contaminated with faeces or excessive grease (these are very good for the garden!).
  • Remove any felted sections. These often occur around the neck and top of the shoulders.
  • Remove any sections stained with marker spray.
  • Remove any sections of fleece that are shorter or have rougher fibres (guard hairs).
  • Remove as much vegetation as possible across the fleece.
  • Shake the fleece to remove as many short cuts as possible.

If you are storing your fleeces for some time you may wish to give them a light wash. Please use cold water only and no soap to reduce the risk of felting – we cannot take felted fibres. Follow these steps:

  • Thoroughly skirt your fleece as above.
  • Fill a large tub with cold water, a large muck bucket in the garden is suggested, using the bath is often unpopular with the rest of the household. If you have a particularly large fleece you may wish to split it into sections.
  • Wearing washing up gloves, submerge the fleece in the tub. Squish it down but do not agitate.
  • Leave to soak overnight.
  • Lift the fleece out of the tub and drain well. The water is great for the garden.
  • Dry thoroughly in the sunshine – do not store fleeces damp!

We will scour your fleece before processing to remove more dirt and lanolin (if applicable).

We cannot take fleeces that have been hot washed.

Fleeces are best stored in paper or fabric bags. Ensure they are kept dry and moth free during storage.

Sending us your fleece

Fleece should be delivered to us by prior arrangement in clean, sealed, identifiable bags. Please attach a fibre processing order form to each individual bag. It is recommended you place a second copy of the form inside each bag.

Fleeces may be delivered by carrier or in person (by prior appointment).

If you wish to “vac pack” your fleeces for easier shipping we will return the bags with your finished fibre/yarn. Please label the bags with your contact details.