Wovember Words: Finding the Real Thing

This morning for WOVEMBER WORDS we are again delving into the Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook by Deb Robson and Carol Ekarius. An invaluable treasure trove of sheepy wisdom, this tome contains oodles of information about WOOL and animal fibres. Today we shall share some of the sage advice provided in the book on the issue of finding special fleeces to process at home. We wanted to share this because as well as discussing how to access raw fleece with which to work, there is some great stuff here about developing better relationships between producers and consumers of WOOL and supporting small producers through our buying choices.

Deb Robson meeting Valais Blacknose sheep, photo © Jeni Reid

Deb Robson meeting Valais Blacknose sheep, photo © Jeni Reid

Finding the Real Thing

…If you are a spinner looking for raw fleece rather than yarn, you may be intrigued by some of the breeds that we mention that are not grown in your region – or even in your country or continent! Occasionally you’ll find wools from outside your area being imported by vendors who have booths at fiber festivals, or offered by mail order and INternet suppliers who market primarily to your part of the world. However, fleece, like yarn, can also be purachsed internationally. The British Wool Marketing Board offers hand-selected fleeces for sale to handspinners during the shearing season. We also purchased raw fibers and yarns from eBay, Etsy and Local Harvest, as well as from the websites of individual shepherds and custom mills. When it comes to eBay, check out the eBay sites in other countries (listed on the bottom of the eBay home page) as well as those from the country you live in.

Overall, our internet shopping experience was successful and satisfying: We found some absolutely marvelous fleeces, yarns, and products through these sites. But we also had a couple of disappointments. In those cases, the person selling the fleece wasn’t the shepherd or even a real fiber enthusiast, and we hope the person who sent is what was, in at least one case, just trash, didn’t know enough to realise that the fleece was poor quality. We corresponded with this seller, who was quite apologetic and offered to refund our money. If you do get a poor-quality fleece, take the time to let the supplier know.

We especially want to encourage you to look at some of the products that are available in the global marketplace that are constructed by people in other parts of the world from breed-specific or other identifiable natural fibers. We had great fun shopping for some of these specialty items, which adorn the pages that follow.

Experiencing (and Saving) the Real Thing

We like to think that as our readers seek out breed-specific fibers, yarns, and finished products, these will become even more readily available. As we all learn more and take time to obtain these special textile materials and fabrics, an important side-effect is that the people who are raising the animals will benefit from the additional support and will feel our encouragement of their invaluable work in caring for their critters. In order to continue to have these irreplaceable resources available for our pleasure and delight, we need to support the living infrastructure of animals and people that makes their existence possible.

‘The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook’ by Deborah Robson & Carol Ekarius, published by Storey Publishing., USA, 2011

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This entry was posted by Felicity Ford.

One thought on “Wovember Words: Finding the Real Thing

  1. Yes, I keep championing the shepherd, Kate Graham, at Shankend Farm in the Borders Scotland. I have gotten 3 fleeces from her. LOVE them all…Herdwick, Ryeland and Hebridean.

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