Examples for Evaluating Fleeces

Below are several examples of common faults found in raw fleeces. Thumbnail images link to larger photos. They are not complete and I invite you to send me examples of other faults in addition to exceptional examples. Please comment!
Below is an example of a tender fleece. With gentle tension (about 7 lb) or a light snap, this fleece breaks as shown. A fleece like this could be used by trimming the tips at the break, as long as there is enough length left for spinning. Note that is a lot of work! This fleece could be accepted in the NASSA Tartan project if there is enough length left after trimming. Trim it before sending! This example is a canary stain, so called because of the yellow color. Sometimes this stain washes out; in the raw fleece it just spreads and gets worse over time. In this case you can see the residual yellow stain in the yarn spun from washed locks. A fleece with this problem could possibly be salvaged by dyeing. Not accepted in the NASSA Tartan Project.Second cuts result not only in the short part next to the skin, but also shorter outer staple! Be sure to skirt out both the very short nubby pieces and any of the residual that is too short for our NASSA project. Short pieces left in will make pills and lumpy bits in the yarn.
Also in this example there are two locks that are cotted (felted) together at the tips. These don't come apart easily and result in broken and short fibers. They can be salvaged by trimming just like the tender fleece, as long as there is sufficient length left after trimming. Trim before sending!
This double coated example has obviously thicker fibers in the longer "outer" coat. These fibers are probably too coarse for our project. We want to have nicely wearable fabric and cuddly blankets! Notice that there are some coarser fibers in the butt (skin) end of this lock, too. Some people call these shorter, coarse fibers "kemp". They, too, result in scratchy finished projects, so if your fleece has a lot of them, please use it for sturdy projects and not this NASSA Tartan project.
This row contains examples of levels of VM in the fleece. Fleece with parts containing this much VM are probably okay for this NASSA Tartan Project. The wool will be combed before spinning which will remove most of the VM. However, more VM will cause more loss in the fiber due to knotting and breaking fibers as the VM is combed out. Handspinners are not going to be happy with this amount of VM in much of the fleece!
In the first two notice the difference that the background makes in visualizing the VM in the fibers.
These two examples (below) show unacceptable levels of VM. Losses will be high with this kind of trash in the fleece, plus the remaining fibers will be broken and torn and much more likely to pill in the product. Fleeces submitted with VM like this will be returned!These last two examples show classic kemp fibers. Kemp is a short, hollow, chalky white (but can be colored) fiber that is shed periodically in the fleece. It is coarse and doesn't dye well. Breeds like the Scottish Blackface that donated this example are expected to have kemp in their fleece and it contributes to the resilience in carpeting and other products made from Scottie wool. Shetlands should be free from kemp, so check your fleeces carefully, as kempy ones will be returned!

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