Feb 142013

Getting The Most From Your Fiber Processing Dollar

Processing refines your raw fleece and prepares it for products or gifts, either woven (yarn/knit) or non-woven (felt and felt fabric). This processing adds value to your fiber. I do everything I can to make your fiber the best it can be. But I have to be practical and cannot take so long as to delay other clients. So, I can use some help from you.

I ask that your fiber has been skirted. That means you have handled your fiber and removed, on a gross level, undesirable matter. What does this mean?

Remove foreign matter like poop, mud clumps and muddy tips, straw/hay and other veggie matter, grain pellets, rocks, toe nails, sticks, clothespins etc. Remove undesirable fiber matter like belly hair or large clumps of guard/primary, or matted fiber and shorts. Remember the old saying ‘garbage in, garbage out’. The less I start with the less there will be in what I return to you.

Skirting can save a little of your processing dollar since initial processing fees are based on INCOMING weight. But, more significant, is the quality of the processed fiber. If veggie makes its way through to the end it can negatively affect whatever its end value.

Some tips to get the most out of your fiber:

  • Cria tip if at all possible.
  • Remove or mitigate veggie and dirt contaminants around the barn, stall, paddock and pastures. Minimize pasture areas under trees. Sweep out stalls and rake paddock areas especially when getting close to shearing time.
  • Clean the animal prior to shearing. It is a lot easier to get a lot of “stuff” out of the fiber while still on the animal. Just before shearing some people use a leaf blower (do this outside the barn). We like to use a shop-vac and do it inside the barn. Either of these gets significant dust, dirt and veggie off the fleece. BTW, your shearer will thank you too!
  • Already shorn. Either use a fiber sorter or do a quick skirt.
  • Sweep or vacuum the shearing area between animals.
  • Tips up. Look for muddy tips, excessive guard/primary hairs, and of course veggie matter.
  • Cut end up (tips down) look for short cuts, skin or skin flakes.  I like to grab a bunch of fiber and gently pull at the cut ends with my fingers. Shorts come right off.

Then, finally, when getting ready to bag up to send to processing, handle all the fiber. Quick and easy way is to grab handfuls (not too much) and squeeze. You will be surprised how easily you can find veggie (crunch-crunch) or other stuff that you missed on visual inspection.

Remember to make sure the fleece has dried and is not wet before you tighten or seal the bag. If long term storing I like to put a dryer sheet in each bag to help deter moths and other bugs.

Bagging your fleece
I prefer clear plastic bags. Not the milky white or black garbage bags.  For some reason the milky white bags create a lot more static than the clear ones. And I want to see what is in the bag.

Put your name, animal name and any pertinent info on a sheet of paper or 3×5 card in the bag so I can easily see it from the outside. Over communication is good. So if you want to write info on the bag also, great!

Shipping / Transporting
If shipping or transporting you can save a lot of space by removing as much air from the bag as possible. Shipping charges are based on space more than weight. USPS Parcel Post seems to be the most economical in my experience.

I hope this helps. Feel free to contact us at (425) 248-8967 with questions or to discuss further.

Now sit back and your (even more) beautiful fiber will be coming back to you soon!


Evergreen Fleece Processing, LLC