On each product page you’ll see a “wool type” listed along with the product description. There are many breeds and cross breeds of sheep that can have traits of two (or more!) of these groups, so do be sure to read the description of each product page carefully – I describe the specific characteristics of each fleece there.
- These wools are strong and lustrous, having lots of shine, and are excellent for worsted preps. They have long staples, and wavy, curly locks, and are a great choice for beginning and experienced handspinners alike. With a range of micron counts, they long wools have a wide range of uses. Example breeds are Romney, Lincoln, and Border Leicester.
- Fine wools are your classic soft wools – Merino, Rambouillet, Cormo, etc. They have low micron counts and are excellent for wearing next to the skin. They generally have a higher lanolin content, shorter staple lengths, and the whole fleece is relatively consistent. What you gain in softness however, you lose in strength – these wools aren’t ideal for garments that need to stand up to a lot of abuse like socks or outer garments.
- Medium wools are excellent for beginning spinners, having both a medium staple length and micron count, making them easier to handle for those learning the mechanics of spinning. Examples of breeds in this category are Finn, Corriedale, and Tunis.
- Down wools are an interesting group – mostly bred and farmed for meat, they have often been overlooked for handspinning, but they have a lot to offer. Ranging from softer to coarser wools, they are difficult to felt, making them a great choice for hard wearing garments like socks and outer garments. Breeds with lower micron counts are excellent for shawls, toques, and tops. Examples in this group are Cheviot, Dorset, and Suffolk.
Storing your raw wool
Your big things to worry about with long-term storage of your fleece (more than a year) are pests and deterioration from being out in the elements. If you plan on storing your fleece for a while, your best bet is to clean it first. If this isn’t possible for you, make sure it’s in a breathable container, out of the weather, and sealed to keep moths, rodents, and beetles at bay.