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Tips for Wool Farmers


Tips For Producers New to Selling Fleece to Individual Crafters

Any fleece sold directly to crafters to be hand processed is exempt from the British Wool Marketing Board scheme. This is also true for British rare breeds. If you’re not certain your fleece falls into this category, do check with the BWMB, especially where cross breeding is involved. For the purpose of these informal guidelines, the term “crafter” is taken to mean a hand-spinner, weaver, or anyone producing their own yarns or fleece items, by hand, largely using traditional, craft skills.

As a producer you have choices. Offer raw fleece as seen, straight from the animal for less money, or secure the best price by investing a bit of time on selected fleece. The following tips may be useful.


  1. Before shearing, select your animals carefully. Consider the previous year. Stress, extreme weather conditions, difficult lambing, late shearing or illness, all affect the quality of the fleece.

  2. If you are intending to sell breed specific fleece, then that fleece must reflect the accepted breed specific characteristics. These can be found from the relevant breed society or from BWMB.

  3. Ensure your shearer and wrapper both know the fleece is for hand spinning. Ideally it should come off in one cut. Shear your selected animals on a clean shed floor free from hay, straw and wood shavings. A good fleece can be spoiled by farmyard contamination. Use clean boards or sheeting of some sort if out on the hill, or in the field. Experienced producers running mixed flocks will often shear the selected animals first to avoid any cross contamination.

  4. Check the staple length of the cut fleece. Spread the fleece outside up on a clean table. Select a small sample lock. Hold the tip firmly with the fingers of one hand and the end in the other. Snap the lock tightly. If the fibres break in the middle, it’s not sound and should not be sold for spinning. The breed specification will indicate the expected staple length.

  5. Next, the fleece must be skirted. (Look on YouTube if you’re not sure) All faecal contamination, vegetation, insect casing, matted or felted bits, raddle or spray marks, should be removed. This minimises the spread of disease, and infection for the crafter. It is absolutely essential if you are intending to mail a fleece to your customer. Postal regulations prohibit sending bio-hazard by post.    

  6. Check the underside carefully. Turn the fleece over in one piece. Take out any remaining bits of vegetation. Remove short tufts of fleece caused by second cutting and nibs (the little knots of new wool found next to the skin) Check for evidence of scurf or dandruff, this is particularly unpleasant for spinners who work with raw wool. Soft fleece should be kemp free. (Kemp, easily recognisable coarse hair, that is usually paler than the rest of the fleece). Obviously this does not apply where kemp is an accepted feature of the fleece descriptor.

Tips for Wool Farmers


Selected fleece intended for sale are best kept in labelled, hessian or paper sacks, stored in a dry well ventilated, rodent free, shed or barn.


Crafters like to know...

  • Producer’s contact details

  • Farm address or area where the sheep are reared

  • Animal’s biography, breed, sex, age, name, number etc. Identification is important as spinners will often re-order sheep specific fleece. You need to be aware that crafters will usually include the animal’s details in their own product information. It may be useful to check this with your buyer.

  • Staple length in cm

  • Producer accreditation details e.g. Organic, Environmental Stewardship, Breed Society membership, Conservation Grazing Scheme, Hill Farm Sustainability, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, National Parks, Farm Assurance (Red Tractor) Rare Breed Survival Trust etc.  

  • Weight of cleaned fleece in kg

  • Date of last dipping and the chemical used.

Welsh Mountain Sheep





Will pay for quality fleece, properly prepared. Hand spinning in particular, is extremely labour intensive. An experienced hand spinner will often ask to visit the producer, check the conditions the animal has been raised and where the fleece has been stored.

Provide a clean table for the fleece to be opened out and checked on site.


Experienced spinners will check the length of the staple and how it feels through the fingers.

Largely determined by breed. A look at the current fleece prices being offered by BWMB is a good starting point. Compare that with other fleece sellers’ online advertisements or by checking out with your local Weavers Spinners & Dyers Guild. (Don’t forget to factor in delivery costs). Your spinner will probably come with an idea of a fair price.

Tips for Wool Farmers

Sourcing good fleece can be a challenging and time consuming task. Spinners look for good relationships with reliable producers of quality fleece. Your spinners will stay loyal to you once they are confident in your ability to provide what they need.

Spinners do not want to pay for dirty, unusable fleece. Regardless of their skill, poor quality fleece will never result in top quality, hand-crafted work. The wool crafters’ world is a small one. As a fleece producer, your reputation is important. You will quickly lose, all credibility if you cut corners!


  1. If you have pedigree sheep, let the relevant breed society know what you’re selling. They will have enquiries from crafters and will be able to link sellers with buyers

  2. Depending on your farm location, you could put a sign at the gate to advertise you’re selling fleece for hand-spinning

  3. Alert the UK Association of Guilds of Weaver Spinners and Dyers Guilds that you have prepared fleece for sale. They have nationwide guilds and affiliated groups and will be able to signpost you to your local groups

  4. Your local craft shops may be prepared to display your cards. Ask first and look round to see the standard of other producers’ cards. These do range from simple handwritten contact numbers to far more artistic electronic versions. A fancy advertisement does not necessarily translate into a fancy fleece, but your card does need to stand out and catch the eye!

  5. When first contemplating selling fleece to crafters, do go to one of the big wool events. In Wales, the biggest is Wonderwool, held annually at the Royal Welsh Showground around April. The show will give you a good idea of the breadth and diversity of crafters needs and the quality of what they are looking for from producers. It takes place before shearing and will give you an idea of the added value, fleece could potentially realise. This may well help with planning your approach.

  6. Once you’re secure in your product, local craft events, agricultural shows and country fairs are good places to display fleece.

Tips for Wool Farmers


Selected fleece intended for sale are best kept in labelled, hessian or paper sacks, stored in a dry well ventilated, rodent free, shed or barn.


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