Having a fleece spun

We often get asked whether we can spin a fleece (or other fibre) and also if we know what is involved with commercial spinning. One of our members has put together some information which we hope will help.

If you have fleece and would like to have it spun there are two options:
mill spun or hand spun.

There are several mills than will spin fleece. One such is the natural wool company and they have a useful page on their website.

It was while reading this, which mentioned that a fleece producer should expect to pay a hand spinner £500 for spinning 500g of yarn suitable for a 36” size jumper that I thought I would do some sums to see where this figure came from. I am a spinner, a hand knitter and a machine knitter.

I wash my fleece using no detergent by a fermented suint method that I have adopted for my own needs.(1) Although the fleece ‘washes itself’  in rainwater it needs to be well rinsed. This is a time consuming and heavy job. Some lanolin remains in the fleece and aids the spinning. However, it will need to be washed out after spinning.

If I am machine knitting I like to use 2 ply jumper weight yarn from Shetland, this is, in old terms ‘4 ply’ thickness. I would expect to get a man’s jumper out of 500g.
25g  of this yarn is 115m
20 balls of 25g are equivalent to 2300m.
This is 2 ply so it is equivalent to 4600m of 1 ply yarn. This is what a spinner would spin.
For simplicity let’s call that 5000m.

The page from the website above, suggests that a spinner can spin 100 yards in an hour, let’s simplify that and call it 100m.

So if I need 5000 metres, a spinner would take 50 hours to do that.

So at £10an  hour, that would come to £500….which is the price quoted by The Natural Fibre for hand spinning.

The price for mill spun depends….on lots of things.
However, £33.60 per kilo (plus postage) for returned fleece is a starting price. The website gives a lot of advice and figures, for example on the amount of wastage that can be expected.

I hope this is helpful….and yes if washed by my method, time needs to be allowed for washing the yarn once spun.

My way for  ‘Fermented Suint’ method of washing fleece is described and illustrated on my blog in posts of 1 Sept 13 and 8 Feb 14. I did not invent the ‘Fermented Suint’ method, merely developed a method that works well for me.

Janet Major
February 2018

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