What to do with your fiber?

Now you’ve gotten your animals shorn for the year — what next!? There are many options to use the fiber that your animal grows – and as long as you have your animals, shearing will be necessary and you will be then gifted with bags of fiber!  So why not do something creative with it! Here are just a few ideas:

SELL IT RAW

Online:

At Fiber Festivals (each festival has its own rules about fiber entries – note that I’ve only mentioned the festivals in the mid-Atlantic region; however there are fiber festivals all over the country):

Sell to individual spinners:

Find out where local spinning guilds meet and ask if their spinners are interested in acquiring fiber. Many hand spinners really enjoy knowing exactly what animals their fiber came from.

White sheep’s wool only:

Take it to your local wool pool where it is bought in bulk by the pound.

http://www.sheepusa.org/contacts_woolpelt_woolpools

MAKE IT SPINNABLE

There are many dozens of good mills all around the country that process both wool and ‘exotic’ (fine) fibers into roving and batts. I have only tried a few and of those, I can most strongly recommend Frankenmuth Woolen Mill in Michigan (www.frankenmuthwoolenmill.com). The turnaround time is generally 3-4 months.

TURN IT INTO BEDDING

A number of woolen mills will turn your sheep’s wool into beddding: mattress pads, comforters, pillows. Wool bedding is fantastic! Again, I have used Frankenmuth with great satisfaction; however, other mills will also make these products for you.

HAVE IT SPUN INTO YARN

The cost of having a mill spin your yarn is fairly high, and often there is a minimum number of pounds per run. I have used Zeilinger in Michigan (www.zwool.com) and have been pleased with the quality and regularity of the spinning. You may also find local spinners who are willing to do hand spinning for you on a per-pound basis.

DONATE IT

My non-profit farm sanctuary (www.stargazingfarm.org) will accepted donated fiber (and gives charitable donation receipts for tax purposes); we wash and dye the donated fiber and turn it into rugs. Occasionally there are organizations that solicit raw fiber donations; you can do a web search to find out what groups are currently in the market.  You can also check with local schools; many schools have curricula that include textiles, and art programs will often use fiber for felting in classes.

Whatever you do, don’t just throw it away!

Your animal spent all year growing this fiber, so please respect this process and don’t send it to the landfill.  If the fiber is very badly matted, you can use it to kill weeds in your garden, or wrap it around seedlings to help with moisture retention.  I’ve also heard of people using wool as insulation in their houses.

If you know of more practical uses for fiber, please feel free to post them in the comments below.

2 comments on “What to do with your fiber?

  1. Exhibit your best quality fleeces at fairs and wool festivals. Set up educational displays. Use them in Ag in the classroom activities.

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