Of Fleece Sorting and Tidy Cats

Acquisition of fleece #2 has forced me to acknowledge the existence of fleece #1.

Fleece #1 was a gift from a friend. A very kind gift full of manure and mystery. I’m not even sure what breed it is. Possibly Rambouillet, but I can’t say for certain.

Fleece #1 has been sitting in my basement, carefully wrapped in thick tarp, for 6 months. In all that time, I have avoided it. I have not even opened it. My friend warned me that it came “as-is,” unskirted and full of barnyard.  It is now time for it to emerge. I must drag it out into the harsh light of day and begin the sorting.


Waugh! It’s a good thing that fleece was tightly wrapped. Open, you can smell the barnyard it came from.  I’m surprised my cats left this thing alone.

fleece 2

One thing I noticed right away: this fleece has a lot more gunk in it than my lovely show fleece.

  • Vegetable matter. Check.
  • Chunks of manure. Check.
  • Random bits of white fleece from other sheep (how did that get in there?). Check.
  • Matted, felted disgusting mystery fiber. Check.

Sorting this was going to be a real challenge for me. My first fleece skirting. Yikes. I’m pretty clear on that things that MUST be thrown away (see above). I’m pretty clear on the bits of long and cleanish fleece that I should keep. I’m sort of clueless about the large sections of in-between fleece. Are some of these salvageable? Just how much grime can wool wash reasonably remove? I started by throwing away a bunch of the questionable fleece…then starting keeping that stuff instead. I may be sorry later, but I hate to waste stuff that I could have saved.

Sorting this fleece took me almost two hours. Agh. Other people with more experience must be more efficient. What took me two hours probably takes them five minutes.

The portions of fleece I decided to keep fit comfortably into three clean Tidy Cats litter buckets. (FINALLY, a use for our towering stash!)  One more litter bucket was used to store fleece #2 (very tightly packed).  It’s really rather amazing how tightly one can pack a fleece. I could have packed fleece #1 much more tightly than I did but, to be honest, after two hours sorting it, I just wanted to shove it into a bucket and be done.

tidy cats

The next step is washing. More on that in the coming days.


  1. Just don’t be afraid to be aggressive with the tossing of the bad stuff. So many times I’ll just try to save bits that shouldn’t be saved. But those sheep, they keep growing wool. Looks like a stunning color even though it is extra work.

    (And I sort for hours and hours before washing, generally also separating and lining up every lock in neat little rows. It may take hours but it also takes hours off the post wash processing time as well.)

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