Producing clean fleeces is a year-round project
I'm a handspinner myself, and truly appreciate the value of a fleece that's clean and a joy to handle.

Some practices that help keep SkyLines fleeces clean while they're still on the sheep

  • Mowing pastures and utilizing intense rotational grazing. Both practices dramatically reduce weed seeds that can stick to a fleece like Velcro.
  • Grazing the rough areas of the farm with a small herd of 11 cashmere goats and Peaches the guard donkey. This helps keep weeds from spreading to the pastures.
  • Designing winter feeding racks that reduce the amount of hay falling on the sheep's backs.
  • Feeding winter hay outside on clean fresh snow whenever possible.
  • Being extremely fussy about the quality of winter bedding straw.
  • Rotating winter loafing yards, so the sheep aren't standing or lying in deep mud or manure.

Heavy skirting of fleeces at shearing time catches any VM that did make it in
Skirting is the term for the process of removing the parts of a fleece that may be contaminated with VM (vegetable matter). VM might be hay, straw, oats, manure, or weed seeds, thistles, or other nasty stuff that can attach itself to wool.

On SkyLines' shearing day, each fleece is heavily skirted by the shearing crew as soon as it comes off the sheep. We've been known to skirt off as much as 25-30% of a fleece, just to make sure that it's clean enough to meet my standards. Later, I personally go over each fleece a second time before boxing it up and shipping it to its new owner. None of this skirted wool is ever wasted, though. I use the skirtings as fantastic organic mulch in all the gardens and at the base of every tree seedling that I plant on the farm.

Why you don't want excessive VM in a handspinning fleece
Commercial wool destined for sale in huge quantities is often washed in strong chemical-laden soaps that dissolve both dirt and VM very effectively. But, many handspinners choose to wash their one-of-a-kind, premium handspinning fleeces themselves using gentle soaps like Ivory Liquid, Dawn, or Orvis paste. These products clean dirt out of wool very well, leaving it soft and fresh, ready to spin, but they're just not designed to dissolve VM.

It's simply not worth the effort to spend precious hours of your life washing, picking, carding and spinning a fleece, only to end up with yarn that's prickly due to annoying little bits of straw or thistle embedded in the fibers. Most spinners have a story of at least one "nightmare fleece" that they struggled with in the past, and if you've ever had a fleece filled with VM, you definitely don't want to repeat the experience!

The cleanliness of SkyLines fleeces will surprise and delight you - just have a look at some of our customer comments.

View SkyLines' fleece list
To see detailed descriptions and photos of each of SkyLines' natural-colored and white fleeces, check out the
Handspinning Fleeces page.


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SkyLines Farm 4551 Highway 6 Harvard, ID 83834 208.875.8747
Purebred Romney & Romney-Cross Sheep