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Fiber Collection at Shearing

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It’s shearing time! All the beautiful fiber that we have waited a year in anticipation for will soon be in bags and ready for processing. We have found there are a few steps that can be done during shearing that will help lessen the amount of time spent skirting and cleaning later.  

Before the animal is sheared, take a few seconds to gently brush off any loose veggie matter and remove thistles or sticks.  Use this hands-on time to evaluate the blanket fiber for what end product you would like made from it. Make a note of any decisions you make, to use when you are preparing the fiber for processing.

Make sure the shearing area is clean to avoid adding things that you would only have to pick out later.  Keep the area free of hay or other veggie matter and clean up any stray fibers, poop, and toe nails from the previous animal.  

Skirt and sort the fiber as you collect it from the shearing area - this step will save so much time later! Most shearers will let you know what pieces are “firsts” (blanket fiber) as they are taking it off the animal. Remove any hairy or matted areas before putting the blanket into the designated bag, keeping in mind the type of fiber you would like in your yarn. The pieces you removed can be added into the bag of “seconds”.

“Seconds” (neck and leg fiber) can be collected by individual animal or in groups by similar color or softness, depending on your plans for processing. 

The lower leg fiber or “thirds” are usually too short or hairy to process and can be used as mulch or thrown away.

With only a few minutes spent on each fleece at shearing, and there is no need to skirt again. The bags are ready to go straight to the processor!



Spring Harvest Fiber Mill is a family-owned and operated fiber mill located in the sunny Yakima Valley of Central Washington. 

Owners Bob and Danise Cathel are committed to milling alpaca and other fibers into luxurious, soft and useful end products. They are avid fiber artists and love working with all types of fiber, with alpaca being their favorite. They also enjoy caring for their 35 alpacas at their farm, Silbury Hill Alpacas. Day-to-day operations of the mill include the whole family: Bob and Danise, daughter Diane, son Anthony, daughter-in-law Sarah, and good friend Levi Burnes.

The Cathels are very excited to be partnering in the Mill with international alpaca judge, Amanda VandenBosch. Amanda's creativity and knowledge of fiber are an integral part in making the unique yarns produced at the mill. 

Spring Harvest Fiber Mill’s primary goal is producing quality fiber products: soft, bright yarns in several weights, roving, felt products and woven rugs and scarves. Education is also a priority of the Mill. We welcome inquiries about all things fiber and processing.


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