We’re all looking for a great source of wool for our handspinning passion. Whether we are looking for roving to raw fleeces, where are the best places to find high quality wool?
Direct from the sheep farmer
The most obvious place to get wool is from the sheep farmer. While not all sheep farmers have wool that you’ll want to spin, the ones that do are looking for a good customer who appreciates their fleeces.
Just start looking up “raw wool fleeces for sale” and see what comes up. Go with a specific breed if you can, it will make your search produce results sooner.
You could also put a wanted post on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace and see what comes up for you.
A word to the wise: the really great fleeces sell quickly, especially if you are looking for natural colored fleeces or something from a more rare breed.
Shop early to get the fleece you are interested in reserved before shearing, so you’ll be sure to get the perfect fleece for you and your next project.
Most farmers are going to shear in the spring, so be looking around the first few months of the year and getting on some email lists.
Another way to find local wool enthusiasts is to look up the other wool craft classes being given locally, like spinning, knitting or crochet, dyeing and felting and see if anything comes up.
I found a great local alpaca farm this way!
8 Tips On Buying Wool From A Small Farmer gives you a bit of insight on locally sourcing your next spinning project fiber!
Buy from other wool enthusiasts
Once folks get into wool crafts, especially if they get fiber animals, they tend to end up with way more fiber than they can use.
Fiber animals live in groups, so having just one sheep is not good for the sheep. This means that you don’t get just the one fleece you want, you get 4 or 5 because of the flock of sheep friends.
Also, fiber lovers are an experimental group, meaning we look at a sheep and say “I wonder what that fleece would do crossed with…..” and in 5 months we get a lamb or two of that cross and see the results.
Maybe I love the new cross or maybe it’s a nice wool but not what I want or need, good news for you a fellow wool enthusiast who is looking for another project.
The first few fleeces you raise yourself are a huge deal, then after that your flock of 3 turns to 7 turns to 12 or 14, you’ve got a lot more sheep than you started with just a few years ago.
And now there are a ton of fleeces that at least a few of which need to be sold!
Another common happening is to get in a bag of roving and have it not work for the project or it was purchased to see how I like it and I don’t! What then?
Well an easy answer is to sell it to someone who does like that wool.
Sharing wool purchases to see what you like before you buy is a big part of a wool guild, this is a group of folks who get together to chat, spin and experiment with new to them wools or techniques.
This type of a group is a wonderful way to see what other wool lovers have purchased and try it out before you buy some for your own project.
This is a super idea for more than just wool, it works for looms, needles and hooks, etc., as well.
Etsy has a wonderful selection of crafters that are selling wool online.
I have found a few small farmers putting their homegrown wool up for sale, these are my favorite folks to buy from!
I don’t do much online shopping, so I had to click around a bit to find small farmers, but it’s worth the effort.
You’ll find better than normal descriptions, interesting breed crosses or personal stories that make an individual wool enthusiasts shop stand out from other businesses selling wool online.
Some folks are in the business of selling wool, meaning they get large lots and divide it up into smaller, more customer friendly amounts of roving for the handspinning crowd.
While most of these folks are not selling wool from their own sheep, they do have an extensive selection and quite often a huge range of colors and breeds for you to choose from.
6 Wools That Are Hard To Spin gives you tips on things to look out for when buying wool.
Wool based craft shops
If you are really fortunate, you’ll find a few wool based craft shops within driving distance of your area.
What a wonderful resource to have, where you can go and pick things out in person. There’s really no substitute!
Online wool shop
If you do not live near a wool based craft shop that you have heard of, look them up and see what their online store is all about. You may be pleasantly surprised at the selection.
For the few shops that I looked up, I loved the extensive inventory and the options, both in fiber type and color selection.
Fiber festivals are a fun gathering of vendors that are selling all things wool. You’ll see anything from wheels to finished goods, like hats and shawls, and, of course, wool.
Sometimes you can get whole or partial washed fleeces other times roving or locks, dyed or undyed, all right there for you to see and touch in person.
To me the in person aspect is so valuable, if for no other reason than color.
Screens show the same color differently and what the roving or wool looks like in person can be different that what it looks like in the picture, based on the lighting.
I find a lot of colors do not truly show themselves well in the catalog pictures, but you get them home and wow, it’s lovely and almost a whole new level of coloration.
Sheep and wool festivals
Sheep and wool festivals are a bit different from fiber festivals, mainly, as you may have guessed, because of the animals being included in this one!
I am a huge fan of sheep and wool festivals! It is so inspirational to see all of the creativity and skill, all in one place.
To me, you get the best of both worlds, the tons of wool vendors and the wonderful fiber animals that are shown and quite often sold.
The other plus of a sheep and wool festival is you get to talk directly to the owners of the animal that produced the fleece, who will know all about great uses for their wool.
Tell them what you are looking for and let them help you out.
About 30 minutes from here is the Great Lakes Sheep And Wool Show And Sale held each Memorial Day weekend in Wooster, Ohio. It’s well worth the trip, I make sure to get there every year!
Specific sheep breed associations promote their wool
Most breed associations, sheep and other fiber animals, as well, will have some section on the website to promote their breed’s wool. Usually it is in the breeders list, but may also be in the classified section.
If you can’t find anything on the site, you can always email the association or one of the breeders on the list and see if they can help you locate some fleeces.
New Mexico State University has a nice chart on microns of each breed.
All these places will have alpaca, mohair and angora, too
Don’t let your search for wool end with sheep wool! You can find all of the other types of wool you are looking for at most, if not all of these spots, too!
From what I have seen, most folks that sell yarn, especially a shop, have more than one type of wool available, even if it is a blend of their primary wool animal with some sheep’s wool to make the roving more user friendly.