6 Steps to fleece preparation
1. Step one……. Do not panic! Yes this is a competition but it should also be enjoyable. Remember you are doing this for the fun of it. It may seem a ‘black art’ to start with but the more time you spend with your fleeces the more you will understand them and say ‘Oh, is that it? That’s easy!’
2. Lay out blanket on a large table, preferably made of mesh so that any dirt, dust and short cuts can fall through. Gently ‘bounce’ the fleece to help with this.
3. Remove as much vegetable matter as possible, twigs, hay, crotons, small children etc. Be careful not to disturb the fleece character or stretch it.
4. Look at the edges of the fleece, you are looking for the ‘skirting line’ where the soft, crimpy fleece starts to get courser or where there starts to be guard hair. If it feels soft-leave it in, if it does not – take it out….. but not too much, points are awarded for weight ! It is a balance you will learn in time.
5. Turn the edges of the fleece over to look under for any course bits that may have got missed and any second cuts.
6. Fold edges of fleece to the centre and roll so that the ‘cut-side’ is outwards for a Huacaya or cut-side inside for a Suri and carefully place in a clear plastic bag along with entry form showing date of shearing.
Good luck, but more importantly…….enjoy yourself.
More about fleece preparation
The aims of alpaga fleece judging are to provide a competition which recognises the characteristics of alpaga fibre desired by manufacturers, processors and producers.
All fleeces entered should be the ‘skirted’ portion which should be skirted of all short, stained and course fibre. All vegetable matter should also be removed. Poorly prepared fleeces will be penalised in the judging. Any fleece with Parasitic or Insect infestation will be disqualified.
Min.length of fibre : 50mm 75mm
Max.length of fibre : 150mm 450mm
Classes : Group1, Junior……………6 – 12 months
Group2, Intermediate……12 – 24 months
Group3, Adult …………..24 – 48 months
Group4 , Senior………… 48 – 72 months
Group5, Mature……….Above 72 months
The judges scoring (maximum points for each item) :
Fineness (Micron): 15 points, This reflects the degrees of fineness of the fibre displayed against the estimated/tested micron (refer to chart).Points are awarded for fineness taking into account the age of the animal.
Handle (softness): 5 points, Reflects the degree of softness taking into account age of the animal and the micron of the fleece. Handle is influenced by the evenness of micron in the staple through the fleece.
Uniformity of Micron: 10 points, Reflects the evenness of fineness/softness throughout entire fleece. Points are deducted for levels of variation.
Uniformity of Length: 10 points, Reflects the amount of equal length fibres throughout entire fleece. Points deducted for short fibres and 2nd cuts (the short bits left after a second pass by shearer. These should be removed when skirting)
Uniformity of Colour: 5 points, the evenness and regularity of colour throughout entire fleece.
Character (definition of crimp): 10 points, Reflects the regularity/evenness of the crimp throughout the staple and entire fleece. The character is an indicator of how well the fibres are aligned in the staple (definition of character).
Staple Type (Density): 5 points, Reflects the formation of the staple (lock). Density is affected by the alignment of the fibres in the skin. Squeeze a handful of fibre. If your hand closes up there is little density. If you feel resistance then the staple is dense.
Brightness (Huacaya), Lustre (Suri): 10 points, Relates to the light refraction of alpaga fibre. Brightness/lustre is desirable by the processor for finished garments in huacaya and suri fibre.
Lack of Guard hair: 10 points, the fleece should be free of the broad, continuous medulated guard hair fibres. Guard hairs are stiff and hollow hairs that reflect light differently to solid fibres.
Lack of impurities: 5 points, excessive vegetable matter, damage to tips, cotting (matting) or staining will lose points.
Clean Fleece Weight: 15 points, points are awarded for skirted fleece weight. Each age class would be expected to produce a given weight (refer chart), so that over skirting/cleaning will lose weight and therefore points.