Thursday, August 19, 2010
Buying fiber off the internet
It can be very confusing when you first start buying fiber and there are some less then ethical sellers, (or perhaps it is just a difference of opinion?), who sell some coarser fibers and say it is "next to the skin soft" . Well, if your a lizard, perhaps Romney wont bother your skin but if your an extra sensitive aspie....anything much coarser then Merino is going to feel itchy and scratchy .
The best way to tell how soft the fiber is , is by the grade or micron count . Something like Merino will be around 64 grade and 20 micron but there is some wiggle room there as I have seen Merino listed as 17micron (extra fine) and as large as 24 . Some of the variation can be caused by weather and food they eat to the health and age of the sheep . I have bought some fiber I assumed was labeled wrong because it was so much coarser then other wool I bought from another seller with the same sheep name . Ideally, the seller should be able to give a micron count for their fiber but that doesn't happen all the time so it is a good idea to buy small amounts until you know your seller .
Above are the two ways I have fiber shipped to me , some people prefer boxes and most prefer plastic envelops . I have had sellers say that they ship in boxes to prevent felting but I've had felted wool come to me in boxes and so far, never had fiber felt in envelops . I believe the fiber that came felted (two different sellers and very disappointing), was from one sending the fiber still damp and the other(or both)felting it while dying....just a newbie mistake .
VM, (vegetable matter) in the fiber . When I told them I was disappointed, they did say they would replace it if I wanted to mail it back and I may but don't really want to pay the money to ship it back and just end up getting more filthy fiber . I might just write it off as a lesson learned (and a seller marked off as my reorder list ).
Some sellers I have bought from will say that fiber is "ready to spin" and claim that any small amount of VM will come out while carding or spinning.... but it is full of VM and takes hours of picking to get it ready for any use...... others let you know that the price is reduced because it has VM . I don't mind picking out a few twigs but when it has been pulverized into a powder into the fiber....that isn't so easy .
soft and shinny alpaca locks from
Cashmerebunny on Etsy . The price was about average for alpaca but this gets 4 stars for clean look and smell , little VM and is the glossiest alpaca I have ever seen .
Below is the "discount seconds" but it was very inexpensive and still has a great variety of colors and is clean . Over all, a lovely purchase and the kind that keeps me going back to certain sellers .
So, my advice when you are making fiber purchases is to try and buy small amounts of each fiber your interested in to check for cleanliness and quality . I would recommend the same when buying roving and batts as I have been sold half felted items and others with more nubs then fiber . If I knew Latin I would say...."Buyer beware " in a far cooler way .
Happy fiber buying !