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One of first things you will face as a new spinner is where to buy a fleece! Unfortunately, raw fleece wool is generally not available to be purchased at your local corner store, and you might have to go further afield.
Places to Buy a Fleece
One good place to find a fleece that you can purchase (at least in Australia) is your local agricultural show. Local producers come to the agricultural show to 'showcase' their goods, and for small local sheep farmers that often means their fleece wool.
I have managed to pick up several high quality colored fleeces from the Royal Adelaide Show over the years. It is also a good source for Alpaca fleeces, commercially prepared sliver (not a spelling mistake - it is a spinning/fleece wool term) and other bits and pieces.
And if you do find a fleece that suits your style of spinning, make sure you also get the contact information for the producer so that you can contact them when you need more.
Is there a Farmer's Market in your area? It might be a bit of a long shot, but you never know your luck.
If you live in a rural area (or semi-rural like my home town) it is possible that you know some of the local farmers. The next time you see one of them, tell them about your hobby and ask if they know anyone you could buy a fleece from.
© -JvL- | Flickr Shearing Sheep
My Merino fleeces are supplied (more often than not at no cost) by one of my friends. Her father is a semi-retired farmer with a passion for breeding merinos that produce high quality super fine wool. The fleeces that are given to me are considered to be second grade, and not up to his incredibly high standards.
But they are perfect for me! Talk to people and you never know what will happen!
Specialty Craft Stores
Another way to find out somewhere to buy a fleece is to search for a craft shop that specialises in supplying spinning wheels. To do this you can do a search in your yellow pages in the craft categories (online if possible), or you can go to websites of one or more of the main manufacturers and look up their list of distributors in your area.
Spinners and Weavers Guilds
Most large population areas will have a Spinners and Weavers Guild. Believe it or not, spinning and weaving is very popular! Most of these Guilds have a shop or retail outlet for their members and for the general public.
The next time you are passing the Guild shop, call in and have a look. While you are there you might be able to pick up some raw fleece wool and you will also be able to have a look at the some of the projects completed by the members.
If you have exhausted all other options of sourcing your wool, and still don't know where to buy a fleece, you might want to consider raising your own sheep! To do this you would need to own a large enough property and be prepared to care for the animals yourself, but this is an option that many of the spinners I know seriously consider. Especially with colored sheep.
If you join a spinners and weavers group you might have the opportunity to purchase fleece wool from other members. In my experience, the people in these groups are very willing to share their knowledge, and if they have found somewhere to buy a fleece, they will be glad to share it with you.
Of course, you can check the advertisements in your local paper, or place one yourself!
Alternatively you can look into buying sliver instead of raw fleece wool. One way of finding sliver is to check out any commercial mills in your area.
At least two commercial mills in Australia produce sliver in a variety of colors via a mail order catalogue. All you have to do is select the color, pay by credit card and the wool is delivered to your door.