Testing Greasy Wool
[Sorry ... Here's another page that needs a bunch more work ... but it's coming ...]
Greasy Wool -- that is, the wool as it is shorn from the sheep -- must be tested so that wool buyers know its properties.
There are actually only a few facilities in the USA that have the equipment to properly sample the baled greasy so that the test lab is working with fiber that truly represents the content of the bale. Roswell Wool is where our wool is sampled. Advisor Bob Padula helped develop the sampling techniques.
In the USA, for 56 years, greasy wool testing was done by Yocom-McColl Labs, but proprietor Angus retired in 2019 at age 86 or so. At present, testing of American wool is handled by SGS Wool Testing Services of New Zealand. [Given WeatherWool's very strict 100% American material and labor policy, I'm not happy about this situation, even though NZ is AOK in my book. However, this is a testing service, not raw material or processing that goes into our products. And in 2020 and 2021, if not for our friends in NZ, the industry would have been unable to test properly. So THANKS to SGS!]
But that situation should change by the time we buy more greasy in Spring of 2022. By April of 2022, a new American testing facility is expected to open at Texas A&M University. That new testing lab took a nice big jump toward reality when the testing equipment began its journey (by ship!) from Melbourne, Australia, to the Texas AgriLife Wool & Mohair Lab at Texas A&M University in San Angelo, Texas. Very important and very welcome progress!!!
The lab reports provide a lot of information. Most important to us:
- Fiber Thickness
- Variability of diameter
- Expected yield after scouring (cleaning)
- Amount of vegetable matter (grass, twigs ...) in the fleece
- Length of the fibers
- Strength of the fibers
- Presence of paint (Some ranchers paint numbers on their sheep.)
- Presence of polypropylene in the fiber
- Age of the sheep
Roswell Wool is America's largest warehouse and auction house for fine wool, and Advisor Mike Corn is one of the partners at Roswell. With the assistance of Mike and (mostly) Bob, we evaluate the lab reports, determine which lots of wool are best for our purposes, and bit on them at Roswell's auction.
27 June 2021 --- Ralph