ALPACA FLEECE SUPPLIERS
Looking to sell your alpaca fleece? At Toft we are now purchasing alpaca fleece from breeders across the UK. If you are interested in selling us your fleece please CONTACT US or call 01788 810626 for a copy of our Fleece Purchase Agreement.
Toft pays in accordance to grade of fleece quality on all coloured Huacaya and Suri fleeces. Toft does not grade with 'micron' as the ruling factor. Sometimes fleeces that are exceptionally fine will hit a lower grade due to high percentages of guard hair. Similarly if a very fine fleece lacks a softness of condition it may be moved down, and in the same way a less fine fleece with exceptional lustre or handle may be moved up.
Fleeces should be delivered to Toft unless quantity exceeds 70 fleeces, in which case arrangements will be made for collection. Of course if you comminucate with your fellow local breeders we can do one collection to a region from a couple of nearby farms.
All fleeces will be hand sorted at Toft into four grade categories. Fleeces will be broken down into these grades which will generally result in the majority of a fleece going into one category and a minority classifying into the grades below. We now pay a base rate for all fibre that fails to meet these four grades.
Payment will be made for all fleece which qualifies in the four grades. Any fleece not qualifying for payment will be deemed unusable and destroyed.
In order to get the most out of the fleece of every animal it is important to take a little care when shearing. Ideally fleeces will have been skirted when shearing by the breeder into blankets and 'necks and legs'. We do not presume that this means into '1sts and 2nds'. Sometimes quality first fleece necks (dependent on the staple length) will make a grade. Should you require any further information on this then please get in touch.
Fleeces generally should not have been stored for longer than two years as this can greatly affect the handle of the fibre. We ask that fleeces are stored in dry conditions - ensuring that the fleeces themselves are dry when bagged.
Toft will return to the vendor a series of grading sheets. If fleeces are presented in individual sacks with animal ID names or numbers on them these will be transferred to the sheet and the breeder will get feedback on each individual fleece and how it distributed across the grades. If animal ID is not given and fleeces are combined into larger sacks then overall grade weights will be returned to the breeder. Solid colour is noted for the breeder's information more than ours. As we blend natural colours together to create the colours in our range we can use both dark fleeces with white fibres, and white with dark hairs and multi coloured fleeces.
Foliage contamination is a big problem for us as a processor, and it is a sad reality that it is so often the finest fleeces that carry the most contamination. If Toft receives a fleece that contains heavily soiled or contaminated parts that we feel may threaten the condition of the entire batch then a weight will appear in 'unusable' with a tick in foliage contamination. Infestation is a very rare occurrence which should be evident at shearing. Sometimes infestation can also arise when fleeces are stored badly - if we discover evidence of this then explanation will be given in the appropriate box.
Unusable is when the fleeces are deemed not of a sufficient standard for processing. Mainly this occurs when the fleeces do not make the standard to enter the payment grades detailed above. If so the base rate will now be paid for this fleece, but it will not be used by Toft to be spun into yarn. Very often the amount and strength of the guard hair present in the staples throughout a fleece will govern the eventual grade. Guard hair is the main cause of the 'prickle factor' and excessive guard hair is not acceptable in any of our four grades. If there is a question mark over the general condition of all or a large quantity of the fleeces received from a particular breeder and a high number are deemed to be rotten or tender, the breeder will be informed immediately.
All fleeces will be checked for tenderness and brittleness to ensure the strength and quality of the yarn spun as one tender fleece can destroy the evenness of a whole batch. Very occasionally fleece breaks can also occur half way down the staple for numerous reasons, and if so this will be noted in the appropriate box.
Generally any fleece being deemed 'unusable', whether that be one handful of an animal's fleece, or an entire blanket, will be for one of the reasons detailed above. Further reasons could be that the staple length is too short to process (less than two inches). If this is the case it will be noted in the appropriate box.
Fleece will be graded within six weeks of it arriving at Toft, and payment will be made once the fleece has been graded and the amounts totalled. Fleece cannot be reclaimed after it has been graded.