C1. F2S and F2. No, this is not a secret code or technical specifications. It is the Norwegian wool classification system! Last weekend I attended a wool classification course, arranged by Midt-Troms museum.

wool-classificationLarge paper sacks filled with wool were dragged into the room by enthusiastic farmers and other fiber enthusiasts, and the smell of sheep, barn and wool filled the air. Brown, white, yellowish and grey wool was dragged out of sacks and laid upon the tables.

ullsortering Ingvild EspelienEven though I used to card and handspin a lot, I had never learned to classify wool and I looked forward to this very much. Ingvild Espelien from Selbu minimill held a short introductory lecture and then we started to work.

crossbred-fleeceOur primary task was to sort the wool into two heaps, class 1 and the rest,the latter meaning, dirty, urine-burnt and felted wool, or wool from the thighs, the tummy and the tail of the animal. Second rate wool gets paid very little, and the photo is an example of this. The farmer had stored his wool for years in paper bags in the barn, and the once first class fleece now was definitively second class and beyond redemption.

hvit-spaelsauWe were very lucky to have wool from different sheep breeds to work with. In Norway we have primarly to main types of sheep breed, crossbred sbreeds and primitive breeds. In a staple of crossbred wool (C), all fibers have the same length and are of the same fiber type.

crossbred ullThis is wool from three different Norwegian crossbred breeds. All hairs have the same lengths and are gathered in so-called staples. These are examples of first rate crossbred wool, C1. If the wool is pigmented, it has the suffix s, so the brown wool would be C1S – complicated!

wool classification


krusingWithin the same fleece there are many different wool types: short, long, very curly, wavy, fine, coarse, with or without lustre.

villsau-ullMany farmers brought with them wool from old Norwegian sheep, which is a primitive breed with lovely colors. The wool consists of the outer coat hair (30 %) and the inner fleece (70 %). The outer coat is long and can have another color than the inner fleece. The inner fleece consists of wool and other hair, like animal hair and dead hair. These are hollow, and break off easily. But this wool will make beautiful yarns, check this posts for weaving and knitting with yarns from this sheep breed.

wool-clasificationI tried to separate  the different fiber types of the inner fleece, but did not manage well. This handful of wool looks like a monster of the type you wouldn’t want to find under your bed!

ull-villsauThis lock is beautiful whole year wool from old Norwegian short tail landrace, also called gamalnorsk spæl. This breed has 30 % inner fleece and 70 % outer coat.

gammel-norsk-spaelsauThe animal must have had   incredibly long fleece! And it was easily separated into the two wool types without any dead hair or animal hair, I just needed to drag.



spaelsaucapeWhole year wool will often have very felted parts. This parts of the fleece was so felted that farmer Andrea could wear it like a cape, it’s elegant, isn’t it?


Have you done any wool classification? What is your experience with whole fleeces or different wool types?

wool classification