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.
Large 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.
Even 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.
Our 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.
We 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.
This 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!
Many 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.
Have you done any wool classification? What is your experience with whole fleeces or different wool types?