There are two basic styles of judging; Commercial and Artisan. The first style is more for wool shows where the fleeces will be purchased by commercial buyers (like Wool Growers) or a manufacturer. This method I find is quite harsh as there is more focus on fine, white and large fleeces. Rambouillet wool does great here but a Black Welsh fleece has none of those qualities. This way of judging is necessary in a commercial setting and does a good job at weeding out the fleeces that don't fit into a buyers schema. An Artisan judging is usually the style used at fibre festivals like Olds Fibre Week, the Manitoba Fibre Festival and Blue Hills Fibre Festival for example. There is no discrimination on handle, colour or size. Wool workers quite like coloured fleeces and sometimes a small fleece is just what you are looking for.
Soundness. This is the most important matter on the entire card. This refers to the strength of the fleece. You will often see me pulling out a few locks from different areas of a fleece and putting them up to my ear and pulling them apart, I am listening for tenderness.
Clean Yield: You are looking at a dirty fleece, if a fleece has a high clean yield, it means after washing you will still be left with the majority of the fleece. A low clean yield means you have a very dirty fleece where much of the wool will have to be wasted or you will have to put a lot more work into the process.
Presentation: We combined a few criteria from the Olds judging card to make this section. This is an informative criteria for both producers and artisans. This category lets you know as a buyer what condition the entire fleece is in. Pay close attention to deductions like skin flakes, second cuts, manure and stains as these issues cannot be washed out.
Lustre & Handle: If wool has lustre, it means it has shine. Long wools have amazing lustre whereas fine wools not so much and down wools – not at all. A judge must be fair to the specific breed characteristics. Handle is all about how the wool feels. Is it silky & soft or dry and lack life?
Crimp Style: Fine wools have a very dense crimp, that’s what gives it, its elasticity. Long wools have a wide wavelength present and medium and down breeds sometimes don’t have a clearly defined crimp. Areas around the upper body will have a finer crimp style then the britch.