Are you able to accurately identify guard hair in a raw fleece?  Why is identification important?

Guard hair is a tremendous negative for hand-spun yarn.  Learn to identify it so it can be removed.

Guard hair is a tremendous negative for hand-spun yarn. Learn to identify it so it can be removed.

If you are a fiber grower or producer, being able to identify guard hair is important to the future of your breeding program and even more important to your success as a seller of raw fleece.  If you attempt to sell raw fleeces with a high percentage of guard hair embedded it will not take long for your customers to disappear.

As a hand-spinner, it is critical you learn to identify guard hair.  The inability to recognize it can severely affect the quality of your spun yarn.  You may be an excellent spinner but if you continually produce  “hairy” yarns with a high “prickle factor” your reputation as an experienced hand-spinner can be jeopardized very quickly.


Not always, but usually guard hair color closely matches the prime fleece color making it more of a challenge in the identification process for a beginning spinner or fiber processor.  However, identification is less of a challenge when the guard hair color is different than the color of the prime blanket fleece.


Guard hair and extending primary fibers can easily be seen when they differ in color from the prime fleece. The dark primaries shown in this fleece are a negative fleece attribute for sure! (Click on photo to enlarge)


Viewed from the “cut side” of the fleece or the portion that grows next to the skin, this guard hair is easily identified.  It can be time consuming but you will be much happier with your spinning results when guard hair is accurately identified and removed before you wash the fleece.  Happy spinning!


Although extending primary fibers can be very close in micron to the main body of fleece, the color contamination is a critical factor when producing end products. A white fleece should be a white fleece… not a white fleece with stray, dark fibers. (Click on photo to enlarge)