Until this week I had no idea what cotting was. Well, I'd seen it, but I didn't know that was what it was called.
The dictionary says the definition of cotting is this: Said of wool which has become matted or felted while on the sheep, due usually to continuous wetting.
Poor sheep. It happens to alpacas too and it makes the fiber almost entirely unusable.
I spent Monday at my second most favorite farm (mine being first of course!). It was shearing day at Wind Walker Ranch in Middleville, Michigan and we drove up there to offer our help. Andrea, the Wonder Why Gal, was there sorting the fiber as it came off the animals.
It turns out that cotting is the term for matted fleece. Basically the fiber felted to itself right on the animal near the skin. For us fiber artists that spells bad news. Fiber that has cotting is not very user friendly. In fact, most of the time it's not usable at all.
How to prevent cotting? I'm not sure there are any fool-proof methods to prevent it, but since it's caused by a lot of moisture at the skin, the first step would be to prevent that moisture build-up. You can do that by shearing before it gets too hot or keeping the animals cool with fans if shearing is not yet possible.
Cotting is now my new vocabulary word and like the kids, I've looked up the definition and used it in a sentence. Do I get an A? :o)
Hopefully you've learned something today and as a parting gift I will leave you with a picture from my favorite yarn I spun this week.