Charlene Schmid

Charlene Schmid

Fiber Consultant

Master Sorter; Certified by SUNY/Cobleskill

Increase your potential fiber production and profit!

What does it mean to be a certified sorter, grader, classer?

The purpose of obtaining certification in sorting, grading, and classing fiber is to ensure standardization across the United States in preparing uniform and predictable fleece in an accurate, efficient, and repeatable manner. Obtaining certification through SUNY/Cobleskill includes:

  • several in-person courses

  • examinations

  • a considerable apprenticeship

  • final exams

What does it mean to sort, grade, and class fiber?



The process of sorting fiber is working through blankets of like colors and taking each apart and placing like fibers together. This is most often done at the time of shearing where the owner brings all alpacas of the same color to the shearer.

Once the blanket is removed, it is weighed and brought to the sorting table. From the table, the sorter collects fibers that are like in diameter (micron) and length to be placed in one of 10 collection bags behind the table. The 10 collection bag/boxes hold short fibers containing microns that fall into grades 1-5 and long fibers for grades 1-5.

When completed, each bag will have only like fibers from all animals in the herd of that color.



Grading fleece is an evaluation of fiber characteristics. Like fiber is labeled as to the diameter of each hair and placed in a grade based on a range of three microns. Grade 1 is the finest and Grades 5/6 are the stronger or greater diameter. No specific grade is “better” than another, as each has a purpose. An essential part of this evaluation includes the ratio of primary and secondary fibers as these can differ in diameter. Grading is part of the sorting process, or it may be used to evaluate a single fleece.

Fiber is also graded by length as blending long and short fibers results in a product that pills and appears “hairy”.

Benefits of sorting fiber by like color and grade include:

• more usable fiber per animal

• superior products which in turn commands higher prices and repeat customers

• reduce loss during production

A complete inventory for the entire harvest provides summary of herd productivity

and helps manage fleece when processing.

Sorting, Grading, Classing services include sorting/grading

  • at time of shearing

  • for commercial collection

  • for Natural Fiber Producers

Daily rate, as an independent contractor, is $400 plus travel expenses.

Please submit this form to request service.

Name *
Date Requested Service
Date Requested Service

Additional service options available:

• completed individual animal sort record or fleece evaluation card to promote cottage sales

• post-sorting consultation of fiber use, herd management, and/or breeding for fiber improvements