Spinning

Preparation of Raw Fleece Part II - Picking, Carding and Spinning

This article builds on the article titled "Preparation of Raw Fleece Part I "  In part one we covered the scouring of a raw targhee fleece.  Now you have a clean fleece but it sure does not look like yarn or anything that you could make into yarn.  It looks cleaner but it still has vegetation in it and it is kinda clumpy and stuff.  Fear not, we will tackle the fleece and turn it into roving that will be ready to spin :)

In phase one, we were working with targhee fleece. For phase two, we are switching to llama fleece. The only reason we are switching to llama fleece is that I have some that I need to prepare and spin. I received this from a local llama sanctuary, and once it is spun I will give half of it back to them to sell so they can keep the sanctuary going.  The process is the same it is only the feel of the spinning that is different.

So let's get started with phase II of processing a raw fleece.

What you will need before you start -

  • A scoured fleece - hopefully you have one after reading the "Processing Phase I" article.
  • Carders - either hand or drum depending on your preference and your pocket book.  We will be discussing hand carders
  • Drop spindle or spinning wheel - also depends on preference and pocket book
  • Patience - lots of it!

Step 1:  Picking

As you can see from the photo below the fleece is pretty clean now after having been processed in phase I.  Although the fleece is pretty clean you will notice that there is still a little vegetation in the fleece.  There are several means of removing more of the vegetation. One way would be to use a Picker.  Pickers come in a variety of models but they all basically do the same thing - they separate the fleece locks and loosen more of the vegetation in doing so.  Pickers fluff up the fleece and make it easier to do step two - card the fleece. 

I do not use a picker at this time.  I just haven't gotten it in the budget yet but probably will pretty soon.  It is not a necessity as picking can be performed by hand.  I just put out a big towel on the floor and pick through it while I watch TV or listen to the radio.  If it is a nice day you may choose to do this outside because you will have a lot of fuzzies getting loose as you card.  Simply separate chucks of fleece with your fingers and try to arrange the locks in the same direction.  This is also a good time to separate by length.  Some cuts will not be of a length that is good for spinning unless you want a fuzzy yarn.

Step 2:  Carding

Now take some of your separated locks and place them on your hand carders.  This is known as loading the card.  I use Schact 72 hand carders.  They have 72 pins per square inch.  The pins per square inch are important to know because the fiber you are processing dictates how many pins per square inch you will need.  Cotton requires more pins per square inch than wool. If you are unsure which carders you need for your fiber ask the rep you are buying your carders from for a recommendation.  If you are using a drum carder follow the directions of your drum carder as they are all a little different.  Do not overload the carders as this can end up matting you fleece. 

Now place one card on your leg and take the other card and lightly take it over the card laying on your leg.  Hold the carders at a slight angle as you pass them over.  If you hear the pins scraping than you are using too heavy a hand.  Lightly passing over is the key to keeping your carders in good shape and processing your fiber nicely.  Make several passes over the locks until they look smooth. 

 

Half of the locks will now be on the other card already so transfer the rest of the locks off of the card on your leg.

Now swap the cards so the newly loaded carder is on your leg.  Follow the same steps you just took for the first pass with the second carder.  You may have to repeat this process several times to get the locks smooth and clean. 

Finally scrape the last of one of the cards onto the other card so all the locks are together again and begin to roll the locks using the cards to help form the rolls. 

I usually collect enough rolls until I feel it is worth spinning them.

Now your fiber is ready to spin!

 

 

 

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