Friday, May 09, 2014

Playing With Fiber

Since my last post with raw wool for sale, I've been getting questions and emails about what to do with fleece if you don't have all the expensive fiber tools (combs, carders, pickers, etc.) 

Pictured are some washed Corriedale locks, lower right, inexpensive dog combs and finished combed fiber, top, ready to spin!
Good questions!  And one I understand because I didn't always have the equipment I have now.  You know, there are tons of great videos, websites, articles, downloads available out and about by people that know a lot more than I do - do a search for them when you can and you'll learn a lot about processing or prepping fiber for spinning without all the equipment.  My post here isn't really a "how-to" I'm just sharing a few photos sitting on my couch in my living room with a basket full of washed fibers and some really inexpensive tools that can get you started on your fiber prep journey!

First you need nice fiber (see my last post if you're looking for great Corriedale fleece!)  Next, you need to wash that fiber (unless you're planning to spin in the grease)  See my series of posts on Washing Wool, The Way I Do starting here.  So now, you should have some nice clean wool ideally still in the lock formation.  At that point, you could just tease open each end of the lock, fluff it up a bit and spin from the lock.  Or you could flick card (using a flicker or an inexpensive dog brush - the kind with rather stiff wire teeth).  Here's a short, simple video showing the process.

As I've mentioned many times, I really like combing wool for spinning.  Wool combs are expensive, even the small ones.  So why not start with a pair of dog combs from the pet store, farm store or even discount stores!  Not perfect but it are a few pictures of some that I picked up for .99 each in the clearance bin at the farm store:

Load one comb with a thin layer of fiber, not to thickly
In the picture above, I've combed the fiber from one comb to the other two times.  The little pile of fuzz both next to and on the comb is "waste" -short stuff, chaff, throw away.  Next to it is fiber ready to spin
Three little birds nests of combed "sliver"  A delight to spin!
I measured these particular dog combs and the tines are 3.5 and 4 inches wide.  Teeth are 1 inch high and the wooden handles are 3.5 inches long.  They're very comfortable to use.

And what if you don't have a spinning wheel yet?  Here's something I just discovered, thanks to my new fiber friend Jill ~ a support spindle!!!  See it nestled in the basket of fiber, below?

I can't tell you how fun this is for me!  I've never mastered the drop spindle and at this point, don't care to keep trying ;)  I've got three spinning wheels but I'm really enjoying learning the support spindle and have even made some "rustic" yarn on it already!  My point being, spindles (drop or support) are a good way to spin before you're ready to invest in a wheel.


Homesteading Wife said...

Your wool looks so pretty! I've only got part of our wool picked through and now I'll have to grab some combs for the wool! Thanks for sharing.

Cary at Serenity Farms said...

Did that help at all, Abby? It really is a good, inexpensive way to play with the fiber ;) Hope you're feeling better soon!

Kate said...

Hey Cary,
Thanks for posting this! I have been trying to figure out what to do after I clean my wool. I definitely can't afford the carders. I will try this out and let you know how we do.
Mary Kate is spinning some wonderful yarn and I am looking forward to having spin more of our own. Take care!

Cary at Serenity Farms said...

I'm so glad, Kate! Please do let me know how it goes ;)

sustainablemum said...

This is a great post Cary I have been given a fleece and have worked out how to wash it but was pondering what to do after that. Now that the weather has warmed up enough to make drying the fleece easier I will give it ago.

I have sent you an email following your comment which I hope gets through!

Homesteading Wife said...

Haven't had time to do anything more with all the wool. Hoping to sell some as I have way to much to do anything with -- at least for this year :-).

Kate said...

I washed a small portion of fleece over the weekend. I followed your washing instructions and I think it turned out pretty well. It should be dry enough this afternoon when I get home to play with it some more. I will try to post some pictures on my blog later this week.

Cary at Serenity Farms said...

Abby, I'll get in touch with you about your fleece.

Kate, I hope you will share, I'd love to see how it turns out. I have one more fleece to skirt then I'm done and best of all, we're SOLD OUT for 2014 ;D Happy Dance, happy dance!!!