fibre preparation · process · spindle spinning · spinning · yarn

mystery fibre.

In our guild, we have a program called “Mystery Fibre” that many people sign up for and I always forget to do so. At the last guild meeting for the season, I was able to get a left-over package. It was American Tunis! In raw, unwashed fleece, I decided to load up my garment bag immediately and dive right in (literally). I washed the locks in Sunlight dish detergent with as-hot-as-I-could-get-it tap water, letting it soak until the water started to loose its heat. Afterwards, I lifted it out and placed the locks on a towel to dry outside. To be completely honest, I completely forgot to rinse because I was so distracted by the kids. I was washing while I was having my morning coffee, making pancakes and serving them, and having conversations about the differences between a ghost and a monster. Apparently, the difference between a ghost and a monster is that the ghost is purple but they are both scary. BUT neither live in our house, apparently. I was informed that they don’t like the smell of sheep so they don’t like our house. Good to know.

Have I mentioned how much I love toddlers?

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The Tunis dried beautifully out on our porch due to the hot days we’ve had recently. It has been glorious to have the sun back again. I left the dried locks in a pile in my husband’s office (much to his chagrin dismay). That evening, I started to load my combs and comb the wool out into nests. This wool basically combs itself – it is so easy to work with. I only washed it once and while there was a lot of dust and vegetable matter (VM) that fell out, it was lovely and clean to work with afterwards. Pulling the fibre off the combs was easy-peasy. Sometimes combing is hard on my wrist but this wool was not hard at all to pull off the combs.

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My combs are Robert Hawkins from Ontario, Canada. They were a gift and I’ve enjoyed learning to use them.

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Pulling the nests of combed fibre off the combs above. Below, the waste was minimal when I compare to other projects I’ve combed.

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Once I had about half-a-dozen nests, I started to spin to assess whether I should rinse or wash the wool again (I was getting worried about it). It has spun like butt-ah. Just beautiful. I even played with my drafting technique on the spindle be letting quite a bit of twist into the fibre supply and almost long-drawing. Lovely to work with!

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I’m going to comb the rest this week and continue to work through this little sample. I really enjoy process fleece and this was the perfect little project between larger spins that are in progress at present but stalled!

Do you enjoy processing fleece? What do you enjoy about it?

Until next time,

~r.

5 thoughts on “mystery fibre.

  1. I don’t mind the processing of the fleece, but it is the amount of space it takes while drying. Do you ever use Unicorn Fibre Wash? I have had the absolute best results using it.

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  2. I eagerly await new additions! I have a left wrist issue also. I found if I use a brace for a while, it keeps my wrist from holding a cockeyed angle ( sorry for phrase) and making it sore. It all started when I was tatting a lot. Think that might help?

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  3. I’ve only processed two raw fleece so far but have found that I have developed a different attachment to them as opposed to already processed fiber. That surprised me! I’m looking forward to doing more.

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  4. I’ve been processing 2 Jacob fleeces for year and a half now. One of them is completely washed and I’m in the process of combing it which I love, love, love! I don’t know why. When it’s all combed out, still on the comb, and the light is shining through it…it’s mesmerizing. And so soft and crimpy! It does hurt my wrists after a while so I comb a lot and then rest. Carding is a lot harder on me than combing. Comb-card-spin, comb-card-spin, and so on. It must be, literally, what our ancestors did. You really get to know your wool when you process a fleece. I think it’s a good idea for a spinner to know how to comb and card because not all preps are spin-ready. Prepping your fiber is key to be able to spin like the dickens.

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  5. I have only processed one complete fleece and few bits here and there. The whole process is so wonderful; the feel, the smell, seeing the fleece transform from a dirty bit of fuzz or long locks to gorgeous fleece that I love to stick my nose in!!! Also the gratification that I have processed the fleece that I spin.

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