What can you do about those pesky specks of dirt and VM that are embedded in the fiber? Should you put it through the picker? Hand pick it? or give up in disgust!
…is always an option, and it will clean the fleece. You need a set of combs for that and a quick lesson on combing. I really like Susan McFarland’s combing video — it will work for all hand combs — If you have the large English combs, you need a different method. I keep my equipment simple these days — one set of combs that fits me well and doesn’t make my arms/wrists/elbows hurt — Can you tell that I’m getting OLD???
Not everyone has combs, or maybe you have a LOT of fleece and don’t want to prep it all by combing. I found a cool video one day called “No Fleece Left Behind” — it gives new life to fleece you had lost hope on! This video is SO well done and I have tried it and it really, really works — I wish I had known this a few years ago when I had a particularly tricky Tunis fleece to clean.
Recently I divested myself of all the extra fiber prep equipment. Sold the Picker, sold the Electric Drum Carder (the thing scared the beejeebers out of me!) and was left with 1 set of combs and 2 sets of carders. I decided that all I really needed to do was learn to use my carders more efficiently. I found a great video sponsored by Schacht and applied her suggestions right away. I carded up 8 ounces in record time! I couldn’t believe it.
I also bought a copy of the DVD “How to Card Wool, Four Spinners, Four Techniques”. I really enjoyed watching it . I am really encouraged about using my hand carders to prep my wool. Norm Kennedy advocates really SCOURING your fleece an then uses a few drops of Baby Oil before carding. I tried that too, and it really makes a difference — the fibers card up much more easily.
Now I am ready to try out 2 of the methods mentioned above. My Texel from Washing Day is ready for processing. I need to decide which I will use — Combing or “No Fleece Left Behind”. There are three factors to consider: Time, Waste, Spinability.
I picked out a MESSY sample to spin, figuring that it won’t get any worse than this. First I combed a sample. The fibers were longer and it combed up nicely. Just a few bits left behind in the dizzed nest of now very attractive fiber. Then I picked out some fiber that had a LOT of embedded VM in it and used the method from “No Fleece Left Behind” Amazing — ALL of the VM came out and was either in my lap or on the carders. I laid all the fibers out so that all the cut ends matched.
I spun the sample worsted. The nest spun out extremely well — more spinability on this method. The card prepped locks were cleaner and very spinable (I spin from the cut side to the tip). If I were pressed for time I would use the carders — I prepped the fiber more quickly with this method. If I didn’t want to have to think much while spinning, I would choose the combing method!
Please enjoy the photo essay below — complete with comments.
Many know me as Dakota Skipper -- that's my Cowboy alias. I LIKE to write and I like to share. Please enjoy reading about my frolicking fiber adventures!