Monday, June 3, 2013

Got Fleece?

The topic for 10 on Tuesday was 10 things you like on top of your ice cream- I don't really eat ice cream since discovering frozen yogurt, and the only thing I like on it is Gummi bears (because they get all hard and cold and chewy)- so I'm not doing a Tuesday post this week.

What I have been doing over the weekend is combing wool.  Why? Why would anyone want to do that?  I'll answer that more questions- why bake your own bread? why knit socks when you can buy them in bulk packages at Costco?  So, you get why.

At Fingerlakes last year, I purchased a 2lb lambs fleece, Cotswold/Wensleydale which is a lustre longwool with a staple length (being the length of the lock unstretched) of 5-6".  I wanted to try out my Valkyrie Viking combs- and I have been reading and watching videos about combing fibre.  I highly recommend Robin Russo's dvd, devoted to combing.  I had washed the fleece pretty much when I got it home, and it was nice to talk to the shepherd who wanted to know what my plans were for it.

So I add some oil in the form of a combing milk, but Norman Kennedy uses baby oil.  You want the wool to look and feel like conditioned hair.  It's olive oil, lecithin, water and essential oil- but you don't want to douse it.  Have a spray bottle of plain water because there is going to be static.

The next step is to charge the comb, or lash on. One of the combs is attached to a pad, which is clamped to the table.  You catch the butt ends of the locks to the teeth of the comb.

I didn't leave the comb on the pad, but took it in my left hand, and using the empty comb perpendicular to the charged comb, I began just catching the tips and transferring the longer fibers to the working comb.  This was so enjoyable I contemplated becoming a dog groomer (I used to brush our Chow dog every day).
 You end up with all the long fibers lined up and anything left on the first comb goes in the waste pile.  Bearing in mind that the fiber is fluffed up- it looks like alot goes to waste.  This preparation is for combed top- which is smooth and drafts effortlessly.  The picture shows pulling off the fiber from the comb with a diz- a concave wooden object with different size holes. This fleece is gorgeous and soft- with silver to black colours in it.

And you end up with these piles of birdnests- ready for spinning.  I will say it is pretty hard on the hands, but being the binge-personality that I am, I should take more breaks.  Who knew it could be this fun?
I spun some today-and surveyed the kittens:
Howard didn't think combing was fun.......
....and Tino couldn't care less. Too busy mousing.

Fleece out.


Sel and Poivre said...

I have an imaginary world where I buy fleece in the spring and spend the summer at the cottage working it up into yarn that then keeps me knitting over the winter until I start it all over again the next year.

This was like a little vicarious peek into that world. Thanks!

Gale NoName said...

How was it to spin Lorraine? It looks beautiful.

Bridget said...

I would love to learn to spin, but so far have had no luck with the drop spindle. I think my hand-eye coordination isn't that good ...

I'm guessing that you are glad that the kittens are not more interested in your spinning activities - that could definitely be a problem!

Nicole said...

Such cuties!

I do enjoy spinning, but I'll leave the fiber prep to other people for now. It looks like it could be a fun process, but time consuming!

Chris said...

May and Tino seem to have similar approaches to life. ("Where's my mouse?!")

mrspao said...

Hmm you have kittens and they didn't want to roll bodily in those beautiful rolags? Are they quite well? :) :)