Up until this point, I have only purchased prepared fiber that was ready to spin – cleaned, combed or carded, and usually dyed. But when Sasha Torres dangled a Fleece Club membership under my nose, I decided it was time to stretch my spinning muscles a little and try a new skill. This club includes 3 shipments of cleaned fleece. Not a whole fleece, mind you – just enough to practice with. The idea is that you don’t have to know how to choose a good fleece or clean it, but you can take all the steps after that.
I’ve received two fleece shipments so far and just haven’t shared them with you yet. This is the first one – meet Olivia! She’s a Romney cross – specifically, 75% Romney, 12.5% Border Leicester, and 12.5% Corriedale. The fleece is a very pretty pale gray and the staple length (the length of an individual fiber) is 4-5”. Because of the staple length, COMBING is a better option than CARDING this fiber.
So I got out my new 5-pitch English combs and used a C-clamp to anchor them to my work table. (Side note – thank goodness we got a new dining table last year – now I can be super junky with the old one.)
First you “lash on” the comb by putting some fleece on it. I filled the comb up about 1/3 of the way. Yes, those tines are wicked sharp. I poked myself a few times and drew blood once (a good wash and some Neosporin and all is well). Then you use the other comb to swing sideways and move the fiber from one comb to the other. Like this:
I switched combs and did the same thing again. I made 3 passes before declaring it done, and then I took the fiber off the comb using a dizz (curved hard thing with a hole in it). This is the dizz that came with my combs – I think it’s a piece of PVC pipe:
That is ready to spin. I made a few of these and realized I was struggling due to static electricity. My combs came with a recipe for combing oil that includes glycerin, propylene glycol, water, and mineral oil… but I wasn’t that interested in it. I tried spinning some fiber sprayed with a mineral oil/water mixture during my class earlier this month, and I didn’t like it. I googled to learn more and found out that Beth Smith likes to use a mixture of 1 part Unicorn Fibre Rinse and 5 parts water – and she says it doesn’t go rancid. That was attractive to me, as I felt that any oily mixture I made would definitely get funky pretty quickly. I ordered some Unicorn Fibre Rinse (which is basically super concentrated fabric softener) and indeed, it worked like a dream. I just spritzed the fibers on the comb once or twice as needed, and the fiber behaved. Once I had that, I was able to finish prepping my fibers all on the same day. Now I have a tray of little fuzzies ready to spin!
Now I have to decide how to spin it. I initially planned to do a classic worsted yarn (combing is, after all, a classic worsted prep) and I still might. But after consulting The Spinner’s Book of Fleece, I’m intrigued by the sample that’s spun from the fold. However, I will probably end up trying the classic worsted because I have these nests of hand-combed top that are ready for that.
I guess that begs me to sample. The fluffballs are not super soft, so the yarn isn’t likely to be super soft, either. Maybe I’ll think ahead toward weaving with it. I have a long-term plan to weave fabric on my Cricket that can be sewn into smaller shoulder bags. This might work well for that.