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Topic: First Raw Fleece: Picking, Washing & A Question  (Read 7483 times)
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« on: April 10, 2009 06:28:22 PM »

How I got it: I called a friend who gave me the phone number of a couple that live across the street that raise sheep.  I called just mid December and was told they were going to sheer mid-March.  The lady called back April 3rd and told me to come pick up a fleece.  My mom was in the hospital so, my husband and I stole her car and went to get it.  They gave me a garbage bag full!  I'm so excited.  They were extremely nice.  Her husband made sure to give me good, usable stuff and took out parts that were garbage or just wasn't usable.

Over the last couple days I've been picking out hay and picking apart clumps of dirt.  I looked up how to process it and have washed a couple handfulls of it.  It turned amazingly white.

My problem: There's still some dirt that I can't get off.  It's been soaking for just barely under two days now.  I routinely change the water and have been using shampoo.  What should I do about the dirt that refuses to come out???  Do I cut it off?  Will it come out when I use the carders?


The dirt: (I do know some of it is hay)

(clicky pictures)
My bag of wool:


Some Post-Picking:

Now, my question:
Does anyone know where I can get hand carders cheap?  Or, anyone have any (or know anyone that has any) that they won't be using any more?  I'll take good care of them! lol.
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« Reply #1 on: April 10, 2009 06:31:51 PM »

I'll be interested to hear an experienced spinner/fiberaholic's advice is about this too. Smiley

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« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2009 07:23:05 PM »

I've found that if I tease the locks open with my fingers before I wash I get a lot of extra dirt out that I wouldn't otherwise. Post-wash, I use a dog brush from the dollar store, hold onto one end of the lock and brush it out over my knee (I do this against a plastic bag so I don't destroy my pants). I don't know if that will get the bits out of your fleece, but it's done a pretty good job for me. I've been keeping the 'bad' bits of cleaned wool from the dog brush in a bag and will be using it for stuffing at some point down the road when I have use of it.
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« Reply #3 on: April 10, 2009 07:29:42 PM »

I don't have a lot of experience with raw fleece, but I would think that carding it would be your next step.  When I did this (once), quite a bit of VM and stuff came out when I carded it.  I didn't wash it nearly as well as you have, though.
As for getting carders... well I remember having this conundrum  when I was starting out.  I ended up breaking down and buying new hand cards.  However, I hate using hand cards.  Honestly, I never bought raw fleece again.  I just buy it as combed top.
However, find out if you have a local spinning guild.  You might be able to borrow or rent one.  Or, your LYS might have them to borrow or rent.  Also, garage sales/thrift shops/estate sales are good places to check.

« Reply #4 on: April 10, 2009 07:37:56 PM »

Well, I can tell you how I deal with vm.  After washing, I dye and lightly fluff the locks to lay out to dry. Next I pick the locks with my mini picker and drum card.  Finally spin!  I find that most of the vm falls out through out the processing  As for those really dirty locks, I decide the fate of them after picking.  

I also am not a fan of handcarders.  I bought a drum carder shortly after my first set of handcarders!  I decided I love carding, just not by hand!  I know my local spinning guild rents out a drum carder for $10 a month.

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« Reply #5 on: April 10, 2009 08:26:38 PM »

I just got my first huge box of sheep angora and its was filthy filthy filthy. I had the same little bits as you have pictured but I have no money to buy hand carders so I just bought two giant dog brushes and use those. there were still some little itty bits left after carding but by the time my stuff was all dyed there was almost nothing left. The stubborn bit I just throw into my wash again or stuffing pile.

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« Reply #6 on: April 10, 2009 09:20:49 PM »

I totally understand what you are going through.

So .. for the most part ... yes with carding a lot of the VM left will drop out and more will drop out with spinning. 

My first set of carders were two $6 dog brushes from my local pet store.  I went in and looked for the ones with a solid base and that the bristles where stiff and had that bend to the end.  Try to get a pair that do not have a rubber base and definitely no rubber or plastic tips, but a hard plastic or wooden base.  These are not nearly as big as carders, but they will help you determine if you are going to enjoy hand carding or not without spending $60ish. 

When you are preparing your fleece for the wash .. the rule of thumb I go by is .. the better I skirt the better the final product. 

Any way you look at it ... starting with a raw fleece is a lot of work, but very rewarding.  I have about 400 pounds of fleece (llama and Shetland) in my garage at the moment ... and that is after cleaning about 80% of what I purchased. 

Oh and by the by ... I do not own a drum carder, I still do ALL of my carding by hand ... I did end up purchasing a full set of carders with a flicker.


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« Reply #7 on: April 10, 2009 11:49:09 PM »

Hand carding can be really fun and rewarding if you know how to do it.  I use big dog brushes, like described before.  Here is a great tutorial on making rolags from raw fleece using hand-carders.
« Reply #8 on: April 11, 2009 06:41:18 AM »

I would consider getting a set of combs. Carders (or pet brushes) do knock some vm out but I find that with carders what you put in you get out...so put in wool w/vm, you get wool w/vm out. I even gave a couple plastic combs from the dollar store a try and they actually worked quite well (and is a cheaper solution until you can buy the real deal) You can only do small amounts with them but after combing through the wool a couple times I end up with no vm.

A good video about cards vs. combs and a demo from Paradise Fibers...

I found a great site that is "A free place to find and sell wool stuff...and do good deeds, too." http://kbbspin.org/ You can find/sell spinning, weaving, knitting goods. You can even find a place for those spare alpacas you have hanging about the yard, lol. You can often find things like combs and cards there, spinning wheels and there always seems to be looms for sale. As for the good deeds they have a pet project I suppose you could call it...they like to support the Young Writers Project (you can read about it on the site).

« Reply #9 on: April 11, 2009 07:25:17 PM »

The gooey stuff in the last picture is something I personally clip out.  It wastes a bit more of the fleece, but as i like to work with uncarded locks, it makes life a lot easier for me.

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