Friday, June 15, 2012

Making Yarn from Fleece

At the fN Happy Farm where I was WWOOFing, Angela had a few bags of sheep fleece that she wanted turned into yarn for the purpose of holding up tomatoes and such. I thought this would be a good place for me to experiment with making yarn, and she agreed to let me give it a go! 

This post has my own pictures and notes from the experience, but it's not very comprehensive. If you want solid instructions, try these places: Building An Ark - Preparing Wool for Yarn Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3; and Joy of Hand Spinning carding instructions

Here's the fleece/wool in its raw form. It's full of bits of hay, and the brown-ish colour is from the oil (lanolin) on sheep.  

Obviously you need to get rid of the gunk. Here is the soap used to wash the fleece.

Here's the method I used for washing the fleece: put the fleece in a laundry bag, and use two bins: one for the soap, one for rinse water. This picture is after the first round of washing - look how dirty that wash water is! I did another wash after the rinse.

 After the washing, you need to let it dry somewhere where it can get lots of air, but no direct sunlight. Here's Angela's set up - a mesh screen to go over and under the fleece. I put this in a shady area, and since it was warm out, it only took an afternoon to dry.
Here's what it looks like post-washing - way cleaner!

Now to get into making the yarn. The fibers need to be sussed out into the longest fibers possible. I don't know how to explain this in words - but when you do it, it makes sense!
After that, you get into carding. (This isn't my picture - I forgot to take a picture). This is a seriously tricky process, and I think it's best to learn from someone who knows how to do it already, and just practice over and over again. You're essentially teasing out the fabric so that it can be as long of a piece of fabric as possible.

This is what the fleece looks like after carding, and it's these tubes that you feed into the spinning wheel or drop spindle.

Here is Angela's spinning wheel. I never got to the point of mastering this though. You have to combine the rhythm of your foot with doing something very specific with your fingers... yeah I think I'll work next on learning to use a drop spindle, then move into this! 

These are my failed attempts at making yarn :( 

1 comment:

  1. Love it! You could just use the cleaned wool for felting, though - easier than making it into yarn...