So this week was a fun spinning week because I not only spent three hours spinning my blue/brown shetland/alpaca roving, I also was able to take a two hour class on fleece from Corriedale sheep.
On Saturdays I just pack up my stuff – spinning wheel, knitting project and everything else . . .
and I drive to Countrywool – which is contained in a little building behind Claudia’s house.
This is Claudia.
She’s my teacher.
So this week I learned that the Corriedale sheep is a mix of the Lincoln breed (longer fiber with a rough texture) and the Merino breed (short fiber length but beautiful soft texture). They also do better in desert areas as their hooves cannot handle wet areas well. Oh well. I don’t have any land for them anyway.
The fleece we were given was washed and then wet again before we started to work with it. It had also already been picked apart.
This is what it looks like.
Once it has been picked – and no longer is in “locks” – you take a clump in your hand . . .
and basically push it against the bottom inch of your hand-carder – oops – let me introduce the hand carders
They look like the scary type of dog brushes with their bent metal tines. But back to the carding.
You push the clump against the bottom inch of your hand carder – not hard – you just want it to grip some of it – and then pull away from the carder
It will hang onto the amount it wants to hold and let the rest go.
Once the entire edge of the carder is holding fleece . . .
you start carding, which is just combing the fleece with the other carder without actually having the tines of either carder make contact. I am holding the carders in the air for the pictures but I do this with one carder on my leg (left hand) while combing upward in a 45 degree angle with my right hand.
Basically about half of your fleece will go onto the second carder and you will be simultaneously be carding both halves with each stroke.
And eventually all those crimped and tangled locks will loosen up and straightened out and you will get this.
Isn’t that cool?!
Now, there are two steps which come next which get all of the fiber off of one carder and onto the other – that’s the part I keep forgetting. I have tried a few different things and usually get most of the fiber onto on carder, but there is always that extra little bit that I have to pull off and add to the other carder. Claudia is showing me how to do the second step in the photo of her above – I just forgot the one I thought I would remember and therefore did not take the picture of. Sigh. So we will skip that for right now. (I will let you know how to do it next week after I talk to Claudia – another sigh).
So, once you get it all onto one hand carder, you roll it up into a cigar shape called a rolag.
Then, holding your rolag in your left hand (assuming you are right-handed like me) you start pulling it out from one end to make your roving.
Then you take your roving, wrap it around you hand like a bird nest
and these are what you spin.
It is incredible to spin. It feels wonderful and you are able to get really fine thread with this process.
What surprised me is how much fiber I got from what was really a small amount of fleece when spinning. It goes much further than I expected. Here is what I have spun so far – and that is really one three or four nests.
I want to give Jesse credit for helping me take these pictures. He did really well with setting the focus. I also found out that he had both carded fleece and spun it during a field trip to the Shaker Village.
Holding out on me. Hey – maybe he knows the part I can’t remember about getting the fleece all on one card.
Got to go.
“Hey, Jesse . . . . .