I have seen the light! (As in light and fluffy.) Never the type of person to even want to process my own fiber, I have recently been convinced.
Oh, I'd tried it before—started with a raw fleece, washed, and handcarded (and handcarded) and got small quickly disappearing rolags. To be honest, it just didn't seem worth it when I could buy prepared fiber in every color of the rainbow and even more blended in ways I never would imagine. And it is so easy—half the work is already done. All you have to do is a little sorting, stripping, and maybe some predrafting. However, the more I am around spinning, the more I learn there is always a price for taking the easy way.
Spinners by nature like to make things from scratch. Making their own fabric isn’t enough so they start making their own yarn—and many of them even begin the exciting journey of processing their own fibers. While your friends and family may be wondering when you’re going to buy your first flock of sheep (perhaps you have already?), the spinning experts at Interweave compiled this amazing free eBook, A Guide to Processing Wool to Make Wool Roving: Washing Wool, Carding Wool, and Combing Wool, entirely dedicated to the art of wool processing. These instructions on how to wash wool, how to card wool, and how to comb wool should make the process of preparing raw wool for spinning easy and fun.
Since I am relatively new to spinning and definitely a novice at processing wool, this eBook was a huge help to me in understanding the ins and outs, as well as different options available, to getting the fiber I want to spin with. From instructions on how to properly wash wool to how to flick, hand-, and drumcard wool to how to use minicombs, this free eBook should make the process of preparing raw wool for spinning easy and fun for beginners like me, as well as more experienced spinners looking for tips. Just like the difference between handspun and millspun yarn, garden tomatoes and store-bought tomatoes, there is a difference when the processing is done by hand.
Sneak-Peek at the Processing Wool Guides and Projects Inside:
Fiber Preparation: What are Roving, Top, and Sliver?
By Abby Franquemont
The word “roving” is used to refer to any unspun fiber. This isn’t really accurate and doesn’t give a clear sense of what the fiber processing really is. In this article, Abby explains the difference between worsted yarns and woolen yarns and goes over the different types of fiber preparations available for handspinners. She defines fiber processing terms such as rolag (a puffy roll of fiber made with hand carders), batt (a blanket of carded wool made on a drumcarder), roving (carded wool produced by hand or industrial equipment), sliver (thinner variant of a roving), puni, and mawatas. The clear descriptions and detailed illustrations will guide through the basics of wool processing.
By Robin Russo
Follow Robin as she teaches you how to wash wool. It is a process that eludes most new spinners and can even cause problems for the most proficient wool worker. Getting the raw wool squeaky clean and not felting it in the process is a challenging part of the wool processing journey. There are many methods used for washing wool, depending on the type of wool you’re washing, the water you’re using, the space you have, and the quantity of raw wool you need to wash.
By Carol Huebscher Rhoades
A flick carder looks like a small flat-back hand carder with a small surface for the carding cloth and a slightly longer handle than that of a handcard. Flick carding wool can be the first step of hand carding. You can spin from the ends or the fold of clicked locks to produce semiworsted yarn, or prepare the locks further by using a hand carder or a drumcarder. Many fibers from fine to coarse, especially raw wool, are suitable for flick carding. “Light and easy” is always the key here.
The Handcarding Process
A book excerpt from Spin It: Making Yarn from Scratch By Lee Raven, Edited by Traci Bunkers (Interweave, 2003)
Learn how to card wool using wool carders (also called wool cards). Wool hand carders handle a wide range of fiber types and diameters. The purpose of handcarding wool is to open, separate, and straighten the wool fibers. The product is a small batt or rolag of wool. Carded wool is also easier to control in the spinning process. The woolen yarns produced with hand-carded fibers are warmer and fuzzier than worsted yarns—they are excellent for knitting and crocheting.
By Robin Russo
Carding wool is a process of brushing clean fibers over opposing sets of short wire teeth to open and separate the fibers into a uniform mass. This can be accomplished with a set of hand carders, a small tabletop drumcarder, or a very large industrial carding machine. New spinners often find using hand carders for large projects to be a tedious task. Using a drumcarder can change their perspective. Follow Robin’s carding instructions and learn how to adjust your drumcarder, maintain it, and eventually make processing wool as much part of the journey as the spinning and knitting.
By Carol Huebscher Rhoades
Many spinners prefer spinning short forward draw from combed fiber to produce worsted yarns that are dense and smooth. However, combing wool with large wool combs can be very expensive. This article focuses of the basics of using minicombs to prepare locks of fiber for spinning yarns. Yarn spun short draw using these preparations can be considered semiworsted.
In this free guide to processing wool, you will learn the basics of what fiber processing involves. You will move on to explore proven methods of washing wool without felting it. Finally, you will learn to use carding processes to produce woolen yarns that are soft, lofty, fuzzy, warm, bouncy, and lightweight; or use combing preparations to produce worsted-spun yarns with fibers tucked inward for smooth, long-wearing garments.