Sunday, 1 May 2011

Comb, comb, comb the wool!

Yesterday was glorious and sunny, so I decided it was perfect for all things fibery. I got Roy out and did some spinning, then decided that I should take advantage of the heat and wash some fiber. I bought a kilo of Gottland locks last year at iKnit Day and haven't ever gotten around to doing anything with it.

So, yesterday I pulled it out and started prepping. The skirting job was not wonderful, and there were some second cuts throughout that I had to remove. Also, it being gottland, some of the fiber was just too matted to salvage. I estimate that I lost around 150g-200g of unwashed fiber. I also got rid of the fiber from the dark stripe across the back of the sheep, as the staple was quite a bit shorter than the rest.
Once I'd cleaned out the junk, I sorted it. I was thinking about doing some sort of funky gradient spinning with it, but I think a tweed effect would be much prettier. The locks range in colour from a silvery white to a dark, steely grey. The shine is just incredible, and the locks are gorgeous and long.

I thought the fiber was pretty clean when I started. It was from a coated sheep, so there's almost no plant material in it. Then I started scouring. Oh my. This was a mucky little sheep! I had to wash and rinse 6 times before the water ran clean, and I'm sure that combing will get out a lot more dirt. I've washed about 2/3 of the fiber, but my rack is full.

While the gottland was soaking I fished out the bag of Wensleydale locks I washed and flicked a few months back. I'd planned to spin them straight from the lock, but decided that I really needed to experiment with the combs before starting on the gottland. I have mini combs, which I use without a stand. I wanted to be able to use them at SCA events, so figured that using them freehand would be more portable. They're not actually that sharp, although I did get a tetanus booster before I started combing!

Of the 100g unwashed fiber I started with, I've ended up with 34g of combed top. Most of the waste was from combing, although I expect to have less waste as I get better at combing. Some of it was from the flicking, but I suspect that rather a lot was from the dirt and grease that came out in scouring. Sheep are filthy creatures!

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