I've heard that wethers produce good fleeces somewhere before. Why is that, is it just luck of the draw, or is it a 'man' thing?
To be honest, its not the spinning which is preventing me making a start, but the time it takes to card the wool. Oh! and I need to buy the equipment too. Would a drum carder be a lot quicker than the hand version? Thanks!
I think wethers produce better fleece simply because they don't have the stresses of lambbearing which ewes have. Any stress on the animal, such as an illness will produce a check in wool growth, which shows as weakness in the fibre. Tup fleece tends to smell horrible, but wethers don't suffer from that.
You don't need expensive equipment to make a start on spinning. I can remember trying to go the bulk route myself, but really all you need is a spindle and a pair of hand cards. That way you will be learning from the feel of what you are doing at each stage. You won't produce much yarn, although it is possible to get very quick with a spindle, but you will be learning the properties of fleece. 'Spinning' can be taken to refer to all the processes involved in producing yarn, so try not to think of carding as a waste of time and getting in the way before you can start the spinning itself - that is always the quick part.
I recently bought a beautiful hand-turned Turkish spindle which is a delight to use, and very easy to control. It also has the advantage of producing a ball of yarn straight from the spindle. Unfortunately the lady who made it doesn't have a website. (The Ashford equivalent is big and clumsy and not really suitable for fine yarns).I'll see if i can get a pic of it.
Meanwhile, a way of seeing the properties of any fleece you are looking at is to do a small piece of 'finger spinning'. To do this, you take a tiny lock of fleece, open out the tips and butt (work them gently with your fingers until the fibres are separated), roll it into a fluffy tube so the fibres run around it, not lengthways, then draw out some fibres, twisting them as you do so. Continue to draw and twist until you have a few inches of spun yarn, then fold it in half, back on itself to form a short section of two ply yarn. This will show you how freely the fleece spins and the type of yarn you can get from it. It takes a while to get the hang of it at first but it is a good way of assessing a fleece quickly for its spinnability.