The Accidental Smallholder Forum

Food & crafts => Crafts => Topic started by: Anke on December 18, 2019, 05:25:23 pm

Title: Too fine a fleece for my drum carder?
Post by: Anke on December 18, 2019, 05:25:23 pm
I am trying for the first time ever to spin one of my black Shetland fleeces.... but it seems to be just too fine for my drum carder (Classic carders, standard, I think 72dpi)?
For anyone who spins Shetland fleece a lot - is this common or expected (finer fleece for black than say white or grey from katmoget)? I have washed it, not felted up or anything, but incredibly soft and I cannot get it carded well enough to spin properly. I have tried to take it through about 10 times and no better... would the finer drum be better? I cannot hand-card anything more than a few rolags due to arthritis in my left hand in particular.


Title: Re: Too fine a fleece for my drum carder?
Post by: SallyintNorth on December 18, 2019, 08:06:33 pm
My experience is that with fibre as sproingy as Shetland, you have to be incredibly gentle while drum carding.  Very very slow gentle movements, or the fibres ping back on themselves and create noils.  And card once only or at most twice, if itís got lumps in after that it wonít improve, so use for textured yarn, or spin longdraw and full hard to try to capture and secure the little nepps.
Title: Re: Too fine a fleece for my drum carder?
Post by: SallyintNorth on December 18, 2019, 08:07:09 pm
You may also find it very helpful to sharpen and clean your carderís teeth ;)
Title: Re: Too fine a fleece for my drum carder?
Post by: SallyintNorth on December 18, 2019, 08:08:26 pm
Oh, and some people say to place the locks direct on the drum, donít use the licker-in.  (Will reduce the opportunities for getting stretched out and boinging back into noils.)
Title: Re: Too fine a fleece for my drum carder?
Post by: Fleecewife on December 19, 2019, 01:21:06 am
I had started combing fine shetland fleece for that reason, but I'm losing the pinch grip in my right hand so difficult to do. Now I am trying using a blending board to just open and pull the locks down the teeth, then roll with a stick into rolags once the board is full - although I only do one side as it's easier to take short rolags off than long ones.  I tend to take the oportunity to blend in silk, or some of the modern plant fibres, which make for a flecked appearance when dyed as the wool takes up dyes differently to the veg fibres. 
I've never had a really good black or moorit Shetland fleece  :spin: . Lucky you!
Title: Re: Too fine a fleece for my drum carder?
Post by: Anke on December 19, 2019, 03:52:53 pm
Yeah, I think combing might be the answer -  but a whole fleece? I 'll do a proper clean of my carder as well and see if I can feed directly onto the bigger drum.

But I have also found that I shouldn't be doing black fleece in winter.... my lights are not good enough and it is very tiring on my eyes... so I have put it into a box for the time  being and can fiddle with it in the meantime, and wash a white fleece for winter work instead.
The other issue is that is also a shorter staple length than my white ones... the sire of that girl was a very short coated but fine black tup called "Muck"...
Title: Re: Too fine a fleece for my drum carder?
Post by: SallyintNorth on December 19, 2019, 04:28:10 pm
If you have small hand combs - Louets or Majacraft, for instance - you can spin directly from the combs.  Lash on, one pass, spin from each comb. Itís my go-to method for almost all fibre when Iím getting to know it, and for short staple very fine, itís generally my preferred prep.
Title: Re: Too fine a fleece for my drum carder?
Post by: Mad Goatwoman of Madeley on December 20, 2019, 12:10:40 am
I'm reading this with interest as I was gifted a Shetland fleece by a friend who visits Shetland several times a year and is always there for Wool Week. I've started teasing it out by hand and it looks as though it should just spin from the fleece. What do other spinners think?

Title: Re: Too fine a fleece for my drum carder?
Post by: Anke on December 20, 2019, 10:43:32 am
I'm reading this with interest as I was gifted a Shetland fleece by a friend who visits Shetland several times a year and is always there for Wool Week. I've started teasing it out by hand and it looks as though it should just spin from the fleece. What do other spinners think?
Have you washed it?
I always wash mine, carefully with Ecover, then drip-dry over several days. I think there would be strong objections from the rest of the clan if I tried to spin a raw fleece in the house...
I have never tried to spin straight from the fleece without carding.
Title: Re: Too fine a fleece for my drum carder?
Post by: Fleecewife on December 20, 2019, 11:53:40 am
If you choose your fleece well, then spinning direct without carding is a great experience.  The best fleece for that is a Shetland which has been roo'd clump by clump, and sorted while you do it.  It needs very little subsequent teasing out and can be spun from the side of the clump which becomes woollen spun, or from the tips.  Another way would be to spin from the fold over your finger, or to roll each opened clump into a mini rolag.  You could play with that over the winter while you wait for the light.  If you spread a white cloth over your lap or wear a pale pinny when spinning dark fleece it does make it easier to see.
A fresh roo'd ewe fleece really doesn't smell if you keep the well skirted and sorted main bulk somewhere else and only have a small bag with you while you prep and spin, but the oil in it make for great spinning, in front of the fire to keep it warm.
Title: Re: Too fine a fleece for my drum carder?
Post by: SallyintNorth on December 20, 2019, 05:12:57 pm
I'm reading this with interest as I was gifted a Shetland fleece by a friend who visits Shetland several times a year and is always there for Wool Week. I've started teasing it out by hand and it looks as though it should just spin from the fleece. What do other spinners think?

It will spin, why not do 10g or so, wash it and dry it and see if you like the yarn?  You wonít get as light and fluffy a yarn as you would with a rolag and longdraw, nor a yarn that gives as much stitch definition as a combed prep would, but youíll get a usable yarn and if you like the yarn and like spinning it that way, why not? 

Have you washed it?
I always wash mine, carefully with Ecover, then drip-dry over several days. I think there would be strong objections from the rest of the clan if I tried to spin a raw fleece in the house...

Me, my clothes, my dog and my house pretty much always smell of sheep anyway, so I figure it makes little difference! lol. 

And I love the bloom you get when you wash a yarn spun in the grease.  The grease comes out (all milky white, looking like you spilled some milk into the bowl) when you wash the yarn in hot water with Ecover or whatever, and the spun yarn blooms into something softer and lighter than it seemed on the bobbin.  Itís the kid in me, but I love it!  :excited:
Title: Re: Too fine a fleece for my drum carder?
Post by: Polyanya on January 27, 2020, 01:59:38 pm
I'm rather late to this post but I work with my shetland sheep's fleece all the time and use a drum carder with 72 tpi also use a 48 tpi. I use Louet hand combs which are specifically for fine fleece. I don't have many issues with the carded fleece except having to put up with my husbands hand shearing methods of short second cuts (which leads to hundreds or neps  ::))
My process is to skirt the fleece and generally work with the superfine front half only using the back half if it doesn't feel like a brillo pad (black fleece can be very prone to this) and only using fleece thats longer than 2" because I find anything less a real pain.
I'll then soak it in hand hot water with copious amounts of Bio D washing up liquid (bearing in mind Shetland fleece has less lanolin than many other breeds) - no agitation and empty sink before the water cools. Usually I'm dyeing the wool so I'll only rinse once with similar temp fresh water.
I use the lakeland plastics mesh laundry bags and find I can get a whole fleece in two of the pillow case sized laundry bags BEFORE I soak in hot water.
Then its easy to lift each bag full of wet fleece and dump into the washing machine for a short spin. After that I have two drying racks and I fluff out the fleece to help with drying and turn frequently.
Before carding on the drum (and I use the licker) I'll open up small amounts of dry fleece and card away. I'll usually put it through the carder 2 to 3 times and when spinning, something that helps to tame the wool,  spray a little water/washing up liquid solution or conditioner,  on the pre-drafted length or rollag or however you spin.

You've probably got your fleece all sorted out by now Anke- but I just wanted to share my process of working with shetland fleece. What have you made with it?
Title: Re: Too fine a fleece for my drum carder?
Post by: SallyintNorth on January 27, 2020, 04:59:48 pm
The short cuts are easiest to remove the instant the fleece is off the sheep.

Take the fleece, throw it down outside down (so cut side uppermost) and you should be able to see and wipe away most of the second cuts :)

Once you start handling it, and definitely once it's washed, you have very little chance of finding and removing them.

Another option is to learn to shear the sheep yourself, of course ;)
Title: Re: Too fine a fleece for my drum carder?
Post by: Anke on January 27, 2020, 05:07:04 pm
Well I have put the black fleece away for the time being and am currently spinning a lovely white fleece from a 1st shear ewe that also has some Gotland in her. Even though I also have to work round some double cuts from the shearer (but you cannot be too choosey if you want a small flock clipped in late May around here...), but it is manageable.

I am seriously thinking of getting a Gotland tup next year for my Shetland girls, not lambing this spring anyway, as awaiting hip operation.... (hopefully I can still spin after it...)
Title: Re: Too fine a fleece for my drum carder?
Post by: SallyintNorth on January 28, 2020, 01:48:11 am
I found I got a lot less second cuts with the electric shearers when I asked the guys to use narrower cutters.  The big wide cutters are fine for a chunky, well-fleshed Texel type, but the curve of the little primitive's bodies make second cuts absolutely inevitable with the wide cutters.  It takes them a little longer per sheep, so I told them to charge me more to compensate.  At that time (four years ago), they charged £1.10 per commercial ewe and £1.25 for my little ones.  We had 230+ adult sheep on the farm, so it would be two guys for one day and one guy for a second day.  They'll not get rich, will they!
Title: Re: Too fine a fleece for my drum carder?
Post by: Polyanya on January 28, 2020, 10:39:24 am
Sorry to hear about your hip Anke, hope all goes well. Now I've never tried Gotland fleece before does it have a good crimp? I don't keep many sheep and am astonished in how variable the fleece is from each animal even though they are as near to the primitives as possible.

Thanks for the tip Sally, think if I removed all the second cuts before rolling and washing there'd be nothing left  :roflanim: Seriously I could learn to shear myself I know but I might make a worse job than hubby, he uses hand shears. Some sheep are very wriggly and I don't think I could hold them.  There are shearers who come to the island and like you say charge about £1 per fleece (I think) but he enjoys doing it, so..........
Title: Re: Too fine a fleece for my drum carder?
Post by: SallyintNorth on January 28, 2020, 01:28:40 pm
I sheared all my own sheep apart from some of the lambed ewes in 2018.  (Several wethers and other fleece sheep, and about 12 hoggs.)  I did them standing up (them and me), in a small pen, largely unrestrained.  I just had to pop them on their bums to do underneath, and some of them didn't like their legs being clipped standing free.  Hand shears, of course.  I took off chunks as I went, sorting into "spinnable" and "dirty/not nice", and white and colours as I went - which is fine for me to use but meant I didn't get whole fleeces to sell.

I did one to three a day over a period. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the time with the sheep, and the insights into them and their fleece that it gave me.  I will definitely be happy to do some of them again.  Didn't have the spare time last year, but should be able to do some this year.
Title: Re: Too fine a fleece for my drum carder?
Post by: Anke on January 28, 2020, 02:11:53 pm
I quite often end up doing the odd ewe by hand after the shearer has done the main flock, as there is always one that decides she is not going into the pen.... and then also halter on and in a corner of two hurdles, so you can press them against the hurdle and change sides easily by swiveling the sheep round. Fortunately this last summer all got into the pen, as my hip would not have allowed me to do any shearing... but I am thinking of getting OH to build me a trimming stand (like the ones I see people using at Great Yorkshire Show, which even move the sheep up to a proper working height so you don't have to stoop so much), so I can do more at home... as shearer is near retirement.
RE Gotland wool - pure Gotland wool is quite difficult, as it tends to felt on the sheep unless you clip them twice per year, but the cross between Shetland and Gotland produces an excellent fleece and a bit more size to the offspring as well. But Gotland feet are terrible, so they do need some more looking after compared to Shetlands.
Title: Re: Too fine a fleece for my drum carder?
Post by: Polyanya on January 29, 2020, 08:09:03 pm
I'm impressed ladies - don't think I have the stamina to be honest but I quite like the sound of your sheep stand Anke at working height no less, I could probably manage that - save all the backaches. Gotland fleece felting and here was me thinking my fleece felts when I even look at it! They must be similar breeds.