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Author Topic: fleece to yarn... Please help  (Read 5127 times)

Hillview Farm

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Surrey
  • Proud owner of sheep and Llamas!
fleece to yarn... Please help
« on: May 29, 2013, 02:06:37 pm »
I'd quite like to take a fleece from one of my sheep and turn it into yarn so I can knit it into something.

What is the process, Equipment (cheap and simple) and the step by step way of doing it?

Any website etc. are very welcome as I do like a read!

Many thanks

jaykay

  • Joined Aug 2012
  • Cumbria/N Yorks border
Re: fleece to yarn... Please help
« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2013, 02:29:06 pm »
washing fleece

carding

spinning

There's a lot to spinning. Washing and carding are relatively simple  :) Some people say learn to spin on a spindle. I learned on a wheel and think I'd have given up if I'd tried a spindle first. If looking for a wheel, an Ashford traditional is a very good 'workhorse' and you can pick them up cheaply secondhand.

Old Shep

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • North Yorkshire
Re: fleece to yarn... Please help
« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2013, 03:26:05 pm »
can I ask what detergent you use to wash please?
Helen - (used to be just Shep).  Gordon Setters, Border Collies and chief lambing assistant to BigBennyShep.

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: fleece to yarn... Please help
« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2013, 03:35:14 pm »
 
Fibre Scour For Wool And Natural Fibres ( an Australian product) available from Wingham Wool Works, which contains Tea Tree Oil and Lemon Myrtle to help deter moths.
 
Once it's spun and for knitted garments I use Martha Gardener Country Homestead Wool Mix which I think comes from Lakeland.  The lavender one leaves a lovely smell in the wool.
www.scothebs.co.uk

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus - let sleeping dragons lie

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: fleece to yarn... Please help
« Reply #4 on: May 29, 2013, 03:55:19 pm »
I shall try those, FW, as we do have clothes moths in the environment here  :o.

But Ecover - or indeed, any - washing up liquid - works fine too; just doesn't have anything specific to deter moths.  I've been told to use white vinegar in the penultimate rinse, which restores the pH and may have a moth-deterring effect.

Best place for help is your local Guild, Hillview.  Many Guilds have spinning wheels and other equipment they can loan out to members, too.
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: fleece to yarn... Please help
« Reply #5 on: May 29, 2013, 05:17:26 pm »
 
It's great you're going to try spinning  :spin:  Hillview.  I wonder if having the craft place here on the TAS forum has helped to encourage more sheep keepers to try using their fibre?  It seems that way and I hope it's so. :knit:    Wearing the first jumper you have grown, spun and knitted is most satisfying and magical  :sunshine:
www.scothebs.co.uk

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus - let sleeping dragons lie

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: fleece to yarn... Please help
« Reply #6 on: May 29, 2013, 05:30:53 pm »
I'd quite like to take a fleece from one of my sheep and turn it into yarn so I can knit it into something.

What is the process, Equipment (cheap and simple) and the step by step way of doing it?

As Fleecewife says, it's a wondrous thing, to make and wear something from your own sheep. :)

1. clip the sheep, skirt (remove dirty and coarse parts) the fleece.
2. (optional at this stage) wash and dry the fleece; you can dye the fleece at this stage if you like, or later, or not at all.
3. prep the fibre for spinning.  Depends on the fibre and your preference.  If the fleece lends itself to it, you can just pretty much spin directly from the raw fleece; I can with some of mine.  Otherwise you can :
  a.  comb each lock, using dog or cat slicker brushes
  b.  comb all the fibre into 'tops' or 'rovings' using hand combs
  c.  card the fibre using hand carders, into 'rolags'
  d.  card the fibre using a drum carder, into 'batts'
4. (optional at this stage)  You can hand-paint colour onto the fibre now - but it's probably the most skilled dyeing process, so perhaps not best for a first time.
5.  spin the fibre into 'singles' - one-ply twisted yarns. :spin: :spin: :spin:
6.  ply singles into 2- or 3-ply knitting yarn.  :spin:
7.  'set the twist' by winding the plied yarn into skeins and washing it.
8.  (optional at this stage) If you haven't already dyed the fibre and you don't want to leave it natural, you can dye the yarn at this stage.  In a microwave, if you like - takes minutes!  Or on the stove top or in the oven.
9.  Ball the wool and knit your garment  :knit: :knit: :knit:
10.  (optional at this stage) If you haven't already dyed the fibre or yarn and you don't want to leave it natural, you can dye the FO (finished object) at this stage.
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Hillview Farm

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Surrey
  • Proud owner of sheep and Llamas!
Re: fleece to yarn... Please help
« Reply #7 on: May 29, 2013, 09:04:13 pm »
What does 1,2,3 ply mean? Sorry!

That's all very interesting Sally!

 And when you say "Depends on the fibre and your preference.  If the fleece lends itself to it, you can just pretty much spin directly from the raw fleece; I can with some of mine." How do I know what I am looking at?

 ;D

jaykay

  • Joined Aug 2012
  • Cumbria/N Yorks border
Re: fleece to yarn... Please help
« Reply #8 on: May 29, 2013, 09:38:42 pm »
1 ply - 1 strand of wool. 2 ply - 2 strands twisted together, 3 ply.....

Best bet is to see if you can meet up with some local spinners, then you can see all this sort of stuff, hear and see different wools, ways of preparing etc. The Weavers, Spinners and Dyers guilds are great, very friendly and full of knowledgeable folk with many years of experience.

The other (online) place full of such folk is Ravelry.

Mad Goatwoman of Madeley

  • Joined Sep 2011
  • Telford
Re: fleece to yarn... Please help
« Reply #9 on: May 29, 2013, 11:02:30 pm »

It's great you're going to try spinning  :spin:  Hillview.  I wonder if having the craft place here on the TAS forum has helped to encourage more sheep keepers to try using their fibre?  It seems that way and I hope it's so. :knit:    Wearing the first jumper you have grown, spun and knitted is most satisfying and magical  :sunshine:

Not a sheep-keeper but it was reading the posts in here that got me back into spinning and weaving so thanks everyone.

I don't wash my fleece before spinning as I find it easier to spin in the grease.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: fleece to yarn... Please help
« Reply #10 on: May 30, 2013, 03:12:49 am »
It's through TAS, and specifically two people on TAS, that I got into spinning at long last.  Thanks guys! :-*

when you say "Depends on the fibre and your preference.  If the fleece lends itself to it, you can just pretty much spin directly from the raw fleece; I can with some of mine." How do I know what I am looking at?
It's not something that you are going to know at this stage.  Ideally get yourself with some spinners at a local group; they'll be very happy to show you and guide you.  Otherwise you can maybe look on YouTube - look for 'spin fleece' and see what comes up; I'm afraid I don't know of one to recommend.

Fleecewife may be able to describe in words how to take a bit of raw fleece and spin it between your fingers into yarn - she's done it before. 
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Hillview Farm

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Surrey
  • Proud owner of sheep and Llamas!
Re: fleece to yarn... Please help
« Reply #11 on: June 01, 2013, 08:53:21 am »
So once I've spun enough yarn, how do I tie it off? Otherwise if I cut it off wont it just un twist?

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: fleece to yarn... Please help
« Reply #12 on: June 01, 2013, 09:13:48 am »
The very end bit will untwist a little yes, but the bulk of it is wound around the bobbin and can't untwist. 

Wool has 'memory' and tries to stay where it's been; when you first twist it it wants to go back to being straight, but after a little while it settles into being twisted and wants to stay twisted.  You reactivate it by wetting it.

So you spin your singles onto bobbins and ply them together onto another bobbin.  You then wind the plied yarn under tension (so it can't untwist) into a skein, tie this in a few places so it can't untwist and 'set the twist' by washing it.  It's wet and twisted, so it dries with that twist, which is thereby 'set'.  Then you knit with it, or whatever, and the twist is well and truly captured.

Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Hillview Farm

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Surrey
  • Proud owner of sheep and Llamas!
Re: fleece to yarn... Please help
« Reply #13 on: June 01, 2013, 02:02:29 pm »
Ahhh Very interesting and helpful sally :) thank you.

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: fleece to yarn... Please help
« Reply #14 on: June 01, 2013, 04:37:17 pm »

Fleecewife may be able to describe in words how to take a bit of raw fleece and spin it between your fingers into yarn - she's done it before.

OK this will help you to understand what happens to fleece when you spin it, as well as being part of how to assess a fleece for spinning
 
Go to one of your shorn fleeces and remove a lock - like a lock of hair, it's a small bunch of wool, in the order in which it grows so pulled out in one piece.  Even just removing this from the fleece will teach you something about how a fleece is held together.
 
So have a good look at that lock.  You will see it has a cut end and a tip; the cut end is called the butt end, and the tip is called - tada - the tip  ;D   In Texels, Suffolks and most modern breeds, that lock will be 'blocky' in other words it is about the same width and thickness from butt to tip.   In certain primitive breeds which have a double coat, you would see that the lock is triangular in shape, wider at the butt and narrowing to a point at the tip, with softer wool nearer to the body and hairier or coarser wool or hair towards the tip.
 
Often the tip in particular, but sometimes the butt, are a bit stuck together, so use your fingers to open up the fibres.  This allows each fibre to move over its neighbour and not stick to it.  A fleece which does this is nice and open, and could be spun directly from the fleece without further preparation.   If it won't open up, but is matted together, then you won't be able to prepare the fleece by hand.  If it's badly matted then you won't be able to get it machine carded either. In fact, seeing if your fleece is matted or open is the first step in assessing your fleece for spinning.
 
Once you have opened out your lock, you can either roll it into a soft sausage shape, or you can just fold it over the finger tip of your non-dominant hand.   With your dominant hand, take hold of a tiny amount of fleece, either from one end of the sausage (which is called a rolag) or from the middle of the folded lock, which will be on the top of your finger, with each end hanging down.  Don't pinch your rolag but let it lie loosely in your hand, like a little bird. 
Pull the fleece in your dominant hand away from the rolag, pinching the bit you are pulling as you twist, twisting all the time between your thumb and first or second finger (a rolling motion a bit like snapping your fingers), and keeping pulling gently .  Pinching at that point will stop the twist running up into the rolag.  If the twist does run up into the rolag you will find it very difficult to pull, or draft, any more. This is one of the characteristics of fibres, where it is far easier to draw from untwisted fibres than from twisted ones, and is something to experiment with..  Experiment with how much you need to twist to make a singles thread.  You will find that you are limited by the length of your arms with how long your thread will be.  Once it's as long as you can make it and is spun enough to hold itself tight, but not so tight that it twists and turns, loop the middle over an upright bit such as a chair back, or someone's finger, or your big toe, then bring the two ends together, allowing the two ends to ply into a two-ply length of yarn.  You can give this an extra twist or two if it's very loose.   Initially the yarn would unwind, so make a tiny roll with it.
 
Keep playing with bits of fleece, finger spinning as described, or just drawing it out to see how wool behaves.  You will find that quite magically the wool fibres seem to want to cling to eachother - this is because each fibre has little scales along its length and these hook onto eachother.  Other fibres don't have these scales so can need more experience to spin.
You can try combing the lock to see how it's often easier to spin from that.  You can also try a different type of spinning - worstead as opposed to woollen, by doing your finger spinning directly from the tip or butt end without making a rolag or fold.  You will see that will give you a smoother yarn but you may well need to twist it more.
 
Try this whole process with your various sheep breeds to see how they compare.
 
For a full fleece assessment there is plenty more to do, but this is how to finger spin. Once you try spindle spinning or wheel spinning you will be producing longer lengths of yarn then wrapping them onto the spindle to hold the twist.
 
Phew - a picture certainly would be better than a thousand words  :relief: :spin:
« Last Edit: June 01, 2013, 04:58:33 pm by Fleecewife »
www.scothebs.co.uk

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus - let sleeping dragons lie

 

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