Fiber Prep for less than $20

The economy is in the toilet. But that shouldn’t cramp our fiber addiction art. Here is the cheap and simple way to take advantage of all of those wondrous spring fleeces out there. While reducing yarn miles and supporting local shepherds.

You will need…

  • Fiber – I have 2 fleeces, but any raw fiber should work
  • Two or more lingerie bags – I like the small ones
  • Dawn dish soap
  • Wire dog slicker brush
  • For the hackle – 2-6 metal hair combs and a 12″ piece of 1×1 hardwood.
  • 1 old credit card with a hole punched through or keyring grocery store coupon card to make a Diz

So far – not including the fiber – I’ve spent $20. From this I can make top roving.

First the fiber needs to be scoured or washed. There are too many great tutorials out there for me to add another. I like to use my washing machine – but I have had good luck washing in the tub and in buckets. (If you need buckets, ask your local grocery bakery for their old frosting buckets.)

Once the fiber is clean and dry – get ready to brush it out. Grab a hunk of wool being careful to maintain the locks.

Find a lock tip – it might be lighter in color or a bit ‘crunchy’.

Gently pull that lock from the fleece. You can see the tip and butt end of the lock. Some spinners like to keep the fiber all going in the same direction, consider this when planning your landing zone for the brushed fiber. I weighted down the pile of brushed fiber with a paperback book and then carefully stored them in a gallon ziplock bag. Another note – you might consider taping up your ‘wool’ hand. I’m right handed and tore up my index finger on the brush in the first few minutes. Open cuts and raw wool just sound like a bad combination.

Holding the lock by the butt end, carefully brush out the tip. It will probably take several strokes to break up the ‘crunchies’ – just be gentle.

Turn the lock and brush out the butt end.

Brush until opened up and soft.

You can brush small locks of two different fibers to blend. Watch the staple length. Here the black wool is twice the staple of the white. It will work – sorta – but it might be better to try to blend on the hackle.

Once you have your fiber brushed out – get out your hackle. Clamp it down securely. Lash on the butt end of the fiber. You can do this in layers or stripes or whatever makes you happy.

With your diz (plastic card with hole punched out) start to pull off the top. Gently twist a bit of fiber with your fingers to a ‘yarn’ and pull that through the hole. Then gently pull fiber through the diz while pushing the diz toward the hackle. Keep tension on the fiber while you pull the diz toward you and slightly to the right. You are trying to get to as much fiber as possible, blend the colors, and maintain a fairly consistent weight if roving as you go. It takes some practice and eventually you’ll find your rhythm.

There will be waste. You can save this for another use or donate it to nesting birds.

Thats all. Now go and spin up your beautiful hand blended top roving.

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