I had a few friends over yesterday to spin on the porch, and we had a great time of course, but I left the tables set up out there so that this morning I could set up to card at least one of the Museum fleeces to finish that rug.
Each fleece is in it's own pillow case. There was one fleece that seems extra fine, so I will save that for when I am doing spinning demonstrations at the Museum of Appalachia. The rest however will be made into fleece rugs. I finally got all the lanolin out of the fleeces, it took 3 washes and now we are ready to card. There is still plenty of Vegetable matter in there though, tiny, tiny bits of stuff that you couldn't pick out if you wanted to.
Previously I had gone through this fleece and I had separated out the short cuts and matted bits, which left the best locks behind. I take a handful of locks and I open them up by hand and then I turn the crank on the drum carder which turns the small roller which takes the locks a few at a time to the big drum. Once the drum is full, I carefully take the batt off of the carder and split it into 4 lengths and I feed each length spread out onto the carder again. I repeat that step at least 1 more time and it is done!
Once the batt is done and off the drum carder, I move it inside to keep my black cat off of it, she loves these white fleeces, but she leaves little bits of herself, little black hairs, behind in the wool. When I go to the loom I will split this batt, and all the other batts, in half lengthwise, with the grain if you will, and then both of those halves will be split again in half, to make a good size for my rug.
Once I have finished all the rugs with the Museum fleeces, I will move on to the Scottish Blackface fleeces. You may remember that I was not happy about the Scottish Blackface last week, and that was because I had thought that I would be able to drum card them as well as they are, guard hairs and all, and use that for the rugs. I did a sample batt, and there were so many guard hairs and kemp that I could not even imagine using them for rugs! Frankly, I was a little grossed out! So I put that on the back burner for a few days, while I figured out what to do to de-hair all 4 fleeces.
De-hairing fleeces has been historically my downfall. There, I said it! I have spent hours de-hairing Nigora fleeces by hand with little to show for it! I was so discouraged that for the last 2 years, I have been storing the Nigora fleeces, (9 of them) wondering what I was going to do. Now, it seemed that I was adding to that 4 Scottish Blackface fleeces with mega guard hairs that make the Nigora guard hairs look like silk! I was so discouraged!!!!
I have done a lot of research online, for a long time, looking for a way to de-hair at home quickly and easily. Finally, 2 weeks ago, I ordered a set of double pitch mini combs from the Woolery. This set is not the Louet mini combs, but they are very similar. Anyway, the little combs arrived, and when I had a moment to do it, I loaded one of them up with the Scottish Blackface locks, and I began to comb. I immediately saw that the tines were close enough together to trap all the kemp and a lot of the guard hairs! With each pass the guard hairs were being left behind in the combs, along with short cuts and vm. I kept going, back and forth until there were barely any guard hairs left in the wool. I pulled off the wool, and I did another comb full! When I had pulled off this second comb full, I reloaded the already de-haired wool back onto the combs, did a pass to combine the 2 batches and pulled off a lovely nest of wool with hardly any guard hairs at all! If you are thinking about de-hairing a fleece, I must warn you that there is an incredible amount of waste, most of it guard hairs, but some of it is good wool that you might be tempted to try to recover it, that choice my friends, I leave with you.
I am over the moon with happiness! I was so discouraged that I would look out in the field and see my 9 goats and their beautiful fleece and wonder what I was going to do! You know that pressure, that hopeless feeling! Now, I can look out and see their beautiful fleeces and imagine it turned into de-haired comb top, like this.
Be sure you click this photo to enlarge the picture. You don't want to miss the shine!
Until next week, Breath deeply, Tina