After washing your fleece and making sure it is completely dry, it’s time to tease it. I have been trying to come up with something clever to say about teasing the fleece, but alas, the words have escaped me. I even thought about taking pictures of me making faces at the pile of washed fleece but decided against it.
Some of my family members have picked on me a bit, however.
“Have you been fleeced yet?” my sister-in-law asked my husband over Facebook messaging.
My husband responded, “Ewe are ba-a-a-a-a-d!”
We got a good laugh. In the midst of jokes about fiber consumption (we also eat a lot of whole grains) and quips about sheep, I did manage to sit down with pile of fleece and get down to teasing it. I did this while we were out in the garage washing more fleece.
Teasing the fleece is easy, yet time consuming. You’ll need a basket of washed fleece, a bucket or newspaper and a clean bag or basket. Put the basket of unteased fleece on one side of your chair, the bucket or newspaper in front of you, and the bag or basket for your teased fleece on the other side. Then, grab a section of unteased fleece and start pulling it apart, or opening up the fibers and pick out any vegetable matter or matted clots of fiber that you see and let them drop onto the newspaper or into the bucket. It’s that simple. Then, put the clean fleece in the bag and go for more fiber. See?
Pulling out the globs of matted fiber, as you can see in the picture directly above, is a good way to ensure that you will have a smooth spinning time once you get to that step in making your yarn.
This is time consuming, but necessary. I recently bought some inexpensive fiber that I wanted to try, without really looking at it. When I got it out of the bag, however, I realized why it was inexpensive – there were a lot of neps, or small tangled spots that look like little fur balls, in the fiber and more vegetable matter (VM) than I wanted. It was hard to get a nice continuous spin on that fiber because I had to keep stopping to pull out the VM. Spinning neps into yarn makes a bumpy spot, which is undesirable but not the end of the world. I just didn’t enjoy the experience of spinning to fiber as much as I could have so next time I’ll ask if I can open the bag and take a look before I buy.
Teasing is a nice activity for when you’re just sitting around waiting for your other fleece to wash. Or you could also grab a favorite movie and watch while you’re going at it. In fact, it kind of reminds me of folding mounds of laundry – the amount that collects when you have small children. Like folding laundry, teasing fleece is a mindless activity but worth it, so make the most of it. At the end you will have a nice fluffy mound of fiber that is fun to feel and ready for carding or combing. (As a side note, depending on your kids, you may even lasso them into teasing with you. Certainly, if a bored teenager were to wander into the garage … heh, heh, heh).
While teasing the wool, I found that my hands got pretty dry so I might keep some non-greasy lotion handy next time. We also learned that breezes are not your friend when teasing fiber. It was an accident. I left the garage at one point and hubby decided to clean up a bit where I was sitting. He moved my fleece outside for a few minutes and when I returned I found that the breeze had caught some of my teased fleece and it was blowing around the alley. So guess what? After picking it up I had to tease it again. Fortunately, there wasn’t that much so it wasn’t a big deal. Stuff like that just happens.
In our washing this week we tried the cold water soak that Kate Larson mentioned in her book “The Practical Spinners Guide to Wool” before our first wash. The results were remarkable. The water after the first wash came out a lot cleaner than did our previous batch of wool in which we didn’t soak the fleece.
See how clean it is? The water in the cold soak tub was a nasty brown, but Larson said that it is potassium rich and good for plants so we poured it onto our garden plot. We’ll see if it helps later in the year. I don’t see why it wouldn’t.
So next weekend, we are going to finish washing this fleece. There is still quite a bit left, but we’ll get it. Meanwhile, hubby is working on something for the next step.
This is the only picture he let me take but there will be more as he refines the process. Do you know what he is making?