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Spinning a Single Fleece

Posted: 5th February 2024
Author: Catherine Wright

A slap dash guide to Fleece Preparation

Where do I begin? - Just go for it

If there is one thing as a beginner spinner you can be sure of - you ask ten different people how to process a fleece and you will get ten different answers.

It can be very easy to get lost in the amount of options so this post is hoping to inspire you to just have a go. Even if it's just once. You'll learn so much and then you can hone your own process, making tweaks along the way. Remember, people have been doing this for 1000's of years, mostly as far as I'm aware, not many of them died. Here are my thoughts...

Fleece Prep- Where do I start?

  1. Don't get overwhelmed about the process. Sadly for farmers at the moment, fleece are not raising a huge amount of money. What this means is that you will be able to pick up a fleece cheaply. So if you make a pigs ear out of the process, there will be plenty more fleeces for you to hone your skills on. Allow yourself to learn
  2. Just go for it, even if you (as I did the first time) throw a whole fleece in bath and work your way through it not knowing what on earth you're doing, you will still learn a huge amount. I really don't recommend this option but if you did do it, what's the worst that can happen? In my case, water on the floor, down the stairs, in the hall, the dining room....
  3. If you do have the time to separate the different sections of the fleece, then this is a great option. If you buy from a farmer, you'll get what you're given and that will include muck, vm (vegetable matter) poo etc.. It'll be obvious the sections of the fleece that need separating off, the back end you'll want to avoid but also underneath where the fleece will hit grass and mud, those areas can be pulled away from the main body of the fleece and disposed of
  4. For washing, I fill a pan of water with a squirt of washing up liquid, place my sections of fleece on top and push it down. I then heat up to hand hot and allow it to soak for around 45 minutes to an hour and then let it cool down.
  5. Tip the water out which will be pretty dirty and then you can either wash again (which I rarely do to be honest) on hang out to dry
  1. Then card or comb the fibre. Carding will be the most accessible option, you can get hand carders or even pet carders if you're just giving it a go to see whether you like the process

Obviously fleece prep is a huge rabbit hole and the more you learn, the more effort you'll put in. It's very rewarding to do the process from start to finish, so please just give it a try

If you're in the Liverpool area, we have our monthly meet full of people who love wool, just like you. The would inspire (enable) anyone and so if you feel nervous, come and join us on the first Saturday of the month and there will be someone who can share their experience. Or if you want me to bring my pots and pans and we could wash your fleece together!

Northern Lights, 5 Mann Street, Brewery Village, Liverpool, L8 5AF

Any questions, ask away!

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Teaching spinning and weaving workshops and Kromski looms, proudly based in Liverpool, UK
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