The Energy in Fleece and Fiber

I read an article about preparing fiber for spinning low-twist singles in which the author described commercially-produced top/roving as being “lifeless.”  Her description articulated what has motivated me to learn how to clean and process raw fiber for my own spinning and felting.  Perhaps it’s the freshness of the raw fiber that gives it more bounce and vitality, or the fact that I can process it more precisely to whatever use I’ve planned.  Lovingly-processed fiber glows as if it has microscopic twinkly lights embedded inside; it has little kicks and angles that seem to express the spirit of the creature that grew the fiber; it has personality that inspires creative work.  All of these factors, and more, are reasons for fiber artists to master the art — and to experience the enchantment — of working from raw fleece.

The image below shows a handful of raw Cormo fleece on the left, and on the right, some washed and carded fiber from that same fleece.  The yellow and brown colors are from lanolin and dirt.  I knew when I bought the fleece that the fiber was good quality, worth the effort of preparation: it’s important to research before you buy!


The second image shows some rolags I carded and then pulled off my drum carder yesterday; these are some of the first rolags that contain various fibers I’ve washed and carded, including Cormo and some Gotland lamb.  I’ve paired the rolags with various hand-dyed curly locks and some sari silk ribbon purchased from fiber artists who’ve mastered dyeing.    I am eager to learn how to dye fiber — to get just the colors needed in just the right amounts; and intend to learn how to use environmentally-friendly dyes as well as continue to explore eco-dyeing and eco-printing.


The third images shows raw fleece soaking in my studio sink.  The first soak in tepid water removes some dirt and dust, and begins to loosen any other unwanted elements from the fleece.  It’s a gentle way to begin the scouring process.  I place the fleece on a plastic tray that has openings on all sides and the bottom; sometimes I first place the fleece inside a mesh laundry bag, if I want to retain the texture of the structure of the locks.  To avoid felting the fiber and to retain the individual character of the fleece, the whole process is done with TLC.



Published in: on April 30, 2018 at 2:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

“Madras” Fiber Batt


Published in: on April 25, 2018 at 9:34 pm  Leave a Comment