Friday, October 24, 2008

Life of Yarn - Carding

The Life of Yarn series is my attempt to share the process from fiber (on the animal) to finished yarn. Each is just a glimpse into a moment in the life of yarn and yarnmaker.

Most everyone knows that fabric comes from yarn or thread which comes from cotton, sheep or synthetics. But how does it really GET there? From farm to cloth? In the next few week’s I’ll be working through and documenting this process. Today: The Blending.

The one question I seem to get most often when doing spinning demonstrations is "How do you get the wool like...that" with a gesture to the roving I'm holding in my hand. Most everyone understands that the wool comes from sheep and the fleece gets washed and dyed...but what takes it from a pile of fiber to the fluffy batt in my hands?

The fiber can be combed or carded to make it more spin-able and I chose to card this fleece with my brand new drum carder! (still so excited about it!) You can absolutely spin fiber right from the lock, but I wanted to card it, to make it fluffy and separate the locks. I want to keep some of the inherent "sheepiness" of this yarn, so I'm not carding it until smooth, just until nice and airy, with some of the little curls still intact. What I end up with is a batt (you can read the defintion of fiber terms like roving and batts here) - a pile of fluff with a lot of air and most of the fibers parellel-ish.

Since it's a simple process that's sort of hard to explain, I'll show you how I do it in the following video.

If you're unfamiliar with this step in fiber processing, the video gives a quick rundown of the general idea. If you're very experienced with drum carding, I'd love to hear your feedback, as I'm brand new at it!

The batts I'm carding will be available in the Boutique this Friday, October 31, along with the dyed locks (pre-carding). Next Monday I'll share a video on how I spin these batts and the yarn from this fleece will be available Monday, November 3. The locks, batts and yarn are part of my new LocalSpun line - a collection of yarn and fiber that all come from the same, local fleece. I hope to produce this line each month using a different local fleece, which I'll wash and dye by hand, share the process and offer the fiber and yarn. Each month I hope to use a different breed of sheep (or alpaca or goat) and share what I discover about the farm, the breed and the process.

Any questions about drum carding?
What else in the process would you like to see?
What breed should I look for next?
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