I have seen the light! (As in light and fluffy)
I have seen the light! (As in light and fluffy.) Never the type of person to even want to process my own fiber, I have recently been convinced.
Oh, I'd tried it before—started with a raw fleece, washed, and handcarded (and handcarded) and got small quickly disappearing rolags. To be honest, it just didn't seem worth it when I could buy prepared fiber in every color of the rainbow and even more blended in ways I never would imagine. And it is so easy—half the work is already done. All you have to do is a little sorting, stripping, and maybe some predrafting. However, the more I am around spinning, the more I learn there is always a price for taking the easy way.
Recently, we were filming an upcoming video with Maggie Casey on spinning big and lofty yarns (due out in September). In the video, she shares the best drafting method for making lovely, fluffy handspun yarns that are as close to working with pure squishy top as you can get. She starts by processing some Corriedale X wool that she had dyed. She teased, drumcarded, and made the most amazing batt. It is really like a cloud, so light and fluffy it seemed alive with energy. In my mind, I couldn't help thinking of the lovely (yet smooshed) batts that are often for sale. I had to admit they seemed a little deflated, and that some of the life had left them. Maggie went on to spin her batt along with a variety of commercial preparations all with the same technique, and the hand-prepared fiber continued to outshine the rest. It was so much more bouncy and elastic. Maggie's hand-prepared batt really accentuated all the best qualities of the wool. I couldn't help but start plotting to rent a drumcarder from my local guild.
Coincidently, we recently created a free eBook on just this topic. Since I am relatively new to spinning and definitely a novice at preparing wool, A Guide to Processing Wool to Make Wool Roving: Washing Wool, Carding Wool, and Combing Wool was a huge help to me in understanding the ins and outs, as well as different options available, to getting the fiber I want to spin with. From instructions on how to properly wash wool to how to flick, hand-, and drumcard wool to how to use minicombs, this free eBook should make the process of preparing raw wool for spinning easy and fun for beginners like me, as well as more experienced spinners looking for tips. Just like the difference between handspun and millspun yarn, garden tomatoes and store-bought tomatoes, there is a difference when the processing is done by hand. Download A Guide to Processing Wool to Make Wool Roving: Washing Wool, Carding Wool, and Combing Wool and experience the difference for yourself.