Though spinning wool into yarn is a laborious process, it can also prove to be a very therapeutic activity, as well. Here are some of the important guidelines for preparing wool for spinning into yarn.
- Clean the fleece. If you’re actually working with newly-shaved fleece, you will be able to see that it’s filled with a lot of dirt, twigs, burrs and thorns. You could use your hand to individually pick out big clumps of dirt and impurities (this process is called skirting). Apart from the obvious impurities, you should also take away the fiber that’s less than an inch long.
- Wash the fleece. Do know that it’s very important that you wash the fleece as soon as you obtain it, otherwise there’s a chance that it will change color or develop stains. Also, raw fleece greatly attracts moth, and so if you don’t want these little critters around your area you should wash fleece as soon as possible.
When washing fleece, do know that you’d have to make sure that you deal with it very gently – in fact, it’s best that you handle it as little as possible (no wringing or even swishing). First, pour in ¼ cup liquid detergent (never use soap! Regular dishwashing detergent will usually suffice) into a big tub and then fill it with hot water. Make sure that the detergent gets evenly mixed in the water. Then, put the wool in the tub and let it soak for about 40 to 45 minutes. Afterwards, remove the wool and drain the tub. Fill the tub with just water, and then soak in the wool again to rinse off the detergent. Finally, take out the wool again, drain the tub, fill it again with water and add in ¼ cup white vinegar. Soak in the wool once again for 40 to 45 minutes. Finally, remove the wool and lay it out on top of towels or racks so that it could dry thoroughly.
- Dry the fleece. Do know that drying the fleece could take 12 hours to as much as several days (depending on your climate). During drying, you should turn the fleece now and then and fluff out the clumps. Do be very gentle still with the wool.
- Card the fleece. Carding the fleece refers to the process of separating and straightening out wool fibers. To do this process, you will need specially-designed hand carders with coarse teeth (two of them). Take a handful of clean and dry fleece and lay it out all across the surface area of one carder, covering its teeth. Then, position the second carder directly over the first carder (the one with the fleece), and gently brush the second carder across the first one. Do this about 5 to 10 times. Your goal here is to make the fleece soft, fluffy and thoroughly separated. Roll the carded fleece into a sausage.
There you have it! These are the steps for preparing wool for spinning into yarn. Once you have cleaned and carded the fleece, your next step is to thread the fleece (about 1.5 feet at a time) into a bobbin and prepare it for spinning using a spinning wheel. Good luck, and hope this helped!