Wednesday, 30 July 2014

A Fleece a Day – Amanda Hannaford

Part of the reason for basing the course on natural fleece processing and spinning is to make amends for the many years of encouraging spinners to use my dyed tops.

When I started spinning, processed fibre wasn’t readily available, so out of necessity I had a good grounding in fleece sorting, washing and preparation. Even now, with the huge choice of ready-prepared fibre that is available, I still go back to basics and enjoy processing my own fibres from scratch.

I feel that today’s spinners should be encouraged to learn all about the different characteristics of raw fleece, how to sort and wash it, and learn all the different methods of fibre preparation, so as to be able to match preparation method to fleece type and get exactly the yarn they want.

Throughout the week we will be working with five or six distinctly different fleece types. We will comb or flick the locks on longer wools for smooth sleek worsted yarns. Very short fibres will be hand-carded and woollen-spun for bouncy soft and lofty yarns. There will be double-coated fleece that needs separating to get at the best fibre. In short you will learn all the fibre preparation methods to enable you to get the best from any fleece. We will also aim to spin a wide range of yarns, from thick sturdy yarns for outer garments, to super fine yarns for delicate lace. We will blend fleece with other fibres, and use the special qualities of some of the fleece types to create a few of the more straightforward fancy yarns.

I see the course as being suited to the newer spinner who would like to learn all the different fibre preparation methods and spinning styles, as well as more experienced spinners who perhaps have been seduced by all those ready-prepared tops and would like to be re-introduced to fibres straight from the sheep!

Requirements for the course are a spinning wheel with at least four bobbins. We will also be using hand-carders, drum-carders, flick-carders, pet brushes, hand-held combs and table-mounted combs throughout the week. None of these are an absolute necessity as there will be a few of each to borrow, but if you do already own any of these tools, please bring them along.