I thought it would be fun to follow the journey of Charlie's fiber as it goes from wool to finished item. I had plucked an ounce of rather dirty fiber from Charlie's neck (pictured above).The fiber was very carefully washed by soaking it in a hot, soapy bath (with a touch of vinegar) and two rinses.
Once the water ran clear I gently squeezed the excess water out then laid it outside on my patio table to dry in the sun. The picture below shows what the fiber looks like after it has been washed and dried. Notice it is considerably lighter in color. No more dirt. :)
The clean fiber was then combed using my fine hand combs (upper right hand corner of the photo above). When I have fiber that has quite a bit of vegetation in it (hay and such) I prefer using my hand combs. I find they clean the fiber better than if I was to use hand cards or my drum carder. They just open up the fiber a bit more allowing the bits of vegetation to fall out. You end up with fluffy fiber that can be spun as is....better known as combed top. The fiber in combed top is pretty much all the same length and the individual fibers are parallel to each other. Kinda like when you comb your hair and it is laying nicely with no stray strands criss-crossing another.
This fiber is not quite ready to spin yet. It's so soft and silky feeling that I'm going to blend a bit of white Suri alpaca and a touch of gold Angelina ( for a bit of sparkle). The Suri will enhance the softness of Charlie's wool while adding halo (fuzziness) to the finished yarn.
I will blend the fibers together using my drum carder. This will create a batt. A batt is different from top for a couple of reasons. First, the fiber lengths will vary within a batt....whereas with top the fiber is all the same length. Second, the strands of fiber in a batt aren't parallel or in alignment with each other. They are doing their own thing only in an orderly fashion. Kinda like when you flip your hair or shake your head. Your hair still looks neat afterwards but the individual strands are doing their own thing. It's more relaxed. Third, a batt is much fluffier than top. More air is trapped between the individual strands of fiber giving it more loft. You can end up with a softer fuzzy yarn when spinning from a batt depending on the spinning technique used. I prefer the long draw method which means I will end up with a softer fuzzier yarn. I'm allowing the twist up into my drafting zone unaided and this allows more air to be trapped between the individual fibers (spinning woolen). If the twist was following my fingers up towards the drafting zone then the resulting yarn would be denser and smoother. This is because my fingers are squishing out the air from between the individual fibers and smoothing any stray ends down (spinning worsted). Or rather a semi-worsted yarn since a true worsted yarn is spun from combed top. For this particular blend I decided to take the fiber off the drum carder in rolags and spin from those. I also opted to spin on my rosewood Tabachek Russian spindle. I know that I would like to knit something lacy with the finished yarn. I'm able to spin a finer more consistent yarn with my support spindles than on a wheel. (I'm still spinning a woolen yarn even though I'm spinning from rolags. Rolags are pieces of the batt rolled up.)
While I'm still planning on ending this fiber journey with a finished item, I will end this post with the prepared fiber being spun. Over the next few months time will be spent preparing more fiber ( only 3/4 of an ounce was done....seeing if I liked the blend....which I do) and spinning it ( in between other things). Once the fiber is spun and the yarn finished then I will spend time designing something just for this. With any luck by shearing of next year I will have a finished item to share. Or at least something in progress. :)