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Fleeces in the fiberplayhouse provide many hours of fun transforming them from unruly smelly bags of animal sheddings into beautifully textured and colored batts. There are so many opportunitites to experiment while the transformation takes place !

If you get a chance go to a fiber festival and you may be able to watch a demonstration of sheep being shorn. There are many types of sheep (click here to see some as well as other animals that give us their winter clothes). Notice how the the fleece from all over the body is removed and included in the final rolled-up fleece. Parts of the fleece may be dirty, parts may be matted, the shearer may have made multiple passes in some areas, shortening the staple. Many factors affect the quality of the fleece, its desireability and its price.

Some of you may not know the processing steps to transform the as-cut fleece into the raw fiber we need in order to play :

a) Skirting. A high quality fleece may not need to be cleaned or have any debri first picked from it ("skirting"). Most require at least some foreign matter picked up during shearing to be removed. Typically it takes an hour for an experienced person to skirt a dirty fleece on a coup[le of  large tables.

b) Cleaning. Cleaning the fleece must be done delicately with detergent and hot water to break down the dirt and grease without causing it to felt. Multiple passes in hot water baths is often required. The wet fleece may then take several days to dry.

c) Picking. Any matted locks may need to be separated, we do this with a manually operated triple picker. It gently pulls the locks of  fibers apart as they pass through it.

d) Carding. A carder is used on small pieces of the fleece to comb the separated fibers back into the same direction.We can blend other fibers and we can add other materials (eg glitz ribbons) to make different textures and colors. We sometimes do this using hand carders but we also have an electric drum carder. Unloading the drum carder gives us pieces of fiber approximately 10" by 20" long called batts.

Alot of the creativity in fiber production is in the details of how the above steps are done and what else you do during each step ; as you will see in the descriptions of the batts produced. Additional materials can be mixed, cleaning can be done at different steps. Steps can be repeated.

Below are some examples of batts we have produced from raw fleeces :

We have done custom processing for all sorts of fibers, pls call or email if you have any questions.

Check back here periodically as we add  new fiber from time to time.

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