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 !
you get a chance go to a fiber festival and you may be able to watch a
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
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
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
d) Carding. A carder is used on small pieces of the fleece to comb the
back into the same direction.We can blend other fibers and we
add other materials (eg glitz ribbons) to make different textures and
colors. We sometimes do this using hand carders but
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
(c) 2012 FiberPlayhouse
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