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 Spinning Techniques
 My 1st fleece - what to do with the tips?
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Nubiwan
Warming Up

80 Posts

Posted - 10/02/2008 :  11:21:10 AM  Show Profile Send Nubiwan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Hi - Doing something else for the first time and I am here looking for answers (again).

I am in the midst of washing my first fleece, I did two "loads" yesterday using the litter pan technique described here: http://independentstitch.typepad.com/the_independent_stitch/2008/07/as-seen-on-tv-f.html

The fleece is " a Romney cross" 4-5 inch locks, damp & sticky-greasy with lots of crimp - sold to me as 3-1/2 pounds but on my scale it's just under 5 pounds (?).

I am using Dawn detergent and getting a very white wool except for disturbing brown tips on most of the locks. I know it happens to the woolies but what do others do with these tips?

I have seen a You-tube video where (Sue MacNiven?) the lady just pulled the tips off while teasing the locks before carding. I wonder if it wouldn't be worthwhile going thru the fleece and just clipping them off with a scissors.

One more thought - the 2nd batch I washed was soaked for a day in cold water. Those tips are much lighter - cleaner I suppose - but they seem just as hard to me as those from the unsoaked batch. Maybe I am not washing enough? My wash water is 138 degrees, and I washed 3 times till there was no apparent dirt in the water. Plus - the wool now smells great! So, I am assuming it is clean.

I would appreciate your thoughts.

MindyO
Permanent Resident

USA
2493 Posts

Posted - 10/02/2008 :  12:02:46 PM  Show Profile Send MindyO a Private Message  Reply with Quote
As far as I understand the tips can get damaged, dried out, gross and unuseable. To me some almost seem as if they look burned, perhaps the sheep version of sunburn? I found this rather interesting and helpful. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8ANSEIcNWw She says she just snips the tips, opens the lock with a flicker brush or dog brush and spins.

That litter pan thing is cool! I was using a giant metal bowl and kitchen strainer.

My Flickr pics
Ravelry: MindyO
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petiteflower
Chatty Knitter

USA
297 Posts

Posted - 10/02/2008 :  1:26:23 PM  Show Profile Send petiteflower a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Yes, dirt can get trapped in the tips, it's like a little sticky cage. You can tease the tips open with your fingers, hopefully not ALL of the tips need to be opened up like this but if they do, they do. Next time look for a fleece that doesn't have this problem so extensively because this condition isn't universally present in all fleeces.

Yes you can pluck the tips off but if your tips are nice and sound you will need to give quite a tug to remove them, and the same energy could be used to tease or comb open the tips. Use a people or dog comb that has the teeth not too closely spaced (the teeth should be round, not flat) and give each problematical tip a swipe or two or whatever it takes, working toward the tip, with the comb to open them just enough so that the dirt can escape whilst in the bath. Avoid combing or teasing further down on the lock, you don't want to open it up more than necessary before it's washed.

The traditional tool used to open dirty tips is the flicker brush, or flick carder. It looks much like a carder but is smaller. You lay a piece of canvas or leather across your lap, lay a lock of wool on your thigh (this is all assuming you are sitting down!) and use the flicker to brush briefly and with verve at the tip a couple of swipes, flip it and do the other side. Again, you are just working on the tips. You may find that combing or brushing open those dirty tips that have already gone through the wash will remove most of the dirt and further washing is unnecessary.

If your tips are weak and easily torn off, or are dramatically matted with dirt where teasing or otherwise opening the tips is overly difficult and time consuming, you can remove the tips. If weak, pluck them off. If not you can trim with scissors. The scissor thing is not the preferred thing mainly because when you cut the fibers you are creating a blunt-cut end that is going to be more prickly than a torn end. And yes of course the sheared end of the fibers is a blunt-cut end, but if you have both ends of the fibers cut, then you double the number of cut prickly ends and this in the professional world of wool is not preferred. It may or may not matter to you. Another consideration is that the grit in dirty wool will wear on your scissors so use a pair that you can sharpen or have sharpened or that you care not about.
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Kade1301
Permanent Resident

France
1438 Posts

Posted - 10/02/2008 :  9:31:23 PM  Show Profile  Visit Kade1301's Homepage Send Kade1301 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Hi petiteflower, I agree with most of what you say, except

quote:
Avoid combing or teasing further down on the lock, you don't want to open it up more than necessary before it's washed.


Why? In my opinion, unless you want to comb the wool (in which case the lock should be as intact), it doesn't matter. I tease most of my wool before washing and find that it washes much more easily.

quote:
The scissor thing is not the preferred thing mainly because when you cut the fibers you are creating a blunt-cut end that is going to be more prickly than a torn end. And yes of course the sheared end of the fibers is a blunt-cut end...


Again, I don't think it matters because unless it's a lamb/hogget fleeces (the animal's first shearing), the tip end is also a "cut end" - it's just been cut the year before.

Happy spinning! Klara

http://www.lahottee.info
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eepster
Seriously Hooked

USA
704 Posts

Posted - 10/03/2008 :  2:42:12 PM  Show Profile  Visit eepster's Homepage Send eepster a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Kade1301

Hi petiteflower, I agree with most of what you say, except

quote:
Avoid combing or teasing further down on the lock, you don't want to open it up more than necessary before it's washed.


Why? In my opinion, unless you want to comb the wool (in which case the lock should be as intact), it doesn't matter. I tease most of my wool before washing and find that it washes much more easily.
Happy spinning! Klara

http://www.lahottee.info


If it's an easily felted breed it would be more vulnerable to felting in its teased state than as intact locks. It's also harder to sort and such if teased.

{o,o}
./)_)
.." "
Jen
http://www.buddhabellyart.com/
http://www.cafepress.com/buddhabellyart
http://www.cafepress.com/4theloveofyarn
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eepster
Seriously Hooked

USA
704 Posts

Posted - 10/03/2008 :  2:49:30 PM  Show Profile  Visit eepster's Homepage Send eepster a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Kade1301


quote:
The scissor thing is not the preferred thing mainly because when you cut the fibers you are creating a blunt-cut end that is going to be more prickly than a torn end. And yes of course the sheared end of the fibers is a blunt-cut end...


Again, I don't think it matters because unless it's a lamb/hogget fleeces (the animal's first shearing), the tip end is also a "cut end" - it's just been cut the year before.

Happy spinning! Klara

http://www.lahottee.info


The cut ends from the year before have a year to get rubbed soft though. Also, One does loose length by cutting.

Not that I'm saying cutting is a no-no. If the ends are really icky then the year of wear that tapered them and that extra 1/4 inch of staple aren't worth going insane over. I just think it's important to understand the trade off before one makes it.

{o,o}
./)_)
.." "
Jen
http://www.buddhabellyart.com/
http://www.cafepress.com/buddhabellyart
http://www.cafepress.com/4theloveofyarn
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Nubiwan
Warming Up

80 Posts

Posted - 10/03/2008 :  3:15:51 PM  Show Profile Send Nubiwan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Thanks folks - I partially answered my own question last night by trying to clip tips from the sticky fleece - doesn't work well at all. I tried pulling them from my still damp washed wool and keep getting the tip with a long thin root of good fiber. I plan to try again when its all dry but I suspect I will be clipping them with a scissors.
I am really liking the white colored wool - so I won't miss the brown spots.

Also washing my first fleece I have learned a couple important things
- my rinsing is not as good as I thought - there are definite signs of suds in the fiber - but, I am so paranoid about felting that if it spins ok I will give it a better rinse after it's in a skein.
- getting a raw fleece ready for spinning is even more work than I thought!
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eepster
Seriously Hooked

USA
704 Posts

Posted - 10/04/2008 :  3:57:56 PM  Show Profile  Visit eepster's Homepage Send eepster a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Nubiwan


- my rinsing is not as good as I thought - there are definite signs of suds in the fiber - but, I am so paranoid about felting that if it spins ok I will give it a better rinse after it's in a skein.


If the detergent is alkaline (almost all are) then it will damage the wool over time. Better give it another rinse now, maybe a quick shot of vinegar too.
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stseraphina
Chatty Knitter

USA
166 Posts

Posted - 10/06/2008 :  2:38:57 PM  Show Profile  Visit stseraphina's Homepage Send stseraphina a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I have sat and snipped all the bad tips off of an otherwise gorgeous white Romney/cross fleece. It was worth it and the final results were PERFECTION. the wool did not card or spin any differently than any other fleece I've processed. I did it before washing (I'd done a test wash and they did not come out, so I knew it was going to be a hassle.) Now I'm a lot pickier about the condition of the tips of a fleece, but in a pinch, if you end up with one with those awful tips, you CAN solve the problem in a relatively painless way.

BTW, a couple of months after that I got an EXPENSIVE fleece from a breeder I trust, and about two pounds of the fleece had bad, brown, stained tips. I complained and she sent me an equal number of clean pounds from another fleece. So, gripe!!!
Kris

What came out of my dyepot this week? Sock yarn? Laceweight? Silk? Come and see my yarn! http://www.flickr.com/photos/28988137@N04/
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