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Archive for May 17th, 2011

As I mention in my bio, in my spare time I play with fiber. I wish I had more spare time.

Two years ago I invested in several fleeces. Raw fleeces. Wool fleeces straight from the sheep. Mohair right off a goat. I rented a drum carder from my local guild, but I never could figure out how to use it. Turns out it was old, had been misused, and was in dire need of repair. It was sent off to be fixed.

So, my fleeces – one Border Leicester (pronounced “border lester”), one mohair, one Merino, one bison (a story for another day) and some collie – were lovingly washed and then packed into spotlessly clean five-gallon honey buckets with tight-sealing lids. And there they sat until today.

Today I rented a fiber picker from the local guild. It’s my second bout with medieval-looking tools this week.

It’s a Patrick Green fiber picker – judging from YouTube videos I’ve seen, I don’t think it’s the Triple Picker. More likely it’s the Bare Wood Picker, one with fewer points.

A fiber picker has a wooden base that’s loaded with tall, scary spikes. Not like nail spikes, but shiny, wickedly angled, dangerous spikes. The Triple Picker boasts 600 of these spikes, the Bare Wood Picker a mere 194. The inside of the base is coated with these spikes, as is the rounded cradle which rocks back and forth, toward and then away from the fiber artist (the literature advises she wear a leather apron). While it looks like some sort of medieval torture device, the picker’s results are sheer heaven.

In less than an hour I ran  two pounds of washed Border Leicester through the picker. It flew off the cradle in a cloud of airy fiber that was then dumped into a huge trash bag. I ran the Border Leicester through again – this time blending it with the washed mohair – and in what seemed like minutes, the trash bag was full of gray cloud. I gasp every time I feel the stuff.

Next, meaning the next minute I have some spare time, I will run that fluff through the Strauch Finest drum carder that I recently bought. I’ve already made a few batts – in a matter of minutes – with the clouds of Border Leicster/mohair that I’ve picked. It cards like a dream. Then all that’s left is the spinning.

In my spare time … .

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