Fleece & Fiber: Picking and Blending

/, Hand-Spinning/Fleece & Fiber: Picking and Blending

Fleece & Fiber: Picking and Blending

it Starts with the Fleece!

This is what 12 pounds of 100% alpaca in medium brown looks like when the picking room is filled to overflowing!

Like me, many of my friends process fiber and fleeces at home with cottage industry equipment, then hand-spin their own yarn. I really enjoy being able to process fleeces in this manner. But I’m also a commercial processor with my own fleeces too. Having commercial processing equipment lends me the opportunity to provide high quality roving, cloud and batts to hand-spinners that would rather spin than process fleeces at home.

One really important difference in the two processes is use of a dedicated picking/blending room for entire fleeces during the commercial processing instead of a small blending board for small amounts of fiber during the “do it at home” process. Small blending boards are fantastic to blend types of fiber or different colors of fiber at home. A dedicated commercial picking room can do this on a very large scale. In a picking room, large amounts of fiber can be prepared for carding and be blended with other types of fiber at the same time. It also prepares the fiber for the various and inclusive stages of processing by opening the length of staples and by throwing bits of vegetation (vm) that may still linger in the fiber after skirting and tumbling.

My picking room is not terribly fancy or glamorous looking on the exterior. It was constructed using simple home-building techniques that involve 2”x 4” lumber, MDF panels inside and outside, plus a non-static linoleum floor and many coats of high-gloss interior paint on the inside. From the outside, it appears to be a fairly large cardboard box sitting in the back corner of my fiber studio.    It’s an awesome adventure to see the picker “work its magic” when picking and blending.  I simply cannot imagine processing fleeces without it.

Even when the fleece has been picked and blended in large amounts and it is scheduled for commercially prepared end products, I can still remove it from the blending room, skip the remaining commercial preparation steps by using the small drum carder to card it, then spin it myself when the mood strikes me to do so.  Life is so good!

Figure 1

Twelve pounds of fiber does not seem like much until you see it sliding down the walls and rolling onto the floor of the blending room. I still think this would be an awesome place for an afternoon nap.

Figure 2

Twelve pounds of fiber does not seem like much until you see it sliding down the walls and rolling onto the floor of the blending room. I still think this would be an awesome place for an afternoon nap.

By | 2017-12-29T20:47:51+00:00 August 18th, 2015|, |Comments Off on Fleece & Fiber: Picking and Blending

About the Author:

Amy enjoyed an active title insurance and real estate career until discovering alpacas in 1997. A passionate animal advocate and experienced fiber artist of more than 40 years, she raises alpacas in order to hand-spin, dye, knit, crochet and socialize with friends with fiber-related passions.