As everybody in the country knows, it is just plain hot out there. And here in the east, it is also way past muggy. I can't sit still for long, so I have been alternating reading with... yep, you guessed it. Combing out the rest of that massive Corriedale fleece. Something I can do without working up a lather.
I got out the bag, and started pulling out chunks of fleece. And discovered something. When I'd started preparing the fleece to wash (on that first miserably hot day), I first skirted the fleece, and set the pieces aside in a corner. My intent was to use them as mulch in the garden.
Then I divided the rest of the fleece into batches to wash in my 4 bucket wash and rinse setup. By the time I got through everything, I was wet, hot, and tired. And without realizing it, I'd washed the skirted pieces and hung them up with the rest to dry.
I found out when I pulled out a clump of fleece that was not combable and certainly not spinnable.
Duh. I knew there was more, so I sorted through and removed them. They are now mulch.
I've gotten to the good parts now, so it's easier to figure out where the locks are and pull them to load the combs. It's lovely stuff. I do have to trim many of the cut ends-- the part next to the sheep's skin.
Corriedale felts easily, and with the moisture and movement next to the skin, it sometimes folds over on itself as it grows and mats a bit. This has good length, so not a loss and takes only a few seconds as I load the combs.
Corriedale also has a lot of loft, as the photos show. The loft is good for making something meant to keep one warm, but can also make taming the wool to spin a bit challenging. It poofs when it is washed, and so sometimes the locks are almost unrecognizable!
That comb looks way overloaded, but isn't. A comb should be loaded so that only 1/3 of the length of the tines are covered, which is about what is on the comb. It's just that it then puffs out into a huge ball, made worse by the fact that the fibres are going every which way. Combing will align them, remove what I call "clots" and debris and tangles.
Here it is after just two passes. The fibres have been aligned, and the mass is much more cohesive (though still characteristically lofty).
It will need at least four more combings, because I know that lurking in that mass are still a lot of small lumpy things and some tangled fibres and even a little vegetative matter (VM for short).
Combing is done, and I have pulled the fleece off the comb. Most of the time, fleece is pulled off as roving, sometimes using a diz, but I have found that with a bulky fleece like Corriedale, I can get a better preparation by pulling it off hand over hand, which results in a small batt about 6 inches by nine inches.
Starting with the end that came off the comb last, I encircle the batt firmly with the fingers of one hand, and with the other gently attenuate the batt, carefully sliding the fibres past eash other. This results in an even, open rope about four feet long.
Then I return to the end I started with, and attenuate into roving. This time I give it a little twist and wrap it around my hand as I go. The end is tucked in the middle with a pouf sticking out to pull out when I use it to spin. The result is a neat little "nest", all ready for spinning.