Ways of preparing fleece

Basic preparation of fleece

For most craft work the fleece has to be prepared. Sometimes it is possible to just tease the wool out or to comb the tips with a dog comb. But at other times it may be necessary to use more mechanised techniques.

Tools for preparing fleece

Picker opens the wool out so that the fleece becomes light and fluffy.

Flick carder can be used to open up the tips of the staples

Carding can be done using hand carders, (originally teasels were used). Still on a domestic level there is a domestic drum carder. For industrial carding there are large carding machines. Hand carders produce rolags, whilst larger carders produce batts. These are long lengths of fibres that are semi parallel, wide and flat. They are suitable for felt making or separated out to make tops or slithers. Carding is used for ‘woollen’ spinning.

Combing is an ancient prestigious craft, traditionally performed by men. (children did carding). Combing is the oldest method of preparing wool for spinning. Its origins are lost in the mists of time, but certainly the Romans combed wool. In the 3rd century AD Bishop Blaize was tortured and martyred with wool combs and thus became the patron saint of wool combing.

Combed wool can be slightly twisted to produce a roving. Combed wool is used in worsted spinning by laying the fibres parallel, and then spinning them from the tips into worsted yarn. Longwool is traditionally used for combing.