It’s time to see what happens when we combine tools! For this tutorial I have a fiber kit that contains the following fleeces: cormo, rambouillet, alpaca, FDT (finn/dorset/targhee x), and kid mohair. I’ve also included a variety of add ins…silk, firestar, and nylon. This type of fiber prep will produce a fluffy mass of fiber great for woolen spinning and more textured thick and thin arty yarns.
I start by running my fleece through the mini-picker in small handfuls to open up the locks and remove some of the VM if any is present. To catch the fiber I place a plastic tub or laundry basket just below the end of the picker where the picked fiber comes out. As you can see, the mini picker has a very small foot print and is only taking up half of my fold out sewing cabinet.
Once the fleece has been picked to suit me I break up my add ins and mix them by hand in with the picked fleece. Once this is done I feed handfuls of the fiber mix through the picker to blend the fibers more. You can run this fiber mix through the picker a few times to blend the fibers and colors more but I chose to have as much color definition remain as possible so I only ran my fiber mix through once.
After my fiber has been picked I take it in handfuls and wipe it onto the blending board and burnishing until my board is full. I then begin to create my rolags by lifting the end of the fiber off the board, placing one dowel rod behind the fiber and one in front rolling the dowel in back over the one in front. From there I draft and roll until I’ve rolled all the fiber off the board into rolags.
The finished rolags and yarn spun from them:)
So, we’ve been over making rolags in videos, now it’s time to look at making mini batts and blending fibers on the blending board.
To demonstrate batt making and blending at the same time I’m using superwash merino mill combed top and various add ins (silk, bamboo, firestar, nylon, etc)
I first lay down a layer of my top on the board and then lay down my add ins with my second layer of top going down last. For this tutorial I sandwiched the add ins between the two layers of top to keep them somewhat “locked” in the fiber. Normally, for mini batts, I would lay down some add ins first so they show on the outside of the batt and then more on other layers as I built the batt.
To remove the mini batt from the blending board start from the bottom (always start from the bottom) and either peel your batt carefully off of the board or roll it off of the board using two dowel rods but without drafting while you roll as you would with a rolag. The mini batt will “poof” a bit once off the board. After removing the batt, I tore it into strips lengthwise as you would for spinning. I then tore each of these strips in half mostly so I wouldn’t have the “tails” catching on the carding cloth of the board while I worked. With the 2 halves of a strip in one hand I reload the fiber onto the board. Once a I have a layer down I burnish and repeat until I have about half of the original batts worth of fiber on the board. I find not packing the board full when blending works better. Please note: when blending this way your fibers will not stay in their nice neat vertical alignment unless you are very meticulous. I’m not so my fiber will be a true woolen blend.
I repeated the above process 3 times and as you can see the fiber is pretty blended though not to the point of being all one color. The more you “peel off and reload” the fiber the more blended it will get. It does take considerably more time to blend fibers this way than with a drum carder but the upside is you can do it while watching TV;) After the final loading of the board I laid it down on my table to remove the batt…again, this can be done be peeling it off the board from the bottom and working your way up OR rolling it off without drafting.
So, how many people noticed that this isn’t Ron’s original blending board used in the tutorial?? Yep, he’s come out with a larger table top model whose cloth is 18” long!!! I found I can still use it in my lap but I need more “elbow room” due to it’s extra length. I am able to put more fiber on this board and I seem to be averaging about 1.6 oz per board though fully loaded and packed I can get 2 oz on it at a time.
NECESSARY WARNING: The tines are blunted on the ends but still sharp and will cause injury unless all due caution and care are employed in their use and storage. Please do not use these in close proximity to others or pets. Do not allow others unfamiliar with combing to use these without direct and constant supervision. Do not allow children of any age, convicted felons, former presidents of the U.S. or other questionable individuals to use or have access to these. Please store them immediately after use to prevent inadvertent injury to yourself or others.