Milling in the Fibrehood

Recently I visited Happy Chick Farm on Highland Road in Gibsons.  Johanna had sheared the sheep the previous week and the fleeces were hanging on the fence. I came home with three bags full of the fleeces which Heidi and Lee generously donated to the Fibreshed.  They were delighted that the wool from their sheep would be used in our Sunshine Coast Spinners and Weavers Guild’s Blanket Project for the ANWG (Association of Northwest Weavers Guilds) Conference in 2017.

Here is LaBraun, the ram, after shearing.

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Stella is cozying up in LaBraun’s fleece which had fallen off the fence and was no longer intact.  The two ewe fleeces, intact and unskirted, are in the background.

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Merrily and I washed most of the fleece in an outdoor bathtub in her backyard and dried it on racks.

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Here are the buckets filled with the wash water ready for the garden.

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Next we gathered at Dorothy’s with the Patrick Green picker and the electric carder. Here we’re getting ready to use the picker. You need to protect your chest and hands by wearing a leather bib apron and leather gloves.

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Merrily has the picker in motion, fluffy fleece flying everywhere.

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After opening the locks and flicking out dirt, the fleece is fluffy and ready to card.

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The electric carder flicked out more seeds, straw and bits from the picked fleece. We put the fibre through twice and produced a 3-4 ounce batt ready to spin.

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Here is the debris from the picker which was less than the amount the electric carder was spitting out. The advantage of using the picker before carding is that the carder flicked out the bits from the opened fleece.

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The benefit of the picker can also be seen in an experiment where I washed some dirty fleece that hadn’t been through the picker and some that had.  The water of the unpicked fleece (right in the photo) was much darker, dirtier and needed a 3rd rinse.

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Dorothy gave the Guild Lendrum a spin with the carded fleece.

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The day rolled into a fantastic mill worker experience. We’re going to unionize!  Next the spinning, dyeing and weaving for the ANWG Blanket Project. Oh yeah!

Lynda Daniells

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