lurking in the basement
This slow motion approach to life is ideal for processing the wool I've just received. Aside from the burrs (see photo 1 there) it's quite nice. I deal with it pretty simply.
First, I sit down on the basement floor for an hour or two at a time, usually in the late afternoons when I am good for little else. I pull off a clump of locks of wool, with burrs embedded in there. (just like a journalist with the military) I take a pair of sharp scissors, and I chop off the very top of the lock, where the burrs are. I assemble a big pile of greasy locks, ready to be washed. I throw all the burrs away along with wool that is too short or too stinky into a trash can. (Absolutely never consider composting this seedy kind of trash. Burr seeds in your compost could potentially mean big ole burrs in your garden if your compost wasn't hot enough to kill the seeds. Oh no.)
When the pile is big enough, I wash it as one would usually wash wool, but with a bit of deviation to maintain a small amount of lanolin in there. The water in my washing machine (I use it as a set tub) is hot but not really hot. I do one wash and one rinse. The wool that comes out is cleaner, but still a little greasy, which is ideal for wool combing.
You'll see there are still some burr seeds in there, but otherwise, it's now pretty much vegetable matter free. Unlike wool from the east coast, I found the burr species here did not puncture my hands, and there were no tree leaves in this. Another benefit of the prairies and bush land here, I guess!
I used basic tools to make this work. One thing was a pair of sharp scissors. The other thing was a set of well-loved 2 row Indigo Hound Viking Combs. I will note here that I don't comb when I'm too tired as it is dangerous. I also found that raw or really greasy wool and combing can be dangerous too, as the combs get sort of slippery and, well, I don't want one of those spikes through my hands, do you?!
The next stage was to do some combing to see how this was coming out. As you can see here, this wool looks nothing like that first photo up top. White, relatively clean and hand combed top-- with a little grease in it for ease in combing and spinning? It's practically my favorite stuff to spin in the world.
Yesterday I had to sample a bit, just to be absolutely sure it would be a delight to spin. Oh yes, it was! The spindle here is one of Ray's. I spun a very fine yarn for the heck of it. My keys are next to the spindle for perspective's sake.
Then I plied the yarn, using a Navajo 3 ply technique. I plied it directly off the first spindle and onto a Hatchtown Farm Kaari Spindle.