The DIY Quick Guide
Wool to Yarn
This page is to help guide you through the process of turning your own raw fibre, straight off the sheep's back into yarn. I will try to keep it brief and to the point, and it might seem daunting at first, but take it 1 step at a time, it is rather straight forward.
3 SIMPLE STEPS
1. Select & Preparing Your Fibre
2. Scour & Carding Your Fibre
3. Spinning Your Fibre
STEP 1 - SELECTING & PREPARING YOUR FIBRE
Starting with a good fleece makes for a better end result. This is possibly one of the most important things to keep in mind.
The best place to start is while the fleece is still on the sheep's back. If you are not fortunate enough to own a shearing shed, most lifestyle block shearers will just shear your sheep in the paddock. During the process your fleece will end up with grass and muck in your wool, creating more work for you. To avoid this lay down a sheet of plyboard for your shearer to work on. As the fleece comes off the sheep quickly roll the individual fleece up while the shearer is getting another sheep, and put this aside in a wool sack/trailer/wheel barrow, so the wool is off the ground.
Once shearing is over, you need to skirt your fleeces. A big table at waist high helps with this, but I just use the deck of my trailer. Unroll 1 fleece onto a flat surface then go around and remove all the nasties. This includes poo, grass, hay, seeds, stains, yellow bits, mud. I personally do a "heavy/hard" skirt. Put all the nasties aside to use in your garden as its a great compost. Once you have finished skirting roll it back up and I suggest storing in a wool sack. Move onto your next fleece, otherwise store your fleeces in a dry place until you are ready to move onto step 2 below. If storing for a while, be careful to ensure your wool sack is securely closed to avoid rodents nesting in your wool.
STEP 2: SCOURING AND CARDING YOUR FIBRE
If you have a lot of wool to scour and card you might want to send it to a mill. Below are four wool processors you can try:
Kane Carding - Dannevirke
Tallyho Woolcarding - Roxburgh
Greenacres Fibre Processing - Christchurch
Jumbuck - Auckland
Otherwise it is simple to scour your own raw fibre with our cleaning products. Follow this link to our shop for Unicorn Power Scour.
Simply put, with Unicorn Power Scour is just 2x 20 minute soaks in water at 60 degrees. With every purchase of Unicorn Power Scour you will receive full detailed instructions. Here is how to do it, click through to the video link or read on below:
Mix 15ml Unicorn Power Scour into 7.5 litre's of hot water at 60 degrees. You can use a sink/laundry tub/bucket/bath and Unicorn Power Scour is septic safe so the dirty water can go down the drain. When mixing the solution don't create bubbles. Gently submerge 0.45kg of your fibre into your vessel. Let your fibre soak for 20 minutes. Don't agitate the fibre as this will felt it, and don't let the water temperature to drop otherwise the grease/lanolin will just reattach to the fibre. I have an old thermometer handy to monitor this. After 20 minutes, drain out the water, and repeat. On your second soak, repeat but just use 7.5ml of Unicorn Power Scour. Then rinse your fibre with hot water until the water runs clear. You need to press out the water, and then let dry on a rack. For my drying rack, I just have a wooden frame with garden netting stapled to it. As I wash 2kg at a time, I like to divide up my wet fleece into laundry bags and put into the washing machine on the spin cycle to speed up this process. Test this first with your fibre as you don't want to felt your fibre. I mainly scour Arapawa fleece which has a short staple.
Tip: Use Unicorn Fibre Rinse to put back in some softness after scouring. If you plan to dye, only do this after you have dyed your fibre.
Once your fibre is dry you can now card your fleece. Carding is the step of aligning your fibre strands ready to spin. There are two ways to do this.
Hand Carding Paddles
I personally prefer the drum carder as I find this quicker, but it comes down to a personal preference and budget. Drum carders are expensive, even second hand. If you are looking for new products look at Ashfords NZ, they have a great range of products. Ashfords also have a great video tutorial. Follow this link on How To Card.
Your carded fibre should be as soft as cotton floss, and then you are ready to spin.
STEP 3 - SPINNING YOUR FIBRE
This is much more difficult to explain, but very simple to show and demonstrate. Follow the below link for Ashfords video tutorial on How To Spin.
Once you have completed your first spool of yarn, you want to complete a second and then ply the two spools of yarn together so you end up with a 2 ply yarn. This adds extra strength and a balanced yarn. Again follow the below link for Ashfords video tutorial on How To Ply.
Once you have finished plying, you need to set the twist into your yarn. Using a niddy noddy, wined the yarn off the spool. Tie the yarn in 4 sections around the skein. This helps avoid your yarn getting tangled. Fill a bowl with warm water and add 2 drops of Fibre Rinse, mixing together. Place the yarn gently into the bowl and let soak for 5 minutes. Gently remove the yarn and hang in the shower or outside. Once dry, wined into a ball and you are done!
I suggest anyone with a love of everything to do with fibre, join your nearest Creative Fibre group. You will find them throughout the country and they have event's, classes, market days and get togethers or "spin-ins". It's a great way to meet other creators and to see what people are creating. Also there is always plenty of tips and advice being shared.
Also Creative Fibre produces a fantastic magazine that is included with your membership. They produce 4 magazines a year. I can't highly recommend this enough, an incredibly inspirational local publication.
I hope the above has been of some help to get you started. Do reach out if you have any questions.