One of the things I like to do, is to play with wool. I have sheep, llama, fiber goats, and angora rabbits that all produce fiber for me to play with. So, I have learned to process the fiber right from the animal to the finished product. I thought you might enjoy a quick overview of how it all works. If you ever want to learn how to process fiber in more detail, you are welcome to come visit me so I can show you how it's done.
First things first, shearing the animal can be a challenge. I enjoy shearing, but it does take some time. most of the time when I shear an animal, I use scissors. Some of the scissors are very large, and some are quite small depending on the type of Kritter I am shearing.
I then have a blanket of fiber to work with. It's best to start by pulling off any pieces that have feces stuck to them. That is trash, but it still has value for your garden. Now it is time to scour (wash) the fiber. There are many methods you can use for this step, but which ever one you choose, make sure you use quality fiber detergent.
The picture above is of some very dirty Alpaca locks. In this picture, the locks have been scoured and dried. Not all fiber is this dirty, but I was pleasantly surprised that I could get almost all of that junk out during the cleaning process. The cleaning process also has several different options. For this Alpaca fiber, I took individual locks, and opened them up to release the bits of VM (vegetable matter). This part of the whole process takes the longest.
This is what the fiber looked like at the end of the cleaning.
Next, I took the locks and opened them up further and carefully sent them through the drum carder. I only put them through the carder two times, and they looked good.
From the drum carder, I was able to remove the fiber with a diz and that created a beautiful roving. Roving can be used for many things. You can use roving to spin, knit, felt, dye, etc.
This Alpaca roving is super soft and a beautiful chocolate brown. I'll have to find a good use for this! I will very likely use this roving and spin it into yarn. Once I have the yarn, then I can weave, knit, or crochet something soft with it.
It is rewarding to start with your own animal, raise it, take the fiber, process the fiber, and make something out of it! Just to top it all off, the quality of the product is usually well worth the effort it took to produce it. Natural fibers have opened up a whole new world for me.