Obtaining and Preparing Fiber
The first steps involve cleaning and preparing fiber. Most of the fiber comes from wool, from sheep like the one in the photo below. I obtain fleeces from fiber shows, and I also reserve fleeces every year from sheep that I know produce good wool. The ones I like to reserve are at Nistock Farms in Northern NY. My two reserved sheep are Pearl, a full-breed Cottswold, and Ash, cross-breed Cottswold / Border Leicester (I don't have pictures of Pearl and Ash, but below is a picture of Duke from the same farm). When sheering time comes, I am guaranteed fleeces from my reserved sheep. I also use other fibers, like angelina, bamboo, and silk.
Fleeces ready to be processed.
Next, I sort all my dyed work start assembling color and texture palettes. This is preparation for making an Art Batt...
Making a Art Batt
Here's a picture of my drum carder; the fiber is placed either in the tray in which the smaller drum will pull the fiber onto the larger drum or the fiber can be placed directly onto the larger drum. Typically finer fibers such as angelina, bamboo, or silk will be placed directly on the larger drum:
This is the fiber gathered in preparation for making the batt; it is helpful to plan a color scheme ahead and have all of your fiber ready next to the carder:
Here is what the fiber looks like once I have it all on the drum carder; it is a lot like painting!
Here is what the batt looks like having just been taken off the carder:
Here is the batt being prepared to be rolled for neatness:
Finally, here is the batt in its final stage, ready for spinning:
My trusty spinning wheel... and my mom's pup Casey. =)
Next I felt the WoolyWire so that the fiber stays put on the wire. Then finally, comes cutting and packaging. Lots of steps from sheep to final product, but so much fun to see the end result. I especially love working with color. I hope you enjoyed this little behind-the-scenes glimpse of WoolyWire!