How to prepare fleece the “woolen” way

Before you can spin the wool, the fleece needs to be well prepared for that. And this you can do in two ways – woolen or worsted. Fleece prepared the worsted way (top) will have fibers parallel to direction of spinning. Yarn spun from such a top will be strong, with tightly twisted fibers and with minimum amount of trapped air. “Woolen” is a completely different story – here the fibers are arranged perpendicular to the direction of spinning, making the yarn to have more chaotic fibre arrangement. It is also more stretchy and fluffy.

To travel the entire route – from fleece to finished fluffy and airy rolags you just need the fleece and a pair of wool carders :). Some time ago I got a package with Norwegian lamb fleece. Recently, when organising my resources I rediscovered this bag, patiently waiting for its “big time.” Therefore it came 😉

I will try to clearly guide you through the whole process of making these beautiful fluffy rolags. At the very beginning I just need to explain the way I hold a carder – normally I hold the left carded with my thumb up, as in 2 consecutive shots. The arrangement, which I unconsciously present on following pics is a result of a photo-fright I suppose 😉 Unfortunately, I became aware of this when I was looking at the pictures on the computer, yet I decided not to repeat the photos as holding them is a matter of individual preferences 🙂

Going back to the centerpiece – after the initial loosening a handful of locks (picture on the top of this entry) I put it on the left carder (I’m right handed) “against the grain”. I noticed that in my case the optimum amount is about 5 grams of wool (incomplete handful). I try not to overload the carder so that the ongoing process is smooth and not too hard.

Prepared in this manner wool I begin to card with the second carder. Not too hard at the beginning, to avoid transfering unbrushed  fleece from one carder to another and not to hook the needles so much that they are hard to separate. After some time, it will be increasingly difficult to get the fibers that are stuck deeply between the teeth. I help myself imposing combs at each other and with a short motion (to myself and up) I pull the fibres up with right carder and continue the task 🙂

When most of the fibers have already been moved to the right side, I transfer the not combed residue to the other carder in one move – I place left carder against the right one’s lowest part and move it upwards transfering the fibres. The teeth of carder I hold in my right hand are pointing downwards and gather everything that moves “against the grain”. Now the unprocessed wool is on the top of a carder and in the next “round” you will card the wool starting from this unbrushed piece of wool.

At this point, I switch hands and put the “loaded” carder in my left hand and start the process again. I Continue to brush and select unwanted items (vegetable matter) to the point where I decide that yes, this is what I can spin 😉 And this matter is very personal – your aim wool can be perfectly smooth or may have more rustic character, with imperfections and having all marks of manual processing.

In my case, I tried to remove as much as possible – burnt fleece tips, hay and shortly cut pieces clumped into balls.

When the wool resembles a cloud it’s time to take it off the carder and form a rolag. From what I saw there are as many ways of forming them as spinners. You can remove whole wool at once and roll a rolag with hands or the backside of carders, or you can push the wool off a carder using the other one. Or you can form them as I do – using a blending brush with longer and denser teeth. I bought it for different purpose but it turned out to be a great tool to “cleanse” the needles out of wool and roll the rolags (or pull out vm during the combing). With my left hand I hold the wool and slowly roll it off the teeth forming a roll, which next I roll with my hands in the same direction in which it was drew from the teeth.


Wool prepared in this manner is fluffy, airy and ready for spinning. Before you spin it you can gently stretch it along to make the work easier and voila! We have delicious rolags and we’ve also elevated our degree of initiation by one level closer to Paladin;) I assume, of course, that Paladins already have their own sheep, and sheer them themselves 😉 Maybe someday! 😀


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