Hand spinning and weaving is about as labour intensive as it gets.
So this is the ‘Project’: to take raw fleece, process and spin the fibre. Weave that fibre into a length of cloth. And finally to make a wearable garment from that cloth. There was a similar project a year or two ago, to weave a scarf out of hand spun and naturally dyed fleece. But this is on an altogether more ambitious scale. To weave a wider and much longer length of cloth, enough to make a proper item of clothing, requiring several metres of finished fabric.
This is full on Peasant spinning and weaving.
Stage One: The Fleece
A Zwartbles fleece, bought for £10 from Rampisham Hill Farm. A lovely freshly shorn fleece. Half was used for another project, making the monetary outlay a mere £5. Zwartbles fleece is very dark brown, to the point of being almost black, so there’s no dyeing needed for this project. Although spinning fine yarn from very dark fibre requires good lighting!.
It was sorted, any scraggy and mucky parts discarded (onto the compost heap) and the worst of the twigs, straw etc removed. However it was still chock full of seeds and bits of vegetable matter (VM).
Whilst spinning ‘in the grease’ is great for chunky yarn, it’s too sticky for fine spinning. So the fleece got a good wash to remove the grease, in 500g batches. Dried in the sun, with a bit more VM removal along the way.
Carding and Spinning
Next came carding.in preparation for spinning. Trying once again to remove VM. A basket of rolags at a time, enough for a couple of bobbins-worth of spinning which were then plied together for strength and stability..
The aim was achieve a degree of consistency and spin a 2 ply yarn approximately equivalent in weight to a standard 4 ply yarn (400m per 100g), Spinning fine yarn takes an age!
But eventually, (after several weeks and a great many hours) is was all spun up. 12 skeins of it. Whilst not quite getting to 400m per 100g, the average is around 350m which should be workable.
That’s 3877m of hand spun yarn ready for the next stage – Weaving