While I accept pre-washed fleeces, they have to be REALLY clean. This is not just an aesthetic thing – grease left in the fleece causes problems all down the line. First of all, the grease holds dirt – so a greasy fleece can never be really clean. Secondly, that grease and dirt come off on all the equipment it contacts.
Here you see one of the rollers on the roving deck as it comes off the carder. As you see, the wool looks nice and white – but the roller is showing a build-up of grease and dirt. If this gets sticky enough, the fibre will start to cling to the rollers and start to wrap around them, causing no end of problems, including time lost in untangling the mess as well as fibre wastage.
Also, when the fibre is sticky with grease, it tends to tangle on the carder, causing nibs in the web.
Here you see the web coming off the carder, with little snarls in it.
This is the same fibre, after a re-wash to remove residual grease.
And this is the roller – as you see, no grease build-up to cause problems.
Even if you don’t mind nibs in your spinning fibre – I’ve had customers who like it because it adds texture to the yarn without any extra effort – I can’t spin it on my machinery because the problems don’t stop with the carder. To go to the spinning machine the rovings have to go through the pin-drafter – and it doesn’t like greasy fibre either.
Here you see the grease build-up on the output from the pin-drafter.
Greasy fibre is picked up by the combs…
and will start wrapping it around the pin-bars. If not caught in time – and it can happen very quickly – you soon have your fibre wrapped completely around the pin-bars and nothing is going anywhere. Then all the pin-bars have to be cleaned – there are more than 60 of them, top and bottom – and that’s a real nuisance, particularly since they have very sharp teeth.
So if you want to wash your own wool, please be sure that it is entirely grease free before you send it to me for carding. If you want to try spinning wool in the grease, please feel free, but please don’t ask me to card it for you!