Five Tips for Prepping Your Own Fiber
When I bought my first wheel in 1996, it felt as though the spinning world had become my oyster: now any yarn was possible. Like many new spinners, I wanted total control over the materials. So although I bought lots of commercial fiber, eventually raw fiber called to me, singing a siren's call of "prep me!" However, I didn't know what I was doing. My first dyeing attempt produced a giant felted rope–sure, it was now a pretty color, but I couldn't do anything with it. My first hand cards produced little but frustration and a sore back (yes, I was doing it wrong); I ended up processing my first raw fleece with a dog comb. A Christmas gift of combs sat unused for years. I couldn't afford a drum carder until 2011. Only then did I start seeking out Internet resources for drumcarding and combing.
My learning curve would have been much faster with Interweave's new digital bundle on fiber prep. The three eBooks (Essentials of Drumcarding, Essentials of Handcarding, and Combing: A Spinner's Guide) alone would have helped me match the best techniques to different fibers in my stash. Video downloads for carding and combing would have shown me good techniques from the get-go.
I did eventually learn to process fiber and now love to spend hours with my combs or drumcarder (though not the hand cards, thank you very much). If I could now provide advice to my newbie spinner self, I would tell her:
Fiber prep missteps happen to everybody, and they're not the end of the world–in fact, they can teach us a lot. But there's a lot to be said from sitting at the feet of the masters.