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What are your recommendations for oiling the fleece before carding?

Do you have any recommendations for oiling the fleece before carding? I used to do a fair amount of spinning, but have not for 30 years. I recently acquired a couple of fleeces from some meat sheep ( I think Columbia). They were dirty enough that they required washing before carding/spinning. I washed and teased the fleece to get out the VM, and could now card. I dyed some of this fleece in the wool. I recall from prior days that I used to spritz cleaned fleece with an oil/water emulsion prior to carding, but in surfing around various shops for handspinners, I haven't found any mention of this. Have the procedures for handling dirty fleece changed?


I think your sense that the information is not out there, reflects the fact that many, many spinners use prepared roving more than their own fleece. The prepared rovings are drier and consequently spinners have become used to spinning drier fibers. It is difficult to say whether it is better or worst for spinning, I just think it is a current trend. When I started spinning in '81, spinning in the grease was the norm. If you washed your fleece then you reapplied oil to get that slippery feeling. Today I use a smaller amount of an oil spray more to control static rather than replace that slippery feeling.

If you would like to use a oil and water spray, I always recommend a 4 parts water to 1 part oil. The type of oil should be something that will wash out easily. Perhaps you would like a baby or body oil, or a vegetable oil.
In my classes some people prefer to use a conditioner and water spray. Again I recommend it to be a 4 to 1 ratio. The conditioner can be a fabric or hair conditioner.
Lay the clean fleece out on a protected table and spritz the air above the fleece so the mist falls on the fleece like a light rain. Roll the fleece up turn it over and spritz the underside. Then let it rest for at least an hour maybe longer. This will give the water time to evaporate and leave the oil or conditioner on the fibers, ready for carding.
When I am using wool combs, I keep my spritzer besides me since the combs seem to create more static. I often need to spritz the wool while I am combing. How much you need will depend on how dry your environment is and the "slippery feel" that you like. I definitely used more spritzing when I lived in dry Colorado than I do now in Illinois.