AC was asking for photos of my recent fibre work experiments, so here they are!
We start with raw fleece: unwashed wool, straight off the sheep. This is carded, meaning several bits of fleece are stuck to a board that has multiple metal teeth sticking out of it (much like a wire dog brush) and transferred to another card of the same type with a swatting/pulling kind of motion. The fleece is shifted back and forth from one card to another until the fibres in the fleece have been unkinked and most of the vegetable matter has dropped out. The finished fleece is then rolled into a rolag which is used for spinning.
Historical note: my Gram apparently hand carded all the wool for some blankets that are now on The Boy's bed.
As I have not yet acquired a spinning wheel, all my spinning is done using the ancient technology of a drop spindle. Similar devices have been used for ages and ages, even back before Biblical times. Spinning on one of these gives you an incredible respect for the women who spun thread on drop spindles, then wove it into fabric and sewed garments for their families (and tents, and saddle blankets, and everything else they needed).
The spun wool is usually plied, but this time I chose to just make loosely spun singles. This means that the wool was spun into a single strand of yarn then used as it is, without plying. In this picture you see the scarf I've started (well, I assume it is going to be a scarf, but I reserve the right to change my mind).
This is how the wool looks when it is washed. The spun singles on the spindle are wrapped into a skein that is tied in four places to keep the loops from unwrapping. The wool is immersed in hot soapy water, then rinsed clean and hung to dry. Before knitting with this yarn, I will wind it into a ball, as that's less likely to get tangled while I'm working with it.
Usually, two or three of these skeins of singles would be plied together into a single strand of yarn, but this experiment was to see what would happen if I knit with unplied singles. So far the finished product is looking a bit fuzzy and a bit uneven - the yarn is not spun to an even thickness. I've decided this is a feature: you pay extra for slubby yarn at the craft store, but hey, I can make that stuff all by myself!