Friday, July 31, 2009

Return of the Picker

Himself, the picker, came to visit at my home for a couple of weeks. He was a busy little camper too. No rest for him, or me, for that matter. I managed to pick through about 9 lbs of wool, from 3 different sheep. One was a dark brown corriedale grown in Texas(yep, Terri, our fleece), one from a wonderfully certified organic soft white rambouillet grown in Minnesota, and one a very soft gray corriedale grown in Michigan. All very nice fibers. However, I think I heard the picker sigh a sigh of relief when I was done with the brown fleece, and asked me if the others were that dirty. :) I assured him they were not, that the Texas dirt was the

The pictures to the left show several different views of the picker. In the top one, I am showing you just a portion of the sharp nails along the bottom of the picker, that separate the wool fibers of the fleece. Separating the fibers, not only fluffs them up, but it helps to loosen the dirt that sheep naturally get into in the fields they live in. Can you imagine, the sheep get dirty? Shocker, I know. Anyway, this causes the dirt to fall out. Yes, you do wash the fleece before you pick it, but not all of the dirt falls out in the wash. Removing dirt will come in all stages of fiber prep, washing, picking, carding and knitting/crocheting. But, when you are done, you have a fabulous yarn and product.
The second picture shows the top of the picker and all of its sharp nails. You must be very careful not to cut yourself with this tool.
The nails are installed on the underside of the top and I have turned it upside down so you can see them.

OK, so this third picture may look a little warped, I know. But, I was trying to get the whole length of the picker (about 38 inches) into one picture and be close enough so you could see it. Notice the top is now right side up, and has a great handle. It slides back and forth on a ridge that is in the box. The left side of the photo shows where the unpicked fiber is fed into the picker. Then you slide the top across the fiber and over the nails that are on the bottom of the picker. As you slide the top back and forth the fiber collects in the opposite end and will eventually fluff its way out of the picker.

Voila! There you have it, out the other side, comes your white fluff. Oh, so soft! This is the rambouillet fleece that came from some friends farm in Minnesota. It a wonderful fleece. So, soft that it feels like cotton when spun, no kidding.

The next step is to the carder. I will show that another day.

On to the weather, because that is what Texans do. I guess because it changes all the time, and there really isn't a usual for us. We had almost 4 inches of rain at our home this week! Totally unheard of for July in Texas. Temps topped out below average all week, but we had humidity. Still the humidity wasn't that bad, not for someone from the east coast. Anytime I think it is bad, I look at the % and tell myself, that I have lived in worse, much worse. We have sun today, which is nice. I was able to get my morning walk in and my swimming time in.


  1. Great pictures and explanation of the operation of the picker, Joanne. I have to tell you, Himself-the-picker is pretty lonely right now. We've had so much rain that I'm not able to move any of my equipment to the farm yet. After so much traveling and activity, he's languishing in my lonely studio in Dallas while I'm wishing I had him and all his equipment friends out here with me in Farmersville! Soon, I keep telling him. Soon!

  2. Joanne - that's a lot of wool sent through that thing! So are you finally going to mix the silk noil with the brown or have we moved on from that? ;-)