I haven't done any spinning since I was a pre-teen. Back then our family was given the use of a beautiful spinning wheel from one neighbour, and several raw fleeces from another. I can remember washing wool in buckets in the greenhouse shed...picking crud and vegetable matter (VM) out of it, carding it with hand carders, and spinning it on the wheel. I don't know how much I really did at the time, and have no wool left from then to show. I remember the fella who gave us the fleeces when I was young asked me to knit him a scarf...and I think I crocheted him a hat. As an adult, I recognize his lovely social grace in accepting the hat rather than the requested scarf (wherever you are - thank you, Misha).
Some of the current web information about spinning is in favour of 'spinning in the grease' and some is in support of spinning with washed fibres. I love the smell of unwashed fleece and have concrete floors...so am not all that worried about having bits of VM and short fibres fall on the floor as I work. I learned that there is a big difference between spinning 'in the grease', and with washed fleece in terms of feel. The wool that I spun before washing is thicker and loftier. I think that is due to the stickiness of the fibres (more stiff to draw), and the stickiness holding the wool together well enough that I didn't have to put quite as much twist in it. For the technical types out there, that 1st skein has 42degree Z-twist, at approximately 10-13 wraps per inch (wpi), considered to be a heavy Aran weight. It is quite slubby (thick and thin spots), due to my learning curve. I made about 40M/110g of yarn (single, not plied) in that first skein. I washed it after spinning and skeining to set the twist.
The spindle I'm using is the one originally posted about here, modified by crazy-gluing two scratched CDs to the top of the whorl. It's working surprisingly well! At first I was spinning by predrafting each rolag and the 'draw and park' method shown here, but have since figured out how to keep the spindle spinning while I draw and am making much more even, thinner yarn.
Washing ahead also seemed to make it easier to pick out the short, unspinnable fibres from the fleece. Something I would do next time with a fleece is to take the time to spread it out and pick out as many of the really short fibres, burrs and dung bits as possible before washing.
I'm on my third skein now (each averages about 50M in length, and about 15wpi.
I knit a beret from the first 1.5 skeins off the spindle using a pattern designed to show off the loveliness of thick/thin 'designer' yarn. It went together really quickly, and without incident my the slubby yarn.Now to knit Todd a toque to say thank you. Or maybe a scarf?