I was recently given some raw Romney fleece, and thought it would be a good opportunity to share how I prepare a fleece for spinning. Many thanks to Andy and Pam Walton of Lake View Farm, who donated the fleece, and to our friend Tyson for setting aside the best of the fleece for us. You made this post possible!
A raw fleece consists of many locks of fiber. A lock is a group of fibers that "hangs" together, much like a lock of hair. Here is a lock of fleece:
To prepare a fleece for washing and carding or combing, I first separate out each lock and (when necessary) remove any foreign material, such as hay, seeds, dead bugs, dung tags, and even on rare occasions a flap of skin that came off with the fleece. Here you can see some hay in the fleece.
Next, I flick card it to separate the fibers and release the dirt. This is the tool I use for this procedure: