All the flicked pieces go in a bag together and eventually they will be combined in the next step – carding. The flicking process separates the good wool from the broken bits, the little tufts where the shearer had to cut twice to get down to the skin, and the pieces that are just too dirty to use. Quite a bit of wool goes in the garbage at this point, but the stuff that is left is really nice. I have only washed about a third of Mom’s wool, so I have quite a bit to go – and then I can start on Al’s wool! There’s no shortage of fiber to play with here.
Although flicking each individual lock sounds tedious, it actually is relaxing, and goes quite quickly. I like to think about pioneer women while I flick out the locks, and wonder how it felt to be working with the wool from your sheep and wondering if you had enough to make hats and mittens to keep everyone warm through the winter. We do it for fun, but our forefathers (or foremothers I should say) had to know how to spin for survival. It’s amazing to me all the skills they knew that we have lost!