Picker Usage and Safety Protocol

If you wish to use the picker, please contact the Guild on 02 9745 1603 to arrange for a training session. This takes about half an hour and will improve your productiveness when processing fibre as well as training you in its safe use.

The picker is about a metre in height and weighs about 10kg, so is heavy and bulky to lift. It has two rows of sharpened tines which make it dangerous if not used correctly. The following guidelines have been developed to enable members to use the picker safely.

Picker Usage

  1. The picker may be used by members who have been trained in its use. As it is a fierce but effective tool, it is not available for offsite use or rental.
  2. The picker is available for use on Thursday meeting days (12 noon-1pm) or after 1pm on Thursdays if there is enough table space available.
  3. Another good time to use the picker is during study group meetings (e.g. felting, spinning and colour meetings).
  4. The picker is available on meeting days between 1.30m and 4pm ie during meeting times.
  5. The picker is also available at other times when members can be accompanied by those who have keys to the rooms and not inconveniencing other Guild groups.

Lifting the Picker

  1. Because of its bulk the picker should be lifted from floor level by two people. Use safe footwear when lifting the picker, as with all heavy loads (e.g.. no open toed shoes that would leave your feet exposed; no high heels that could put you off balance, etc.)
  2. The picker will be stored on a low shelf in the Guild rooms. It should be drawn out of the shelf and placed fully flat on the floor so that it is accessible to those lifting it.
  3. Check first that the swing tray is locked in position before attempting to lift it.
  4. Both lifters should keep their backs straight and their knees bent when lifting.
  5. Do not lift by holding the swing tray. Lifters should take opposite ends of the picker. It should be kept close to the body, knees should be bent, back kept straight. Use your legs to lift and draw your tummy in to brace your body.
  6. Place the picker on a solid table on top of a non-slip mat and place on the table in the desired position generally 20cm from the table edge.
  7. Two people are required when carrying the picker to another location (e.g. to the small hall) and the above procedures apply to lifting and placing the picker.

Accessories Included

The following equipment accessories are provided. Each of these is important to use when operating the picker. And please ensure that all components are returned to the bag when packing up the picker to keep the next user safe.

  • Leather gloves must be worn at all times while using and cleaning the picker. The spikes on the picker are very sharp and can be very dirty from working with so much fibre.
  • Dowel/cardboard tube to assist fibre movement onto picking tray. It is very important not to push the fibre into the tray with hands or fingers.
  • Wooden blocker to lock the tray into a maximum swing to allow for cleaning.
  • Knitting needle for cleaning.
  • Brush for cleaning tines and lower tray.
  • Non-slip mat to be placed under the picker during use. This is important to ensure the picker doesn’t slide around on the table or fall off. It is a heavy piece that has a pendulum on it. The non-slip mat will keep it from slipping as the pendulum swings.

Fibre Selection

Fibres need to be free of grease. Using greasy wool will make the tines and tray sticky and unusable for the future. Fibres that are 70mm (3 inches) or longer work better. The picker can be used to loosen slightly matted fibres, but be aware that it may tear them. It may also be useful to loosen the fibres with your hands before putting them through the picker. A second pass in the picker may help as well to remove clumps that didn’t separate on the first pass.

Fibre processed through the picker can make further processing of the fibre easier. For instance, picked fibre can be placed through a drum carder easier. Or, of course, you can spin directly from the delicious cloud the picker makes.

Doing a small sample of the fibre is always a good idea.


  1. Always use the leather gloves provided while operating and cleaning the picker.
  2. Release safety catch.
  3. Stand in lunge stance (i.e. one foot placed forward in stance position).
  4. Place a collection tray at the other end of the picker to collect processed fibre which will come out in “clouds”.
  5. Place a small amount of fibre in the lower tray, taking care not to allow fibre to drift to edges.
  6. Using the dowel, feed in a small but continuous stream of fibre.
  7. The action of the swing tray is a rhythmical full swing. Short swings will cause the fibre to form a rolag within the two layers of tines.
  8. Have a collection tray at the discharge end to allow for easy fibre retrieval from the picker.
  9. Clean the picker after use according to directions below.
  10. When replacing on the storage shelf after securing the swinging arm and returning all components to picking bag. Remember that the picker is heavy so observe the guidelines for safe lifting.

Cleaning the Picker

  1. The picker must be cleaned after each use.
  2. Leather gloves must be used while cleaning the picker.
  3. Swing the upper tray forward and then place a wooden block behind the tray to hold it in the open position. Clean out fibres with a knitting needle and brush. Then use the vacuum to get the last bits.
  4. To clear the other side, reverse this action by swinging the upper tray back and use the block to hold open.
  5. Brush out the lower tray underneath the tines.
  6. Return the picker to the storage shelf with the assistance of another person.