Sunday, October 26, 2008

Washing Fleece

I still have fleece to get ready to spin or at least clean them up before the cold of winter. I sold several raw fleece and I sent a few to Montana to make into batts for rugs and some nicer fleece to be spun into yarn. At this time of year washing fleece is to me no fun especially when I see at least ten more hanging in the barn.
It's not easy to get all the hot water that I thought was needed the way my work area is set up. That was till I read my last Spin Off magazine. Of course I can't find it, the magazine. I believe it would be the fall issue of this year our most resent magazine.
Judith MacKenzie-McCuin wrote about cleaning fleece. One way was to soak them in cold dirty water! I can't quote her but she starts out by getting a big dirty lanolin filled fleece. Soak it in a tub for seven days and continue to clean more fleeces in the same water. Gross!
This is what it looks like. I've been cleaning fleece for about a week now. Started with this tub but didn't leave the first fleece in for a week. I put a fresh one in every day or two. If I'm not around to tend to it, it stays longer. When I take this fleece out it will bring a lot of the water with it so I refill the tub with a new fleece and some hot water from my little water heater in the barn. The days here now are in the 70's and the nights are in the 30's. The water gets pretty cold at night and the sun heats it up a bit in the day.
I have two fleeces in this tub. This is the fibers second stop. I'll soak the fleece a day or two in here also. Waters not quiet as dirty. I do need a lid the leaves keep dropping in the tubs. This tub gets no hot water.
I take the fiber out of the water and lay it across a piece of fence. Then take the hose and let the water flow threw the fleece to clean out the dirty water. This fleece has been drying for two days.

Here is a fleece from Siskin my ewe all dry and clean! There is still some lanolin left but all the dirt is gone. Great way to spin in the grease, there is not much of it. Shetland sheep don't have great amounts of lanolin in the first place and this fleece with no hot water has less lanolin than when I started and no dirt.

I'm having the best time washing fleece. Hope the weather holds for at least another week.


Leigh said...

Interesting post. I am always amazed at the information from Judith MacKenzie-McCuin. I recently figured out that hot water isn't necessary to clean fleece and that long cold soaks do really well. This was a relief for me. Less of a bother for some reason. I take it you are not using soap?

Sharon said...

I'm having a Pavolvian response. It's evening and I need to unwind for work tomorrow, but I look at that fleece and all my heart wants to do is mess with fleece. I can even smell it. So what's your price on washed but unprocessed fleece?

Kara said...

I will have to try it next year. I can't believe how clean it looks. Do you use soap?

Mim said...

No soap! If you want the remaining lanolin out I'd say a simple hot wash with soap and a few rinses would clean the wool completely.
"Huge" less of a problem for me and how green can you get with no hot water. I don't know a price yet.

~~Sittin.n.Spinnin said...

That is really neat! If you were to do it in the summer, the sun would heat your water and possibly remove some of the lanolin to right? Too cool!

Allison said...

Excellent way to go! I gave up on fleece purchases a long time ago mostly because I love the no muss, no fuss of purchasing roving or top. Now I will reconsider. I love shetland and between you and my brother, can get my hands on LOTS!