[spinning] Washing fleece

This past weekend I finally put together a mesh frame to spread out the lamb's fleece that I bought at VT Sheep and Wool a couple weeks ago:

Finally put together a wooden frame and screen. Starting to wash the lamb fleece that I got a couple weekends ago at Vermont sheep and wool. 4lbs to wash. This is going to take a while.

4lbs of Romney lamb. I'm picking through the locks, layering them into a basket (three layers, separated by mesh):

Layering the locks to wash in HOT soapy water to get the lanolin out.

I have two plastic tubs in the garage. I fill each with one bucket of hot water from the tap. Then I divide a stockpot of boiling water between the two, so they both super hot and the same temperature. One tub has about a tablespoon of dawn dish soap. Then I put the basket of locks in to soak for 15 min and melt out the lanolin wax.

Locks in a plastic basket in a larger plastic tub in the garage.

After transferring the basket to the other tub (to water that is the same temperature), you can see how filthy the soapy water gets:

Basket moved to the second tub to rinse. Look how dirty the water is from the soapy wash!

Here's an example of what the fiber looks like before washing (left) and after washing (right):

Unwashed on the left. Washed on the right! All this washing will be worth it to have piles of white fleece to spin!

SO WHITE. Just want I wanted when I bought this fleece. I'm not super happy with the state of the fleece, there's a lot of undesirable junk in it (chaff and vegetable matter) but I think a lot of it will fall out when I start coming the locks.

Progress so far (you can see the unwashed stuff in the back):

Washed fleece

Ugh. Lots and lots and lots more washing to do. Then lots of combing. Then lots of spinning. Then lots of knitting. I'm not sure I'll process too many more fleeces in the future, but at least I know how to now.

1 comment:

gayle said...

Washing a fleece is always a huge undertaking, but the results are truly satisfying. It takes "I did this all myself" to a whole new level!