Friday, March 31, 2006

Unknown Depths
The last time I posted I was about to plunge into the unknown depths of washing sheep fleece. I have never done this before. The only knowledge that I have to this was taking verbal dictation from my spinning instructor, Mary Scott and from checking out the internet. I did my very best to follow their instructions and I am pleased to say, it went and is going very well.
This is a bit dark but you can see the bags in the guest bathroom tub.

I ran the tub full with the hottest water I could get. It was recommended 160 but I have no idea how hot our hot water heater is. I think it was pretty up there but it worked never-the-less. Before I put the bags in the water I added 1/2 cup of the blue Dawn dishwashing liquid and then laid the bags on the top of the water. I gently gave them a push so the wool would absorb the water. I was totally amazed how that little push produced this chocolate colored water.

I let the bags soak for 30 minutes then unplugged the tub. As the water was draining out, I picked up one bag and let it drain enough that I could put it into a container I had sitting beside the tub. Then I lift the second bag out and waited for the tub to drain. I rinsed it out with cold water to save the hot for soaking. Once it was drained and cleaned out, I redrew the water and started the whole process again. I did it three times with the soap. I did two more soakings each 30 minutes with no soap. I could see that water was clean when I picked up the bags. It only took 2 clean water soakings to get the soap out from the other three soakings. Then I took my container of wet fleece (still in the net bags) and put them on oppisite sides of the washing machine. I put the washer on spin (with NO water) and put my finger down on the safey catch so that I could leave the lid up while it was spinning to make sure no water sprayed on the wool. I let it spin until I thought it was dry. I didn't have any screens to dry the wool on so I got a large bath towel and spread it out on the dining room table. We hardly ever sit there to eat anymore since it's just the two of us these days. I spread all the wool out and then turned on the ceiling fan. I let it sit there for about 12 hours and then flopped it over to the other side. I think I did this process for about 2 1/2 days until I was sure the wool was dry. It was so much cleaner, better smelling, fluffy and soft. I had no idea if it was felted or not. I even did a word search on Google to see if I could get some pictures or some idea about what a fleece went wrong looked like; no such luck. So I prayed over the fleece.

Friday-March 3I

I am on the last two bags of the first whole fleece I started with. I had errands to run and dashed by Lowes yesterday. I went to the window screen section and picked out two pre-made window screens. They were huge. Too big, but just about the time I was walking off with two of them, a nice sales person came and asked me if I had found what I was looking for. I said that I wanted smaller screens and he told me that they had some smaller ones. We walked to another aisle and they were adjustable screens that were perfect for my little foldable dryer. I bought three because I thought it had three tiers and I got lucky! So this time no towel on the dining room table. Below is the rack with the new expandable window screens, I will be using for drying from now on. This is my sunroom. I thought since the weather is slowly getting warmer, drying inside the sunroom was better than the house. I would love to put the rack outside but after reading a section in the Yarn Harlot's book about a squirel stealing her wool, the sunroom it is!!


Wool Winder said...

Sounds like it worked! The screens on the drying rack are a great idea!

Leslie said...

Thanks for the detailed report. I'm going to use your idea of the screens/drying rack. Looking forward to the carding story.

vlb5757 said...

I am washing the second bag of free fleece as I am sitting here typing this. I am a little more conifdent but still with a tinge of nervousness. The other fleece washed up really well and drying the wool in those window screens only took two days in the sunroom. The temperatures here have been nearly 80 so it went quickly. There is rain today so the wool will not have a great start today but tomorrow lots of sunshine and no rain. I can't wait to see how it turns out myself!

I will probably have to take some carding lessons and buy myself a drum carder. I have no idea what this is going to cost but I am so excited to learn how to do this. I think doing it by hand myself will make me appreciate the prices on wool when I see it. It's a lot of work but lots of fun too.