14. January 2011 09:48
I purchased 2 lb of Raw Shetland Fleece back at the Maritime Handspinner's Retreat in October last year... and it has been waiting patiently for me to get my act together and start scouring it!
Really for this fleece, scouring is a bit of a misnomer... it was super clean to begin with! The fleece was very heavily skirted before I bought it, so there really aren't any "waste" bits. I only saw one little bit of poo, and very little vegetable matter in the quick sift through the bag. The fleece smells mildly sheepy, I guess you could say sheepy in a "good" way. I tried just flicking open a lock and spinning from that in the grease, and it was actually quite pleasant. Even still though, where I intend to make myself a sweater from it, I thought I should wash it first, and do things the usual way. I was worried that the lanolin wouldn't come out fully if I spun the yarn first and scoured after.
Because I wasn't really worried about dissolving a large amount of dirt for this fleece, I decided to wash it by the heaping handful in lingerie bags in the kitchen sink. (I plan on installing one of those large wash basin laundry sinks in my basement someday, but not soon enough to wash this fleece) The bags themselves are just cheap net with a zipper at one end... I think I bought them at the dollar store. I stuffed the bags mostly full with fleece without really packing it in. When the wool gets wet it really compresses down, so even though the bags looked fairly full, after they hit the hot water... flat as a pancake!
For really dirty fleeces, apparently you have to be a lot more fussy about what detergent you use. I just used a healthy squirt of Dawn dish detergent in my first sink for this batch. I used tap water as hot as the little furnace could churn out, and then added a kettle full of boiling water to it for good measure. Then I just set the bags on the surface, and as the locks absorbed the water, they sank and soaked. I didn't want the water to get too cold between soakings (temperature shocks = felting hazard!) so I left the bags to soak for about 30 minutes, then replaced the water. I only used soap in the first soak, then continued on with plain hot water for 3 more soaks, at about 30 minutes each. At this point, the locks had lost their sticky feel and the water ran clear. I let the bags drip as long as I could stand, and then laid them out on towels to drain some more. It didn't take long for the towels to get wet... wool holds a lot of water! I left the locks out on a mesh sweater dryer rack to finish the drying process... which I expect to take a few days at minimum. The air is dry at our house right now, so the extra water evaporating into the air will likely be a soothing influence.
I expect that washing this entire fleece will take 3 more sessions of scouring... my mesh drying rack is pretty small, so I have to do small batches and let them dry in between. Next time I go to the dollar store, I'll have to look for some more of the bags and racks!
Here is a shot of this session drying on the rack... mmm curly crimpy soft wooly goodness!