Posts Tagged ‘dying’

There’s been a bit of chatter on one of my lists about washing and prepping fibers for spinning.  It so happens that I am in the midst of washing up a lovely Romney fleece that I’ve recently acquired from my friend Sara of Blackberry Fields Farm and educational farm just barely outside Baltimore. 

I was asked to post some photos of my cleaning process.  I’m no expert, and my piecemeal batch cleaning is certainly not the most efficient, but it works for me. Here is the before picture:

Now this is from last year’s shearing and I had been warned that the lanolin has harden up, so I knew it would need a good bit of cleaning.

Not having anywhere to safely dry a whole flleece at once, I like to clean it in batches.  So I fill up a wash basin with my hottest tap water and add a couple squirts of dish soap (make sure it doesn’t have enzymes).  My hot water heater is set above the code limit (please don’t call the housing police on me!).  If you are at the typical 120 degrees, you might want to add a kettle of boiling water.  Then gently add as much fleece as seems to want to fit.  You really shouldn’t agitate it at all.  I’ll help it sink with an old chpstick (okay, I do swish it a little, but that is WRONG—don’t do that. lol). 

After about 15 minutes, it looks like this:

Doesn’t That look lovely?  No?  Well it smaells just as nice!  Lift the wool out into a strainer (I keep one just for fiber now).  Meanwhile, dump the dirty water, and refill with water just as hot.  Add more dish soap and put the wool back in.  It’s important to change the water while it’s still hot.  If it cools too much, the lanolin will redeposit and re solidify.

I look through the fleece as I return it to the soapy water and pick open any nasty, mucky tips.

Let it go for another 15 minutes or so.  The water is still dirty, but NOTHING like the first bath:

Sometimes I’ll give it a third wash–again sorting through for any icky tips to tease open), but this was looking pretty good, so I left out the detergent on the next bath (yup, lift out the wool, refill tub and resoak).  15 minutes later:

Repeat with one more rinse (more if you need it):

The wool have washed up very soft, with a bit, but not too much vegetative matter.  It’s mostly nice and white, but some yellowed tips.  I was expecting that, since the fleece had sat for so long unwashed.  I’ll save those bits for the dye pot.

This is the wool about half dry.

I have heard it is a good idea to add a splash of vinegar to the rinse water (wool likes a lower ph).  You can also add conditioneer to the final rinse.  I haven’t done either of those, being fundamentally lazy. 

I have heard of a cool step saver recently.  Apparently, you can use your dye bath for the final rinse.  That makes so much sense.  You need to presoak your wool before dying any way, so if you put vinegar in the previous rinse water, you’re all set to put the fibers into the dye pot.  I’ll have to give it a go soon!


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Seems I’ve been making yarn more than I’ve been knitting lately!  I think it’s the lovely spring weather.  I’ve been spending a lot of time at our local park with my son and my spindle.  And as a result, I have plarn:

 This one is two spun plies of plarn plied  with a couple threads of reclaimed wool.  It ended up stronger than unspun plarn, but the plying seems to have kept this a bit softer than my previous experiments with spinning plarn.

I also  have more reclaimed/repun yarn all finished:

These (and a few more) are all up on my etsy shop.  Please take a look if you’re so inclined.

I had some fun with our left over Easter Egg dye, too.  I don’t know what this will end up as.  So many possibilities.  I could sort the colors out or spin up all the spring colors together.  Any ideas out there?

I promise a loom knitting post next time.  Maybe even a pattern soon.

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