This morning, filceolaire
and I went to the Handweavers Studio
so I could pick up a couple of carders, some drop spindles, and some commercially prepared fleece for spinning so I could get an idea of what it felt like. Nancy, the lady who owns Handweavers Studio, spoke to me for a few minutes, explained drop spindles to me, and absolutely advocated not
washing this wool. She said we should just start carding, and if it was dirty, we should soak the dirty bits in water, just like standing in the rain.
Well, that was all well and good, but the fact was that the wool is sticky, and it's hard to get out all the straw, dirt, leaves, whatever, because everything sticks to everything else. PB and I hand-cleaned a bunch of the stuff, measured the fibre length and kinkiness and found it Good, tried to card a small bit to see if that would get rid of the rest of the dirt and impurities (it didn't), and so then we decided to experiment. We took everything we did for the first hour or so, which amounted to about 50g of wool, and took it through the washing process I'd found on the internet. We filled the sink with very hot water and added some mild liquid soap, then immersed the small amount of fleece and soaked for 45 minutes. Then we put it in the spin cycle on the washer, took it out, and rinsed it twice, the second time with vinegar, spinning in between each rinse cycle and afterwards. After that, I took it out and put it on the porch to dry. It is amazingly white and fluffy, although it still looks too dirty before carding. After carding, it seems to be doing a bit better.
I did despair a little bit, because I wanted very much to follow Nancy's advice and not wash the lanolin out of the fleece. Then, I came upon this article about spinning in the grease
and preparing grease fleeces. So I have another hank of fleece in to soak overnight in cold water, just to see what might happen. I also have another hand-cleaned batch, which I'll flick card and play with a bit on the drop spindle.
Of course, you want pictures. stevieannie
, I'm afraid I didn't take any pictures at the Studio; the only meaningful memory I have of it other than Nancy being an awful lot like Kathy Mar in mannerism, is the parking ticket. :-/( Pictures and some more details below. )