Sunday, March 22, 2009

Processing fleece in the basement

Once you go down these un-level stairs, holding onto the wall and the plumbing-pipe-banister, you enter the maw of fleece processing!

I don't like cleaning and laundry.....but cleaning fleece? That I like. I even like the smell of it, really! Now I don't have to do it every day, so it is not a burden. I don't have to live with the smell everyday, so my house does not reek of the barnyard. But that sheepy smell is associated with fibery goodness for me.
I got this Rubbermaid tub at a used good store for $3. I cut a hole in it and inserted a tap and attached an outlet hose. I fill it with hot water from the laundry tub and from the BIG Mr. Coffee. I use Unicorn Wool wash and lots of smallish net bags which I loosely fill with fleece. Soak, rinse, repeat, as they say. Very little agitation, just enough manipulation to make sure that all the wool gets soaked. I cover the tub with a large tray to keep in the heat. Drain after 15-20 minutes.
When I was washing the grimy mohair the other day, for the second time, I spun the bags in the spin dryer between rinses to get out the muddy water. Two rinses later I had the lovely white mohair I showed you yesterday.

When the fleece is dry it is dyed and dried again and then, more than likely, put through my Patrick Green Triple Picker, my most favorite tool after my Roberta Spinner. It is a little scary, but not too hard to manage safely. I wear leather gloves, an apron if my clothes are at all loose and never do it with people around. It's a tool you want to use with the minimum distraction.
After picking the wool is often ready to is light and pretty airy...making a kind of wild yarn with lots of halo. But it could, rarely, go on to be combed or, more often, go through my PG Deb's Deluxe Drum Carder. Currently I am a fan of wild batts.

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