Here is the third post in the DOT Project series!
There are times that I consider myself fortunate that no one else is in the house when I do projects like this. Raw fleece has a certain pong. Not unpleasant, but the felines can’t leave it alone. I thought a blanket over the top of the bin I wasn’t working with would handle it.
Not so much!
I had to laugh at that particularly intense feline glare. The bins of fleece went into the back of my car to get them out of range for the night.
I put the fleece on my indoor work table and quickly realized that the table is not nearly large enough to properly spread out the fleece. I also realized that the fleece had been bundled up a couple too many times to make it possible to spread it out so it was facing all the same way.
I was able to do a bit more clean-up of the fleece, taking out a bit more of the dirtiest parts, some vegetable matter, and a few short cuts.
Then I split it into two bins. One bin was 2 pounds 10 ounces, and the other was 2 pounds 12 ounces. These are the dirty weights, and I expect them to be much lighter once I get them washed.
My kitchen sink isn’t my ideal set up for washing fleece. I would much rather have a pair of deep laundry sinks outdoors. The only difference doing the process in my kitchen sink is the amount I can have in the sink at a time. My process in washing is certainly not the only way to get the job done, but I haven’t had a felting disaster since I started using this procedure.
First, I fill the sink with the hottest water I can get from the tap, and some dish detergent.
Then I dump in a portion of the fleece. About a half pound at a time works well. I don’t swish it around, or rub it. No agitation! I just push it underwater. Then I let it soak for about 30 minutes. Once the 30 minutes (or so) is up, I scoop the fiber out of the really, really dirty water using either a wire basket or colander. I put in the other sink to drain a bit while I fill the sink with clean water that is about the same temperature as what the fiber just came out of. The important part of not getting a huge mass of felt is avoiding a large change in temperature.
Next step is to do a few plain water soak cycles to get as much of the dissolved dirt and soap out of the fleece as possible. As you can see, it is already much cleaner! I usually change the water three times. Just make sure that each fresh sink of water is about the same temperature as the prior cycle.
The fleece is much cleaner, just compare it to the start of the process! The basket in the image is a wire waste basket from the dollar store.
Just as an aside, if I were doing this outdoors, I would be sure to put the dirty water on the garden.
At this point, I spread it out on a towel pinned to a drying rack. As hot as it is in north Texas this time of year, it will be dry within a day.
This is not all the way clean, but it is definitely far enough along that I can prepare batts for spinning on my drum carder and spin it. Most of what dirt and vegetation that remains will get knocked out of the fiber in the processes of carding, spinning, and plying. The yarn will get washed again once it is spun and plied.
I got the first bin done. The batch in the image above is now dry, and the other three batches are on the drying rack on the front porch.
Next post – carding and starting to spin!