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Fleece Washing 101

Posted on Aug 2, 2011 by in Fiber preperation | 0 comments

Ok, I know I’ve been absent for a really long time. It was mainly due to a horrendous study schedule, exams and whatnot, but now that I’ve officially finished college I’m BAAAAACK!!!

So I thought I’d kick off the summer in style and cover one of the most mundane jobs that we spinners either love or hate, washing a fleece. A few of my spinny friends sigh at the thought of washing a fleece, and although they want to do it sometimes to put it plainly they just can’t be bothered to do it.

Now me on the other hand, I quite like it. it’s down to personal preference I suppose, after all not every spinner wants to do the the entire “from sheep to knitted garment…bla bla bla” some of us love the convenience of just buying already scoured fleece or plain tops.

My first fleece washing experience was back in april where I bought a particular lovely fine white Shetland fleece. I’d previously looked up how to wash fleece and figured I was up to the challenge and so after scouting the fleeces I came back with the above mentioned lovely white fleece, and also went halves on a grey Shetland fleece with my travel buddy Snowberrylime.

I then got into a discussion with the lady selling the fleeces who was a wealth of knowledge, she happily went over the do’s and don’ts and what you need and don’t need.

So without any further blabbing on my part, here is my handy guide on how to get a fleece processed in a matter of hours….enjoy!

Firstly your going to need something to soak your fleece in, and by the way if your thinking “my bathtub or sink will do” HELL NO!!! just think of all the rubbish including poo and pee and god knows what else that’s accumulated in your lovely fleece, not to mention the muchos amounts of dirt and lanolin. Now ask yourself, do you really want to use your sink or bathtub?….thought not!

What you need in order to proceed

In this picture I have 3 gorilla buckets or Truggs as their called, Rubber gloves ( are optional, I don’t tend to use them as I’m not fussy)
Wool wash, I use Ecover Delicate wool wash, It costs £1.57 from Asda and tends to get my fleece really clean, I don’t use fairy liquid as its a degreaser and makes fleece sticky, You need a detergent not a degreaser!
Plastic bag for putting the skirted bits of fleece in to throw away
Hottest tap water, (I have a hose from my sink in the kitchen outside to my buckets for convenience, not to mention its back friendly as I don’t want to be lugging around buckets of water.
A pillow case to put the clean fleece in to spin cycle in your washing machine (check that your washer does a plain spin cycle as a rinse and spin cycle will be disasterous!!)

Step 1

so you’ve layed out your fleece and skirted it accordingly, any really trashy poopy bits and kempy parts of the fleece need to be discarded, this is what the plastic bag is for….

so heres a picture of my skirted fleece, its a Dorset horn cross Texel fleece…yummy!

Next you need to fill 2 of your buckets with hot tap water and a nice big squirt of wool wash detergent, once you’ve done this plop in your fleece and press it down into the water, then leave it soak for 10 mins

Mmmmm! look at that lovely stinky water….

Here’s a close up….

So after about 10 minutes the water should still be hot, It’s really important that you don’t let the water cool as the lanolin will reform and reattach to the wool taking the dirt with it. You then need to put more soap into the third bucket and fill with hot water again, then you pick up the fleece from the water gently squeezing the water from it and then transferring it to the clean water.

Oooh! look at the grundgy water 😀

Once you’ve done this empty the water from the bucket, refill and repeat with the second gorilla bucket full of fleece.

I tend to give my fleece three hot soapy soaks and one plain water rinse.

Check out my fleece in the rinse bucket, see how much cleaner the water is?

after the rinse soak, I then take out the fleece and squeeze out as much water as I can, I then place it into a pillowcase and then put it into my washing machine on a spin cycle.

Que the cheesy washing machine picture….how cool is my pillowcase?

Once the spin cycle has completed, lay out the fibre onto a clean blanket, (or whatever way you like to dry your fleece) and leave it to dry..

Et Voila!!

And a close-up of my lovely clean flufftastic fleece….

Lovely fluffy clean fleece, ready for carding, dyeing, spinning e.t.c.

Hope this helps, feel free to leave comments or questions, happy fleece washing 😀

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