Wednesday, March 21, 2012

First Time

I washed some fleece this weekend. 

It all started at knit night, when Isa brought it some Shetland fleece she'd got for free. Another spinner in the group and myself each took a bit home. I've never washed fleece before, so I figured that this was a risk free opportunity.

Man, that thing was gamey! I'm told that the sheep's owner just dumped the fleece in a garbage bag and had just pulled out a hunk. I have no idea what part of the sheep it came from, or if it had even been skirted. It had dirt in it and hay and other bits that I didn't want to inspect too closely, so I just washed the whole dang thing as it was.

I did 3 super hot washes with detergent and two hot rinses. It was fascinating to watch the lanolin just ooze off the wool in the first hot wash. It's the brown goo on the left side of the picture.

I left the wool in the mesh bag to dry, hanging off a fence post. The day was warm, with a slight breeze and it didn't take long for the little bit of fiber to dry out. As I picked over it, I could still see dung, and hay, and brown round things that I suspect are either insect eggs, or seeds. There was also still clumps of grease in it. I don't think it was my fault. I used super hot water, supplementing the tap water with a kettleful of boiling water from the stove. I also used a ton of detergent.

I found a bit that was as clean as possible, combed it and spun it. It wasn't too bad.

I might want to try this again. But if I do, I'll want to start off with a fleece that I know more about.


  1. You are a BRAVE woman, Laurie! The finished product looks remarkably NICE! Laceweight?

  2. Yep I highly recommend skirting your raw fleece thoroughly before washing it!
    Cary Smith of Serenity Farms has beautiful covered fine Corriedale and very reasonable prices. She has a blog and is on Ravelry. she lives in Michigan so there is shipping but she sells by the pound and is very concerned that her customers get what they want :-)

  3. Wow Laurie! What a job! You must feel super proud to have produced yarn from that pile of lanolin, straw, crap and dirt LOL.

    I think the finished yarn looks totally amazing though.

    I'll let the guy know to have his sheep sheared for spinning and to have the fleece skirted first!

  4. Wow you are one brave woman!

  5. Isn't it exciting to see the transformation from something you wouldn't let your dog sleep on to something beautiful and fluffy? I'm currently working on an alpaca fleece, and it's taking me FOREVER to wash, card and spin. I think I got the fleece of the only moose/alpaca hybrid out there!

  6. Sounds like a big job but the finished yarn looks wonderfully soft!

  7. It is easy to see what our ancetors spent their days doing. Hope you had fun with your experiment

  8. Mary Jane4:00 pm

    If you do this again, you can either buy special cleanser to clean the fleece or use Dawn dish soap. Just don't agitate the water or you will spend forever trying to rinse out the soap. I use Dawn for dirty, smelly yarn before dyeing it. It should work just as well for fleece.