Sorry it has been a few days…. Life does get busy… especially with all my bunnies hoping around.
After the sheep is shorn and the fleece is skirted, it is generally washed. Some spinners to spin “in the grease”, but that is a specialty that we won’t get to for now.
Washing a fleece correctly is important to remove the lanolin and vegetable matter and … uh hummm, other ‘stuff’ that may be stuck in the wool. After all, wool is a natural product. The trick is to clean the fiber without felting or damaging the wool.
You want to try it on your own? Here is one way… There are several.
1. Fill a large tub, basin or bucket with very hot water. Add 1 cup of detergent. I use dish detergent.
2. Submerge your fleece in the water. Do NOT agitate! Just let it soak for about 45 minutes.
3. Lift the fleece out of the water and set aside.
4. Repeat steps 1 and 2.
5. Sort the fibers that are clean enough to dry and those that need to go through steps 1 and 2 again.
6. Before drying… Fill your tub one more time with Hot water and about 1 cup of white vinegar and let soak for 30 minutes.
7. Now remove your fiber, gently squeezing out extra water and lay flat to dry. I dry mine on the trampoline… but a towel or sheet works fine too.
You can do the above in your washing machine… but be careful not to let it it agitate. I have found that the lanolin is really not very good for my machine… so now I use a tub.
It is fun to wash your own fleece, but if you want to get to the next step faster, you may want to send it out to be done. Here are some links to some of the mills I know of.