Conversations with a Spinner

We have just published the first of an occasional series of articles entitled “Conversations with a Spinner.” This first article deals with the subject of raw fleece – go ahead and spin, or wash it first?

We would like to know your thoughts on the matter, so if you would like to share your experiences, please leave your comments.

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2 Responses to “Conversations with a Spinner”

  1. Woolbothy 29th October 2010 at 7:00 pm #

    The Great Fleece Washing Debate.

    There must be as many ways to wash fleece as there are recipes for fruit cake. I lean more towards Gill’s method than I do towards the “Boil it up in Fairy Liquid” brigade.

    Having recently joined our regional branch of the Spinning Guild, I was quite surprised to find that my welcome letter was attached to several sheets of H&S warnings about unwashed fleece. If you keep sheep you’ll deal with far worse than a dusty fleece. Other Guild members all seem to wash their fleece, lock by lock, in warm water & detergent, before spinning. I’m somewhat relieved to discover that I’m not a completely on my own.

    Some years ago hubby started moaning about our house smelling like a sheep shed, so these days I soak raw fleece for 24 or 48 hours, with cold water, in a large modified feed bin (I added a hole & a plug). I use enough rinses for the water to run clear. I’m lead to believe that the suint (unfermented) acts as a natural cleanser. A good volume of dust & smell is removed. My fleece looses about 20% of it’s weight during the washing process, which shows just how much dirt is rinsed away. The fleece stays lovely & greasy, no hot water or soap is used & the waste water is re-used as plant food.

    The only time I do use detergent is when I’m dyeing un-spun fleece, otherwise the grease prevents proper absorption of the dye.

    All that said, I’m sure that the ‘Correct’ way is the way that works for you.

    Last winter I conducted an experiment – fleece washing in an automatic washing machine. I’ll not go in to details. It wasn’t as bad as one might imagine, but I’d not bother again.

  2. sandra 29th October 2010 at 7:34 pm #

    It has only been relatively recently that I learned that fleece can be washed prior to spinning!
    I just tug locks from the fleece, comb them with a dog comb, when I have a sandwich box full I spin it. It is only after plying and winding it into hanks that my wool gets washed. I wash the hanks in biological detergent, in just warm water. Rinse in same temperature. And just a very quick dunk in cold to finish it and make it fluffy. Then it dries on the line, hand wound into balls, rests for a day (probably more for my benefit!) Then knitted.

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