Monday, November 5, 2007

This Is The Way We Scrub Our Wool

I had the pleasure of having some time this weekend to scour some wool for Necia so she can spin it up for stranded mittens. I figured that this was a good a time as any to take pics and post a tutorial for my scouring method. I like my method because even though you can only scour small batches (think 12 oz) it works well and you don't ruin the washing machine or dirty the tub beyond recognition. I would like to note that if you can't get your tap water hot enough it really makes it easy on your self to keep a pot of water at a low simmer through the process to add a bit of boiling water to the bath. I'm also assuming that you have picked all the large bits of VM out of the fleece, because that's what I do, though I think you could use this method if you haven't picked out the bit first.

Scouring Wool
You will need the following items
1. A large stock pot
2. Dirty dirty dirty fleece (seriously this guy was skirted but smells like an old urinal)
3. A sieve or colander
4. A towel
5. Powdered laundry soap (not pictured)
Lets get a closer look at the dirty fleece

Step 1
First run some cold water into the pot
Then place the fleece into the pot
Push the fleece down using the sieve or colander. And let sit for 10-20 minutes.
Use the sieve/colander to lift the wool out of the pot
(Please ignore the blue, I figured since I was washing for Necia I could clean some dyed merino too :)
Your water should look like this (or worse)
Empty the cold water and give the pot a quick rinse.

Step 2
Get your detergent and take 1/2 a scoop and put into the pot
Add hot (as hot as you can get) water to the pot with the soap.
If your water isn't hot enough this would be the point where you would add a few cups of the simmering water you have on the stove to the tap water you have in the pot.
Add the fleece back to the pot of hot soapy water and cover with the lid.
The lid helps the water stay hot. Leave the fleece in the hot water for 15 minutes. Do not leave it in too long or the water will cool down and the lanolin will redeposit itself on the wool, making your efforts null.
Scoop out the fleece from the hot soapy water
Drain the pot and rinse, repeat Step 2 one to two more times with the detergent, and then without the detergent until the water looks clear when the fleece is taken out

Step 3
When the water looks clear after a washing the fleece is clean. Lift the fleece out of the water and allow to drip dry in the sieve for an hour or two
Once all the excess water has dripped out place the fleece on a towel
Start to roll the fleece in the towel gently squeezing to remove excess water
Now the fleece should be comfortable in a nice towel burrito
Find a nice dry spot (outside or in) and lay the fleece out an a different towel to finish drying

Want to see a side by side before and after?
It looks like a totally different animal.

I hope this helps you. Please let me know if you have any questions. Fleece cleaning is not a daunting as it may seem.

You what's more difficult then cleaning a fleece? Cleaning a dog!
Seriously at least the fleece doesn't struggle with you and look at you with sad dog eyes as if saying "why are you doing this to me? I do not like this thing you are doing!"
And yes that is the fleece in the pot sitting next to the dog I bathed them together. So I would only have to clean the tub once (I'm so lazy/smart)


Necia said...

Woo Hoo. Thanks for the tutorial. Thanks for the wool. Question, how is it the wool doesn't felt, going from a cold soak, to a hot bath? I cleaned some fleece this weekend too, and Im surprised with how much I loved the process. You do know they sell HUMONGOUS stock pots right?


Valerie said...

THANK YOU SO MUCH! Your tutorial acutally makes this process seem manageable. I just bought my first fleece and I'm terrified :-)

Tamsyn said...

thanks for your tutorial, its great to see the pictures.. I've just been given a lot of fleeces and never done this before. I think I've bee n cutting to much off them. Can't wait to get cleaning them so just off to buy a huge pot!

Tamsyn G

Jacki said...

I'm getting ready to start cleaning the Border Leicester you sent, so this is going to help a lot.

Also, when my dog Toby was a puppy, we washed her and tolled her up in a towel burrito and set her on the couch so she stayed warm. 20 minutes later, I was like, "Hey, what happened to Toby?" because we forgot to unroll her. Poor thing was still in her burrito looking miserable. Your towel burrito photo reminded me of that. :)

lostneedle said...

Favourited this! Useful and funny.
Get a cat, they clean themselves lol :P

Anonymous said...

How do you store your raw fleece while you wait to get it ALL washed? I'd say this is the best tutorial. What soap do you use? What wools have you washed?

Anonymous said...

I cleaned 12 oz of Shetland last night. It took two washings with Dawn (can I use liquid tide for front loaders). It took 3 rinses to get the water clear. My question is my wool was so sudsy is that ok?

Blueball Mountain Spindle and Needle Works said...

Hey great tutorial on washing the fleece. I usually just use the whole tub but it makes so much more economic sense to use a pot.

Hang in there. Don't give up your dream to live on doing what you love: fiber!

A former NJ workaholic now living on a farm in KY doing what i love: fiber

Bohoknitterchic said...

I love this! Thanks so much for posting something so detailed!

Akua Lezli Hope said...

Thanks! I needed this!