I'm digging these blog hops - so much fun to participate in these! And yes, this is a new one. I join Deborah Jean's Dandelion House for my first Farm Girl Friday!!!And Pocket Pause for Eat Make Grow. This is going to be such a blast!
Today I'm going to share my process for cleaning a raw fleece. I got this lovely warm brown alpaca fleece from my good friend Leslie Comfort. The fleece came with it's name card - okay Bailey's Breeze, time to clean you up!
What a gorgeous fleece!!! I am really looking forward to spinning this up!
The first step is to skirt the fleece. This is a very messy job and is best done outside. Spread the fleece out and pick out as much vegetable matter and any cruddy, poopy clumps that may in there. Don't be squeemish! Jump right in there and clean that sucker!
It's handy to have a couple of barn kitty helpers.Especially Zombie who usually tries to situate himself somewhere between my face and my hands whenever I try to do any work outside, so I can't really see what I'm doing. Cookie, on the other hand, just likes to be close by - always a dignified kitty!
Once the fleece is well picked over, it is time to wash it. Yes, I use my washing machine. It's the perfect container to wash up a super dirty fleece. As long as you are careful to not let the machine agitate while the fleece is in it, everything will be just fine in there.
I pour in some dish soap which is especially good for greasy wool fleeces.
Don't add the fleece just yet! Pouring water onto the fleece may cause it to felt. Fill the washer basin full of nice hot water and let it agitate a minute to suds up the soap.
It's nice idea to put the fleece in mesh lingerie bags if you have any. I couldn't find mine, but it's okay to go on and wash a fleece without them. Just handle the fleece gently when taking in and out of the washer.
Make sure the wash cycle is set to off and put the fleece into the hot soapy water. I use a stick to gently submerge the fleece because the water is just to darn hot for my hands!
I leave my washer's lid up because the washer doesn't run when it is open. That way I won't run it by accident.
Let the fleece have a good soak, at least ten minutes. My soaks vary and depends largely on when I remember that, oh yeah - I have a fleece soaking!
After the soak, it's time to set the washer on the spin cycle to spin put the excess water. It might seem funny that you can use the spin cycle when the wash cycle will destroy a fleece. The fleece doesn't really get moved around in the spin cycle, it remains plastered to the sides of the basin, while the whole basin spins. The conformity of the fleece is preserved.
The fleece is still going to need a couple of rinses. Remove the fleece gently and refill the basin with fresh hot water. Add fleece gently and soak. Repeat this as many times as you need to until the water spins out clear. This alpaca fleece was so clean, it only needed two rinses, but I have had some filthy wool fleeces that took as second soapy wash and many more rinses.
So this is my method for washing out a raw fleece. What is your method?