This whole process of processing a fleece has been full of lessons, not the least of which is don’t go look at the fleece sale unless you are OK with the idea of coming home with one or more fleeces.
I learned how to process a fleece in the washing machine. Nothing exploded, or more aptly given the fear of felting, nothing entered a black hole, and I got a bunch of clean fiber, some of which I’ve already spun into yarn that I love.
The wool before washing is sticky and smelly.
You put it in lingerie bags in a STILL washtub full of very hot water with lots (about a cup) of Dawn dish detergent. Soak about 45 minutes, then spin (NO RINSING!). Repeat if still nasty (I did – this shot is after the first soak).
To rinse, fill the tub with hot water but no detergent. To prevent felting, keep the water temps the same throughout and make sure the machine never agitates or sprays water on the wool. It comes out kind of dense packed but fluffs right up. Amazing transformation, almost as much fun as blocking lace.
I’ve learned to card, that Less is More as far as getting really lofty puffs of fiber that roll into rolags that draft like a dream.
Starting material, before and after loading the carder.
Starting and finishing the first pass, with a chance to pull some vegetable matter (VM) out of the fiber. Lots of dirt falls out, too.
After 3 or 4 passes, a fluff cloud of fiber, ready to be rolled into a cute rolag.
I’ve learned that it pays to mix up your locks of wool as you card – unless you want the second skein to look different from the first.
I’ve learned that different colors from the same sheep spin slightly differently and feel different, too. It may be more about the location on the animal, but grey back wool sure feels different from white belly wool.
I’ve learned that yarn you spin from a fleece you processed yourself at first is yarn you want to hoard for yourself, then transforms into little love bombs you want to send out into the universe. I have a knitter friend going through a family challenge, and one of these skeins is headed her way.
I have to admit, I’m hoarding the other one. I guess there is more to learn.