Sunday, November 15, 2009

Washing Fleece

Since it was going to be 60 degrees today (it's already 55 and it's not even 10 am yet!), I started to wash this fleece yesterday afternoon. Today will be a perfect day to let the fleece dry on the 'patio' table outside in the sun. What you're looking at is six pounds of romney fleece in lingerie bags, divided between two plastic totes sitting on a hand truck. (This is the same hand truck I'll use, when it gets cold, to carry wood in from the woodshed.) The whole mess is sitting in the kitchen, next to the kitchen sink. (In another aside, you can see the muslin that I've used to replace the kitchen cabinet doors. It worked perfectly - the cats go in and out of the cabinets at will and I haven't seen any mouse poop in ages.)

Why do I use plastic totes and a hand truck instead of just using the kitchen sink? Well - the plastic pipes under the kitchen sink happen to be just resting next to each other. They're not actually attached to each other. So when I dumped water one time, most of it ended up on the floor under the sink. Normal washing is OK, just not so much water at once. This is where the hand truck comes in. When it's time to dump, I wheel the whole mess to the porch, carry the totes outside and dump the water outside. Then I wheel it all back into the kitchen for the next round. Following blog reader, Alison's suggestion, I did two washes yesterday and three rinses. Each one soaks about 1/2 hour to 45 minutes. I started about 1 and wasn't finished at 5 when I had to prepare for my evening plans. (The math doesn't quite work out - maybe each round was longer than 45 minutes! I wasn't keeping track!) So I left the wool in the second rinse water overnight, and now it's sitting in the third rinse water.

I'm going to be brave and try to use the spin cycle on the washing machine to get most of the water out (I did that with an icelandic fleece last spring and ended up felting the whole thing, so I'm a little scared to use the washing machine for spinning fleece.) But if I don't spin out the water, it will take DAYS for the fleece to dry. I know this from experience.

Then, I think I'll wash my last remaining unwashed fleece that I got at Rhinebeck, also a romney. That may take the rest of the day, but if the machine spinning works it all may be dry today or tomorrow. Then I'll have something like six washed fleeces (fleec-i?), ready for carding through the cold, dark days of winter that feel so far away today. I hear there's zen somewhere in the washing, carding, spinning process, but I haven't found it yet.


  1. Do you have an older or new washing machine? The newer ones have different spin SPEEDS. I, too, felted a sweater even though I KNOW I washed it in cold . . . but my wise mom (Mama Pea) advised that it was probably the 'High' spin cycle I'd chosen that did it. Now I'm super careful that I choose the lowest spin cycle. Even tho the clothes come out, of course, wetter . . . they aren't felted!

    I think I'd be scared to try to "normal" spin cycle if you have an older machine, tho.

    P.S. The sweater I felted? Yeah, it was a friend's. Not even mine. Great.

  2. I did reduce the spin speed to Medium and the fleece is not really felted (is there such a thing?). I think I can use most/all of it, and it IS mostly dry now. I'm going to save the other fleece until spring, I think. Next time I'll try a lower spin speed than Medium.

  3. yeah,the mom dumped the water from our first canning this year into her sink, it leaked and $200 later she was back in business.. go ahead and dump it outside. :o)

    When you are felting, I was told not to spin, so you squeeze out as much water with your hands, then roll it in a towel to squeeze the water out several times. it may be more bother than worth with the size of spinning/squeezing that you're doing.