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My First Time Skirting and Washing A Fleece

By: Missy B

If you remember, a few months ago I went to a nearby farm to observe sheep shearing and to pick up a couple of fleeces. Well, I finally decided to wash a small batch of wool since it’s the first sunny day in weeks and I wanted to take advantage of it so I could dry the wool outside. It’s really not that hard and involves just a few steps and a bit of waiting.

Skirting the FleeceI pulled out some dirty wool and did a bit more skirting (removing manure tags and big matted pieces, twigs, grass). I’ve never done this before so I wasn’t sure how much to take out and what would wash out.┬áThis fleece was pretty nice except for about 2 inches from the outside there was a layer of muck matted in and I was hoping it would wash out. It’s didn’t fully come clean there and I ended up cutting that part out. Next time I’ll just cut it out before I wash.

I put the dirty wool into a mesh laundry bag and filled the tub with a few inches of the hottest water from the tap and added a big pot full of boiling water too. It has to be super hot to melt away the lanolin. I put in about half a cup of seventh generation dishwashing liquid after the tub was full so it didn’t get too sudsy. I then laid in the laundry bag full of wool and gently poked it down into the hot water with a wooden spoon. Then I waited 20 min. You don’t want to let the water cool to much or the lanolin will harden again and cause problems.

Soaking WoolI drained the water out of the tub and simply rolled the mesh bag up and gently squeezed out excess water. I picked up the roll and stuck it in a plastic bin while I refilled the tub again for the second wash with detergent and a pot of boiling water for extra heat. Another 20 minutes, drain, roll, squeeze, then I filled up again for a rinse. I would have liked to put in some white vinegar, but we were out except for what I had diluted in my cleaning spray bottle I keep, which wasn’t much, but I poured that in anyway. I skipped the boiling water and just used as hot as I could from the tap. 20 minutes. Drain. One more rinse, just water, 20 minutes. Drain. Roll. Gently squeeze.

Drying Wool After WashingI then took the bag of wet wool outside and put it out to dry on the drying rack I rigged up. I used a pet pen raised up on logs so the air can circulate. This pic doesn’t show it, but I ended up taking the end of the gate and laying it back over the top of the wool sandwiching it in between so it didn’t blow away. It was out in the sun about 5-6 hours when I went to check on it. It was almost dry, just a few damp spots. Most of which was the matted layer I mentioned earlier and cut out. Well the sun was gone from this spot now so I brought the wool inside to finish drying and will back it up in a plastic bag with holes punched in it to breath till I get to carding it. I think it could actually be spun without carding, which I might test out, but there are still some tiny bits of grass here and there that I think carding will get rid of.

Washing and Drying a FleeceFor $10 a fleece and a little effort it can’t be beat. I’ve barely made a dent in the big bag with the two fleeces in it and this wool I just cleaned will keep me busy for a while. Time to break out the spinning wheel! Also, I’m looking forward to experimenting with natural dyes like black beans and beets!

Category: Animals, Arts & Crafts, DIY Projects, How-To, The Transplants

Comments (1)

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  1. Birdy says:

    Oh gosh, that looks like so much fun to work with. I can’t wait to see what colors you come up with.

    Thanks for sharing!

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