Finally learned about washing fleece

This fleece is pretty clean but still has quite a bit of lanolin left in it. It was washed in cold water and wool wash detergent and rinsed with vinegar, some time ago. This got rid of the poo and the piss but not the lanolin.

It’s been in my wool room for years. Because I don’t know what to do with it. It’s too greasy to card, to spin, to knit or to wear. I should know because I made this shawl from a fleece just like this one last year:

and I never wear it. Having greasy wool touch your skin is ewww

But I visited a friend today and she explained how she washes the grease from a fleece and I came home and within the hour the porch looked like this:

Squeeky clean, truely white fleece. Inside looked like this:

The washing station.

This is the process of washing a fleece, for non-fine wools:

  1. fill the big green dyeing pan with hothotHOT water. Put it on stove, just to keep it warm.
  2. fill the small blue bucket with hothotHOT water and lots of washing up liquid.
  3. put on sturdy dishwashing gloves. The sort that allows you to put your hands in scolding water.
  4. grab a handfull of fibre. I took about the size of an A4 and 10 cm high. Dunk it in the hot soapy water. Swish around.
  5. take it out of the soapy water and wring it (this fleece doesn’t felt so I can manhandle it. But most fleeces are ok with this treatment. Not the fine fleece such as Merino and Shetland though) and put it into the clean water in the pan.
  6. Grab another piece of wool and repeat: dunk in soapy water, swish, wring, put in pan.
  7. By now the liquid in the blue vessel is too dirty to use one fresh fleece. Put it into the white bucket. Fill the blue bucket with new really hot water and soap.
  8. grab new handful of fleece and put it in the white bucket, to presoak. Swish around, wring the water from the wool and put it into the fresh soapy water of the blue bucket.
  9. Now grab a new handful of fleece and put it in the white bucket.
  10. wash the wool that’s in the blue bucket, put it in the pan.
  11. transfer wool from white into blue bucket. Put new wool in white bucket. Wash what’s in the blue bucket and transfer it to the pan. Carry on like this -remember to change the water in the blue bucket every few washes- until the pan is full enough. Its purpose is to rinse the wool so if it gets too full or the water too dirty or the water is no longer HOT stop your routine. Time for the yellow bucket.
  12. fill the yellow bucket with hothotHOT water. Its purpose is for rinsing. Transfer wool from pan to bucket and swish wool around. The water should be pretty clear. Just rinsing off the last bits of soap.
  13. Bring an empty bucket to the centrifuge and place it under its … faucet(?). Take yellow bucket of wool to the centrifuge. Put still hot wool in centrifuge. Spin till nearly dry.
  14. Put damp wool onto a rack for drying. I used the clothesthingy. Don’t handle the wool too much. It’s cooling down and prone to felting. Just spread it out and let it be.
  15. ooooh. aaah. white wool! no grease! Ready for further fiber prep (carding perhaps?) and spinning

The blue bucket with fresh soapy water. Wool is presoaking in the white bucket. Sturdy yellow gloves.

This is the pan I usually use for dyeing. The light indicates the stove top is on, on moderate heat. Just enough to keep this water 68 degrees celsius or over

And I have a cross stitch of a Gaai over the stove. It’s mandatory for living in little wooden gnome cabins.

Bringing the pan to the sink for wool transfer into the yellow bucket. That’s how dirty the blue bucket gets, it was just about time to change the water. You can see that the water in the green pan is fairly clear, you can see to the bottom. Just a bit of soap residu on top. All the grease and left over dirt stayed behind in the hot soapy water.

Transfer of the hot wet wool into the yellow bucket was successful.

17. bring extra towels for strategic placement on spontaneous occurring puddles. It happens, especially in gnome cabins.

Next, I brought the bucket with wool to the centrifuge. Put hot wool into centrifuge still wearing gloves.

The wool was so wet that the centrifuge drained even before I turned it on. (Always keep a towel near the centrifuge).

Now it’s evening and the buckets are still on the kitchen counters. In the middle of the room is the clothes drying rack, covered in wool. On the coffee table there’s wool spread out. And upstairs the guest bed is covered in wool.

It smells delicious here! Clean wool and soap, hmmmm. Smells like spinning spirit!


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