Kevin is away this week visiting his family, and I've been catching up on crafts which have the potential to be annoying when experienced up close.
I finished a dress which has been in pieces in the living room for weeks (possibly, the dress in pieces was just as annoying as the noise of the sewing machine, but let's attribute my procrastinating to being considerate about noise, not inconsiderate about piles, shall we?).
And I accidentally expanded my spinning into the area of raw fleece:
Here's what happened: Jennsquared and I were at spinning on Sunday, and one of the other women had 2 fleeces from her neighbor, for sale for $10 each. Picking a fleece has always sounded like an arcane process--and one where I could easily make an expensive mistake, either in selection or in overestimating my own interest in fiber prep--so I've stayed away from buying raw fleece. On the other hand, $10 seemed like a good way to test the whole process out, especially once Jensquared and I decided to share a fleece. I'm totally willing to throw away $5... I mean, invest $5 in a learning experience.
So we bought one of the fleeces (from a Finnsheep named Holly) and divided it in half. Unfolding it, it was immediately clear that I needed to get it at least partly clean before it alarmed Kevin, so I ended up washing it Sunday evening. I've never paid much attention to how one might wash a fleece, so I looked online and found some directions that seemed easy enough, even for me: I loosely filled mesh laundry bags with fleece, then soaked the bags in the hottest tap water I could get, to get out the worst of the dirt/lanolin/manure. (Hmm, maybe I should get new laundry bags?) I changed the water a couple of times for each batch, till the water seemed merely dirty, rather than completely gross.
I tried washing one batch with dish soap, but it still seemed greasy, so I googled some more, and found a site that recommended washing with laundry detergent in the washer--filling the washer with the hottest water possible, soaking for 20 minutes, the draining and spinning (without letting the washer agitate at all!), then filling the washer again, soaking for 5 minutes and draining/spinning (repeating the 5 minute rinse as needed till the water was clear).
I tried that, and found that the wool seemed nearly clean--so I did it a second time (including the 20 minute soak and 5 minute rinse), and was happy with the wool. Currently, it's spread out on towels in the living room, and it smells like laundered sheep, instead of sheep who've been camping. Progress!
When Jennsquared and I divided the fleece, we each got about 3 lbs. After washing and drying, I had about 2 lbs left (I also threw away some clumps that were especially full of vegetable matter).
I already had hand carders, so I've carded about 3 ounces of it, thanks to more googling and youtubing. So far, it's kind of fun--and a bit like blocking lace, since you start with a clumpy blob and end up with everything aligned and neat--but talk to me again in 29 more ounces!