Thursday, 3 November 2011

Mucky sheep

Washing of the Jacobs fleeces has commenced. It's, um, pretty gross actually. Very grubby sheep! I'm washing in slow batches and carding as I go so that I don't end up with an enormous backlog.

I live in a 3rd floor walk-up in the centre of London, so fleece washing can be a bit of a production. I don't have the space to wash an entire fleece all at once, let alone three, so I work in small batches every so often. Once I've done the sorting and skirting outside in the communal garden (freaking out my neighbours at the same time), it all goes into bin bags until I'm ready to deal with it. 6 bin bags, each with half a fleece in, in the case of this project.

I wash fleece in my bathroom, so I only wash as much as I can soak in the bathtub. I'm very lucky that our hot water gets REALLY hot, so I don't need to do much heating or water hauling. I run the tub with pure hot water from the tap and a few generous squirts of Fairy Liquid to start things off. I don't run more than about 4 inches of water in - this stage is about loosening caked-on dirt and melting off the lanolin.

Once the stuff in the tub has had a good soak, I pull out a basin-full at a time and scour it. Slightly cooler water this time - I wash by hand, and thanks to a rubber-and-latex allergy I can't wear gloves when I'm scouring. More Fairy Liquid into the basin, and this time pretty much everything coming off is lanolin. If the water in the basin is clear enough that I can see the plug at the bottom, I call it good and rinse out the Fairy Liquid. Otherwise it gets a second wash.

After the fleece has been washed and rinsed out, it dries on my tapestry frame, which I've stretched cotton string across to make a flat rack.

As an aside, this tapestry frame? Best thing ever. My husband won it for me in an auction a few years back. I've never used it for tapestry weaving, since I really don't need another hobby, but I use it for fleece drying and embroidery, and when I'm doing neither of those things it stands upright behind my couch and does duty as a shawl rack. Couldn't do without it.

No comments: