Posts Tagged ‘fiber prep’

Washing raw fleeces

Well, in December I actually bought a raw fleece. A shetland fleece from a wether name Kalus who lives near Reno, NV.

Here’s a picture of Kalus:

Kalus a shetland

The shepherdess had cold-water washed/soaked the fleece. It arrived in kind of a jumble:

Kalus shetland fleece

Well, Shetlands don’t have much lanolin, and this fleece smells nice and sheepy. Not stinky. The fleece doesn’t seem dirty as such (probably due to the cold-water soak/wash), but there is what seems to me (with my zero experience) to be a moderate amount of VM (Vegetable Matter) in the fleece.

I bought some John Day hand carders and am trying to learn how to hand card rolags. The main problem I’m having is that even though a fair amount of VM falls out when I hand pick some fleece and then even some more falls out when I card it, there is some remaining in the carded rolags and when I spin it (I have only done a few rolags, and spun even fewer…just as a test/sample), the VM seems to stick in the fleece and I have to slow down to pick it out. Just slows down the spinning and makes it less efficient and flowing.

So, after reading a bit in the Ravelry forums, someone gave me the idea that washing the lanolin completely out (i.e. a hot washing/scouring) might help the VM come out more easily. Maybe it’s staying in because it’s sticking to the lanolin.

So I have come to the idea to wash up a bit of this fleece, and hand card and spin that and see if it works out better for me. Here are some good articles on hand scouring/washing fleece that I am saving for my reference:

Washing &  Spinning Cormo Locks and Other Fine Wools by Beth Smith at KnittySpin

unicorn fiber power scour versus dawn in raw fleece washing from sock prØn’s blog

Washing Fleeces: How Not to Felt Your Fleeces by Gwen Powell

In the meantime, I’ve also bought a small cormo lambs fleece that is also waiting to be washed and processed. I keep seeing more fleeces I want to buy, but until I get these two done, I’m telling myself, “No!” Although I have reserved 2 fleeces for March 2010 by sponsoring 2 of the sheep at Little Meadows Farm: Kira (a Jacob) and Geode (a Corriedale/Jacob cross).


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