Wednesday, February 19, 2014

RAW FLEECE: PART ONE

I admit it, I'm a fiber hoarder.

I'm also a book hoarder, a yarn hoarder, a soap supply hoarder, a card supply hoarder and... ok, you get the point. 

Problem with raw fiber is you really can't hoard it for very long or else the moths move in so... after stashing this stuff away for nearly a year I decided it was time to deal with it.


Now... just in case you didn't know, this is my first time working with raw wool. I've been spinning fiber for a few years and decided last year while shopping around at the Shepherd's Harvest Festival that it was time to learn to process wool on my own.  It's fun buying fibers that are already prepared for you but I think doing it all myself will give me a whole new appreciation for sheep.  

Luckily, this batch didn't have any moths fluttering around inside.  Being the squeamish person that I am I begged Maya to take the bag outside and inspect it before I'd even touch it.  Yay! No moths! In fact, the wool had lost most of its sheepy smell and took on the scent of our house and that's nice, now I'm just working on picking out the poopy parts, which is called "skirting the fleece".  This batch of wool isn't very dirty so I'm thinking it was cleaned up pretty good before they sold it to me but it still needs to be plucked over, the short fibers removed and then washed to get rid of most of the lanolin. So when I call this "raw wool" it isn't anywhere near as raw as the stuff that would come straight from the skirting table right after the sheep is shorn.

Once I'm done picking through this batch I'll separate out the good stuff and then wash, card and dye it.  Stay tuned :D

Anyone reading this post ever process raw wool? Tell me about it! I want to know what your experience was like. 

6 comments:

Teresa Robeson said...

A friend of mine who raises a couple of sheep per year for food gave me a bag of wool they'd sheared. I had good intentions of trying to spin it, but got so busy and lazy that after having it for a year (and it was really dirty, unlike yours), I just gave the bag to hubby to compost in the garden. So, it wasn't totally wasted, but I just never got around to working with it.

Epicure68 said...

I think it's so cool that you're processing wool (you thought I was going to say that you're a hoarder, didn't you? ;D )

Can't wait to see what it looks like once you're finished with it. It sounds like a lot of work, and it gives me a better appreciation for why wool costs as much as it does.

Michelle said...

Monica,

I never realized how time consuming it would be to pick through the fiber. I looked at some YouTube videos and most people just throw it in the wash right away, I'm a little OCD about cleaning it out first. LOL!

Teresa,

I have one bag like the one that was given to you. VERY greasy and full of poopy matter. Not looking forward to that bunch.

Longtime Traveller said...

I did this a couple of years ago too. My fleece wasn't to bad either, but I think it matter who you buy from and how well the fleece was cared for while still on the sheep!

I didn't invest too much energy in cleaning the really dirty parts. Way too gross. I did however put those pieces in a suet feeder and hung it for the birds to use in their nests. It was gone in no time.

The rest I washed in lukewarm water & Dawn and then spin-dried in a cheap salad spinner from Ikea.

I loved the finished product. The wool was so soft I almost didn't want to spin it. And the dingy, yellowish fleece became beautiful snowy white wool.

Michelle said...

Thank you so much Longtime Traveller for sharing your experience with wool!! I wondered why one bag seemed so clean compared to another but you are right, I bought them from two different farmers. Thanks for the info... I'll look for the clean sheep wool next time I'm at the Shepherd's Harvest because the one batch I have, the one I haven't wanted to touch yet, is so filthy I wondered where the sheep have been. Yuck! It will take like three washings.

Great idea about putting the wool in a suet feeder. Thank you! I'm going to do that. You've made me want to get busy and wash it. I left it sitting on my table this whole week, gotta get it done :)

Thank you for stopping by my blog to share your thoughts, I appreciate it.

meemsnyc said...

Wow! That is so cool!