Sunday, April 20, 2014

PROCESSING WOOL: PART 2

I finally moved on to washing the raw wool. The first bag was pretty clean. I wish I knew who I bought that particular bag from because that person takes immaculate care of their sheep. The second bag was pretty awful in terms of lanolin - maybe it has to do with the type of sheep??? I have no idea.

So... part one: pick through raw wool to get rid of particles like hay or poop. Part two: wash wool. 

I thought I ruined my first bag of wool because it looked felted when I removed it from the wash basin but once it dried it was absolutely fine. A few felted spots but not too bad.  The second bag I didn't poke at as much so it didn't felt at all but I have to admit that I really don't like the color. I wanted wool I could dye and the second batch doesn't seem suitable for that.

First bag of wool washed


I used a mesh bag to put the wool in. I learned quickly that I put too much wool into the mesh bag, should have just used a few ounces or else a larger bag. 

I filled the basin with water at a temp of 130 F and added the fleece scour solution.  Lastly I added my little bag of wool and watched as the water turned fro clear to a yucky yellow. The whole house smelled like sheep butt thanks to the steam coming off the water. That's ok though because I love sheep butt :-)

I turned the bag a couple times in the 30 minute soak and then transferred the wool to another basin full of clean water and fleece scour and turned once in 15 minutes. To finish I put the wool in a clean rinse basin and pushed it around a few times until I felt the wool was free of the fleece scour solution.



When done I just let the bag sit in the sink and drain out, when it drained as best as it could I dumped the wool onto a towel and let it sit until it was no longer wet. Once dry I pulled it apart. Now, I have no idea if pulling it apart will make it difficult to card since I am new to all of this but I'll soon find out.

Carding will be part three :)




Friday, April 11, 2014

I DID IT! I MADE MAPLE SYRUP!

After 30+ years thinking about it, I finally made some maple syrup. Don't laugh but here it is:
This came from a silver maple tree in the city so we get the added taste of pollution too. Haha!
I boiled down nearly 2 gallons of silver maple sap and what you see above is what I ended up with (there would have been a little more but I ruined the 2nd half I boiled by getting distracted on the telephone - note to self: don't answer phone when boiling sap). 
My husband drilling a hole for the spile.  If you look closely you can see the clear sap rushing out of the spile as soon as we put it into the hole that was drilled.
I don't really care about the quantity this time around I'm just excited that I was finally able to do it. The syrup came from a single tap of my sisters silver maple so if I were to tap that thing several times I'd probably have had a whole bottle. This year was just a little experiment to see how the whole process went, next year I'll be on the hunt for sugar maples and I'll extract much more.
It took one week to get the bag as full as you see it in the picture. It would run ok for a few hours in the day (mostly dripping) but it was just too cold of an early spring to really get going. On the right I'm boiling it down. Next year I'll do it outside.
Since I only had about 2 gallons to work with I boiled the sap inside the house on my electric stove. It took a couple hours but it was fun. Aiyana was the first to sample the end result and her response was "it needs more sugar." My husband was the second person to sample and all he said is "it sure tastes different than the high fructose corn syrup version." LOL! 
This is my disaster. I'm starting to think disasters are a common theme of my blog. LOL! Of my life. LOL! With every new adventure I start off with a disaster. I thought today was going to be perfect, I should have known it was too good to be true. Second batch of syrup smelled good but turned out yuck and I wasn't sure how to keep going with it to turn it into maple sugar. For the record, I've learned to love disasters... it helps me learn quickly what not to do next time ;) 
I'll be eating it (not the burnt stuff) over french toast this weekend :) 
Happy Friday Everyone!