Exploring the world of fiber, one draft at a time

My posting can be as frequent or infrequent as my spinning, so be as patient as that fiber, sitting in my stash.

Friday, October 17, 2003

In Hot Water...

because I finally found my big net washing bags for washing fleece. I just woke up yesterday morning and postively remembered where I had put them...piffle on this loss of short term memory thing. It only took a whole week for the shuffling in my mind to get done and the results pop out...the bags are in the cupboard by the sink, the one I seldom open because it is full of bottles of homemade wine, and seldom used small kitchen appliances. Oh well, it seemed like a good place to store them originally.

I actually do not use the bags for washing, only for spinning the wet fleece in the washer. I have a deep kitchen sink, and I just fill both sides with hot soapy water and wash the fleece in that. First dip is usually very quick, it gets off most of the crud and I don't want the fleece soaking too long in that. The next several rinses will vary in time, depending on how dirty the fleece seems. If the water is clear, that is the last rinse. It then goes in the mesh bag, and is spun briefly in the washer to get as much water as possible out of it.

I am sure there would be other ways to wash fleece. I just have my routine, and like to do it that way. I have found washing fleece is one of the things I like to do in the morning, the hot water feels so good on my hands. I absolutely can not knit in the mornings, my fingers are too stiff. I have very fond memories of my grandmother, always awake before me, peacefully knitting until the rest of the household awoke. My knitting is more likely to be after the household is to bed for the night.

But I digress.

Yesterday I washed a part of a small shetland fleece. I had pulled part of it to be washed in locks and part was hand picked apart. I washed the hand picked part yesterday. It turned into a very lovely white fleece. I think I will try using my small handcombs on it, it seems that it will be nubby if I card it. As I posted on one group, it was lovely to be smelling the 'wet sheepie' again.

This morning I washed locks. I had flicked some cormo locks previously (using a metal tooth dog comb) and yesterday I flicked the shetland locks. I managed to get both sets of locks washed this morning before leaving for work (and no I don't get up at O dark thirty-I work second shift) Once I get everything set up, I like to wash as many locks as possible, it is a bit of a mess while doing it.

Just a bit of how-to. I heat a big pot of water on the stove to suppliment my tap water. I use two crock pots (these are set aside for dyeing) One I just use the insert part, as the washing pot and the second one is an older model, that is more like a crock that sits on a hot plate. I use this for the rinsing pot and do not have to change that water very much. The hot plate keeps the water very hot. The washing one gets new hot water about every dozen locks. The procedure is grab a fingerful bunch of locks, dunk them in the washing pot, turn and dunk again. Then I pass the lock over a bar of soap (I like using those small bars one gets at hotels, it is just the right size to hold) pressing the lock on the soap with my thumb. It's not really a scrubbing motion, just a gentle rubbing. Flip and do the other end of the lock. The lock is rinsed in the washing water and then it is dunked in the very hot rinse water, flipped and dunked again. I lay the lock on a towel, no squeezing, just letting the towel soak up the moisture. When the towel is full, I lay another towel on top. Eventually I take all of the locks and put them on the sweater mesh dryers.

I timed myself this morning and in 2 1/2 hours I washed seven dozen locks of cormo and 4 dozen locks of shetland. That is alot of yardage, when spun fine (the only reason I wash locks in the first place).

It was fun to see the wide wavy crimp on the shetland still show up, even when wet. The other thing that amazed me, was how rapidly the shetland seemed to be drying. It was washed last and was starting to puff up, a sign that it was drying. The cormo still looked completely flat. I know from experience that they will eventually dry and puff up, but at this point it is hard to believe.

I am taking part in an exchange for spinning 'froghair' that is, spinning as fine as possible. I will be using these locks next weekend, when I spin for a demo, since the wheel I like to use for demos, is set up with a lace flyer. So now I have three shoe boxes full of locks ready to spin.


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