Posted by: bschutzgruber | May 28, 2020

“It’s free….do you want it?”

2017
“It’s free….do you want it?”
A friend with Romney sheep said those 6 little words to me. Though I am not a spinner, MaryAnn knew I did wet felting and thought I’d a have some fun playing with a fleece she had. “FOR SURE!!” was my reply. I took the bag home and hung it up in the garage.

2020
Three years later…the bag is still hanging in the garage unopened.
With the Covid-19 pandemic ‘stay-at-home’ order shutting everything down in March I thought to myself I’ll use this quarantine time to FINALLY process the fleece. Well March came and went with snow and freezing temperatures so working with water outside or even in the garage is not going to happen.

Then April came and went with its the rollercoaster of weather.

Now it’s the month of May which has been a ‘3 seasons-in-one’ kind of month!
Finally Spring?
Nope, back to snow.  
Finally Spring?
Close but it’s rain and still cold.

And then, in this final week, Mother Nature flipped a switch and it’s summer with temperatures in the mid to upper 80’sF (26-30C). Time to take down the bag and have a look inside. Even though MaryAnn had said the fleece should be OK after all this time I was not sure what I would find. I am glad to report it was not nearly as scary as I had feared. Yes it was really grungy and dirty but it did not smell rancid! I went through my notes, watched a couple of YouTube videos and organized what I’d need.

The water after the first soak/wash was pretty disgusting.

But the second wash was noticeably better.

After one more wash and 2 rinses the water was clear!

I’m using window screens on sawhorses for my drying racks.

One batch down…LOTS more to go!

It takes 6 gallons of hot water to fill the tub for each wash and rinse so I am getting an upper body and core muscle workout with multiple bucket trips from the laundry room sink to the tub outside. At least emptying the tub each time is easier as I’m using a drill pump to drain out the water.

At this point I’ve done about 1/4 of the bag and am getting the hang of it. 

Some of the wool has washed up very nicely but some of it needs to be washed a few more times as there’s still some dirt embedded in the locks and I want to see if the discoloration that’s there will come out. 

After it’s all washed and dried I still need to pick and card it to remove all the plant debris that’s still there. Once that is done I’ll have to see how it felts up. It would be great have an end product that is a ‘back-to-back’ (sheep’s back to my back) wearable item.

“It’s free….do you want it?”
Six simple words that bring adventure indeed!


Responses

  1. You are very lucky with your wool! I haven’t had the pleasure of washing fleece. People don’t realise how much water is used during processing and felting. I recycle the water on my garden. A little bit of soap is not going to kill the plants, but maybe some bugs. If you have anything left in the wool, it might come out during carding and you most likely don’t need to wash it again as it will get washed when you felt with it and if you dye it. 🙂


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