apart the fleece and separate the parts you want to clean.
from South House Farm in Lytchett Matravers, Dorset, England. There is a sample of my first yarn spun from this fleece at Yarn Art
the parts I'm not going to start cleaning yet into a gunny sack. I will
leave it out in the rain and sun and wind.Washing in soap or detergent
the parts you want to
a day in water and soap,
Then soak two or
three more times in
plain water to rinse out the soap.
Hang on the line
to dry. More
rain, sun and wind here will help give the wool a soft, comfortable
some yarn spun out of the fleece. I picked up some dark red flowers
around the area and steeped them in water in the slow cooker for a day.
Although the dye looks dark here, the yarn turned out a pale gold. I
did not use any mordant.
|Washing a fleece in detergent is a modern practice. Traditionally,
fleece were washed by "suint fermentation", which means keeping the
fleece in water and letting whatever microbes were in the air or the fleece clean it by eating it (otherwise called fermenting) and then rinsing it out. I
have half the fleece in such a fermentation to see how it works. I added some fermenting liquid (yeast starter for making ale) I happened to have on hand.|
Here is half of the
fleece after it
has been sitting in water for a couple weeks. It is beginning to smell
like a barn.
The gray at the bottom is the fleece
or being dyed by the metal that is showing in the chipped enamel. I
think it must have iron in it, as there is rust showing around the
chips. This doesn't bother me one way or another. I had read that iron
can be used in dyeing wool and I have a piece of iron in the garage
that I had thought I might use to dye something that I made with the
wool later. I had decided I did not want to "dye in the wool" for now,
so the fact that this fleece is being dyed by the iron in the tub is
just as interesting happenstance to me.
Here is the
fermentation tub with the
improvised airlock I have provided for it.
is a minor
problem with this setup in that bugs, particularly the sow bug or wood
louse, are able to come and go apparently as they please in and out of
the tub. I suppose the, not to put too fine a point on it, fermenting
feces is a delectable treat for them. It doesn't bother the washing
process but if they slip and fall they can drown. I don't like
killing anything unnecessarily so I want to move the tub to some other
location where it will not be such an "attractive nuisance" to the
local bug population.
One month later
Here is my suint-fermented fleece
month. There is a thin layer of oily stuff developing on the top.
supposed to skim it off the top, not mix it back in. I just was so
excited to see it there. I imagine it is lanolin. I had wondered if
there were any way to extract the lanolin from the fleece, now I know.|
|Here is the fleece a few weeks later and this time I remembered to skim the oil off instead of mix it back in.|
Next time I'll just pour the water out and not go through all this trouble with skimming. Once the grease has been pulled out of the fleece it is easy to pour out.
silver-gray fleece. Compare to the white fleece above. I don't know
what dyed it or if I could repeat it, but it looks lovely. I shall
start to rinse it out.
the silver-gray faded after the fleece had dried, returning to mostly
white with a few undertones. Still, very nice. And clean.
I may try to dye it, using plants I actually know this time. (
I wonder if you could use this suint-fermentations technique of
cleaning by culture for ordinary laundry, like the old laundry
detergent with enzymes? See my page at https://sites.google.com/site/windintheroses/suint_laundry as I answer this question.)