Saturday, 10 September 2011

washing wool on a rainy day

so a nice lady at work gave me a steaming bag of Herdwick which I was very excited about. I checked out a few websites for advice on washing fleece. The more I read the more mixed up I got (wash HOT, wash COLD) but the gist seemed to be don't agitate the wool (it gets upset), don't rinse in water colder than the wash water and don't keep any bits that you wouldn't want to spin.
Above - raw Herdwick fleece; Below: washing in shampoo in the bath
A happy afternoon was spent picking out poo and spiders (or giant ticks?) then washing in tea tree shampoo (which I thought might make it smell a little less sheepy). In order to get enough hot water for each wash and 2 rinses I had a big pan on the stove for about 5 hours (taking woman hours of labour and energy expenditure into account I calculate this wool will be worth more than Saffron).

So the other big No No is the washing machine worst luck, so spinning involved  swinging a mesh bag of wet wool around my head like a cowgirl. In the rain. With Marigolds. The neighbours probably think I am a fetishist of some kind.
Spin cycle Calamity Jane style

Try not to let go
Then I spread it out on an old sheet and waited for it to dry....and waited....and waited...and smelled of wet sheep for days. Our friend Elvis popped round for a sniff and seemed to approve. I wonder if a blanket made from ripe Herdwick would make a dog happy.
Clean wool (well, cleaner wool)

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