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I was wondering if anyone had information on exactly how one should go about washing individual locks of wool by hand.  I bought an Icelandic fleece last month that I am working on now, and my first attempt at washing them in tulle netting was less than satisfactory.  I sorted the fleece by staple length into three groups, and then even further by setting aside locks that were extremely curly at the butt or cut end.  I placed the locks individually on a length of netting, folded the sides in burrito style and sewed two lengths of long basting stitches to help keep them from shifting down and placed them in a cold water bath for days. 

closer view of basting sts.

cold water soak - almost a weeks worth if I remember correctly.  I didn't think these needed that long a soak, but life got in the way, so they soaked longer.

I pulled it out of the soak cycle, let it drip for a while, checked to make sure it was at room temperature before putting it in the scouring bath.  Temperature of scouring water was 140*, soaked for 15 minutes, not letting water temperature get below 120* so lanolin would not re-deposit back onto the wool. This is one of the wash cycles, using Unicorn Power Scour.  I washed them two more times and rinsed them twice, same water temperature each time.  I was not thrilled with how the tips looked, but thought I'd wait till they were dry and then see.  These are the cleaned and dry locks still in the netting.  I'm not too impressed with these.  Last night I was finally able to work with these supposed cleaned locks, they still feel a bit greasy to me. I thought Icelandic was not supposed to be too greasy, so, not sure what that is all about.  I want to try several things with this wool.  Separating the tog from the thel, and spinning them individually, but I also want to spin the two together. That's what I was attempting last night, on a drum carder I've borrowed from the guild.  I've not even done half of what I washed, and am already disappointed.  

Even with careful handling of the fibers while wet, the locks seem to have felted slightly.  And the tips do not want to seem to pick apart.  I like to do a very fine layer of fibers while drum carding, so I have started to flick the ends open.  It is helping some, but I was not thrilled with the batt.  Too many neps for me. 

So I got thinking maybe these locks need extra special handling and washing.  Maybe they need to be washed individually.  But just how does one go about doing that and not felting the lock?  Is there a special procedure?  I've not found anything on you tube demonstrating this technique, but then again, I've not used you tube that often so maybe I'm going about that all wrong. 

She is such a pretty little fleece, and I'd love to do it honor by washing and then spinning it into beautiful yarn, but feel I am ruining it.  Help!  I'd love some advice from others. 

Tags: Icelandic, carding, drum, felting, flicked, hand, lanolin, locks, washing

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Replies to This Discussion

I have Margaret Stove's "Spinning for Lace" DVD.  That article is right on about what she says.  Since I'm so late to this conversation, I figured I'd read them all before responding.  But if you hadn't found it, I would have recommended this method.  Glad you found it all written up.

Is this a video I should consider adding to my wish list?   

I haven't cleaned anymore since Friday night.  I was going to work on some more this afternoon, but we were called back down to the hospital, so maybe tomorrow???  Anyway, I tried three different detergents and two different bars of soap.  Here is a pic of the cleaned locks from Thursday on the top, and on the bottom are the locks I was getting ready to clean on Friday.

Below are the dry results.  The pencil divides the locks cleaned with Seventh Generation dish liquid and Kirk's Castile bar soap on the top left and on the right are locks cleaned with Dawn and Kirk's Castile bar soap. The bottom row of locks were done differently.  I laid the locks out on tulle netting, placed that on an old cake rack, put another cake rack on the top to hold the locks down under the hot water that I had added Seventh Generation Laundry detergent to.  I placed a sheet of foil over it to help hold the heat in and let it soak for 15 minutes.  When I took them out of the water, they were still fairly dirty, so I dumped the water and then made up a bath using Seventh Generation DISH liquid and then soaked them for another 15 minutes as above.  When the locks on the bottom were done soaking, I then ran them over a bar of Fels Naptha soap, rinsed twice in hot, hot, hot water and laid them out to dry.  Again I did not squeeze any of these locks to help keep them from felting. 

I wasn't sure which was going to work better than another, that is if one even would be better than another. On ravelry I've read tons of different opinions, and decided it was time to find out for myself.   I think all three detergents did a good job of cleaning the locks and removing the lanolin.  That said, I think that the Seventh Generation DISH liquid worked better than the Seventh Generation LAUNDRY detergent. I found both Seventh Generation detergents rinsed out a bit easier than the Dawn did.  I also found that the Seventh Generation Dish liquid combined with the Kirk's Castile bar soap has a softer feel to the hand when dry.  After I got done washing these I thought maybe this group of locks would not be as clean, but I think they are actually cleaner than the locks washed in Dawn/Kirk's Castile.  Here is a close-up of the Seventh Generation Dish Liquid/Kirk's Castile Bar Soap.

So, hopefully I'll get to experiment some more in the next few days.  I'll keep you posted.  Now off to find some ECOS to play around with. 

My Goodness, Wendy!  I don't think Margaret's Stove's video can teach you any more about washing locks...You've done at least as much as she demonstrates and actually far more and done it very well!  I have her video so I know.  She does show how to spin Merino (and New Zealand merino appears to be the only fiber she uses) lock by lock for very fine lace weight...if you are into lace weight, I guess it might be helpful in that regard.

Oh, ok!  I guess I didn't think you'd find washing locks on a video about spinning lace, but now it kind of makes sense.  And I do want to be able to spin much finer than I have so far, so.... .... ....  I will have to add this to my ever growing wish list - lol.  I have seen a very small portion of her explaining how to stretch the fiber out thereby keeping the elasticity in the yarn.  I do like visually seeing what people are talking about, I learn so much more that way.  So maybe I do need it for washing locks too! 

I just gave these nice clean locks a loving pat - they feel so nice - hehehe.  Now I can only hope they card up as nicely.  :o)   I swear if a muggle saw me patting these locks and petting the Easter Peeps roving I dyed, they'd have me in a straight jacket faster than you can say "Bob's your uncle!"  lol

Snort, giggle giggle...I pet and smoosh and even sniff clean fleece/locks as well.  Just a thought about Margaret Stove's way of spinning:  She spins lock by lock, tip first.  the other day on Ravlery there was discussion related to this and while many people follow this method, Abby F (Respect the Spindle) and Beth Smith (owner of The Spinning Loft) spin from the butt end of the lock.  I don't have enough experience to have a preference; just thought it was interesting that the "experts" disagree on the method.

As in knitting, there are always more than one way to skin a cat, so as long as your yarn looks like you want it, and plays well when knitting, crocheting or weaving (whatever you preference), IMHO you have done fine.  If experts disagree, than so can I.

Beverly - LOL -  nothing better than smelling clean fleece/locks (well maybe - chocolate, roses, clean babies, etc hehehe!)  I too find myself burying my nose in fibers. 

We must be twins separated at birth - the love of Maine (only you were lucky enough to actually live there), the love of cleaning filthy dirty fleece, dyeing, spinning, knitting, wacky senses of humor, yes we must be twins - lol! 

I was taught to spin from the butt end as well, but I see no reason why you cannot spin from the tip.  The only thing I would wonder about doing it that way though would be spinning against the scales of the fiber.  Roughing them up as opposed to smoothing them down.  And then again, maybe it depends on what you're spinning for and maybe the fiber?  Hmmmmm, oh darn!  I guess we'll just have to do another experiment... ... ... lol.

As Susan said, there is more than one way to skin a cat. 

Yes, Wendy, I think we are very much kindred souls :))

And that spinning from the tip...that's exactly what Abby and Beth were saying, that it would be spinning against the scales of the fiber...I don't know what Margaret Stove's reasoning is behind spinning from the tip, but I'm sure she does have a good reason for doing so...it may even be on her video and I simply missed it.

Even though I learned a few things from Margaret Stove, I found her narrative a bit hart to follow... partly because of her heavy accent (which I loved BTW), but it distracted me from the information being related. 

Yes, Susan, you certainly can :))  Way back, a whole year ago...LOL...I read everything and watched every video I could find about spinning...and my head was spinning from information overload!  I have learned that there is more than one way to do anything related to spinning and an "expert's" opinion, is just that, an opinion...and we all have our own opinions!

Very true, Beverly, and when such famous and accomplished spinners as these have diametrically opposing views, why shouldn't we all.  I met another spinner at a recent Artisan Fair... during the fair, we stopped to chat for a while.  She looked at my yarn that I had taken along for viewing, and loved it.  Said that I did such "pretty" yarns... which she called prettier than her yarns.  I then asked her how long she had been spinning... her answer 15 years.  I nearly fell out of my chair... I feel like a newbie next to someone like this, but after looking at her yarns, I like mine better too. 

There goes Susan, again! Trying to convince us she is a newbie! Tee hee!

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