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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. 

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Replies to This Discussion

I think it is important that when you find a seller who does this, not only is it important to not buy from them anymore, but also to alert others to your experience so the seller cannot profit from poor quality items. Though I do believe that you should first contact the seller about the problem and give them the opportunity to correct their error. I think that is the only way to "regulate" these sellers.

Cheryl, I considered doing just that, but I've had this fiber for about a year and I wondered about the Statue of Limitations on complaints...LOL.  This is the problem with having a can't use it all the minute you get it!

I checked my stash notes yesterday, Cheryl. after my first reply to you re SOL on fiber complaints...I purchased this floof in November 2011.  Do you think that is too long ago to "complain" (I am not good at confrontation)?  I would have to say something like, "I just thought I would let you know that..."

No, I don't think it is too late to mention. The way you plan to start it is the perfect way to start it. When you purchase something like fiber, it often sits in your stash a while before using. So I think an FYI complaint is nice. If you are a seller who hasn't been using your own product, you should learn about your product. If customers don't tell you, you don't know your product isn't the best it should be. But then I'm a big believer in knowing your product. If the seller can't take constructive criticism, then the seller shouldn't be in the business.

Sellers SHOULD know what they are selling... and if it isn't up to the customers' expectations, they should know that too... and who else is going to tell them...

Thanks Cheryl (and Susan).  I will do this just as soon as I can summon up some courage...LOL.

Hey, I am feeling particularily ornery today, want me to do it? 


ETA - I think that is the perfect beginning though.

Sending courage your way!

I did get some locks that had been lightly washed and then dyed.  When I went to spin them after just opening up the locks, I had bits of color that stuck to  my fingers.  Not a lot, but some.  But then I washed to set the twist, all of the excess rinsed away, but left plenty on the fiber... a second rinse was clear.

Well that is good. 

Susan, I hope I am as lucky as you were!

I hope so too!


ETA:  I did get one roving a couple of years ago that was simply gorgeous and from what I was told was a reputable vendor (it was in a gift basket)... anyway, I spun it up and it was lovely.  Then when I blocked it, it bled so badly that I had to wash it and rinse it several time, and finally after two additional vinegar baths, it seemed to have stopped bleeding... I gifted it to a friend of mine who wanted to try a homespun merino yarn, and I warned her that it might keep bleeding... she never said whether it did or not.


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