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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

Looks great!  But what a pain.  I have made the same vow as Susan.  I still have bags of fleece to hand comb.  I got it all washed so it's not stinking up my townhome, but I am in no hurry to spend hours and hours combing and flicking when I can spin already processed and "purtified" fleece.

I wish you luck and commend your patience and perseverance.

Believe it or not, I am actually enjoying this, even though it is tedious.  But this little fleece - 13oz I think - is not too smelly, so that helps a great deal.  I rather enjoy the carding and combing aspect as well. BUT time will tell if I really enjoy that as much as I think I do.  I've got a lot I need to prepare myself.  You're right though, "purtified" fleece is oh so nice - lol! 

I'm with Wendy on processing the fleece, although not quite the perfectionist she is.  I actually enjoy picking (removing the VM), although yesterday I was very disappointed.  I bought 4 oz. of loose Romney locks dyed in 8 colors.  I was planning on blending to get different colors a la Deb Menz's Spinning in Color.  But!  The romney was full of VM (no problem except that it took so much time to pick it that I never did get around to the carding.  The real problem was the un-dissolved chunks of dye I found throughout the fiber...eeek!  Has anyone here found a similar problem?  I'm now afraid that if I spin this, when I wash to set the twist, the dye will run.

It is addicting, isn't it?  And I'm trying to be better about being so picky - lol. 

Why don't you try washing those locks before spinning them.  Shouldn't be too hard, and now that you have your "fiber" pans, you could do a few at a time.  Wouldn't nearly be the amount of work I've done.  Just a simple bath soak I'd think.

Yes, you are right I think.. I should soak them before I try spinning or even carding them...especially since the 6-inch clamps I need for my drumcarder wont' be delivered for at least another 2 days.  But now I'm wondering if I should continue and finish the picking (only got through 3 colors yesterday with 5 more to go) before I soak them....

Well you may want to play around with doing some of both, that way you won't get tired of doing just one thing.  And then you can give your body a rest too by standing some and sitting some. 

And are you sure it is chunks of dye and not just big chunks of overly dyed VM? 

there were some chunks of overly dyed VM for sure (and in one of the small batches I found an entire thistle head!); but also just chunks of undissolved dye.  I finished picking all 4 ounces yesterday (another 4 hours) and too late it occured to me that I was probably breathing in tiny dye particles...eeek.  I should have worn a mask!

Anywho, I may try soaking some or all of them today, depending on how hot it feels.

May 5 and 6 is the Maryland Sheep and Wool Fest. I'll be there helping out with the fleece sale. Our Guild is helping out again this year. I am hoping to find a fleece this time. I would like to try working on one although I do not have a drumcarder yet. I like the fine wools.

Oh, my THAT will be fun!  Enjoy yourself!

Hope you have a wonderful weekend, Elaine.

Color me Green with envy!  Oh, what fun!  Hope you have an awesome weekend with photos to share when you get home :))

Oh how I wish I were where you are!  Have fun and make sure to take lots of pictures.  You can process a fleece without a drumcarder, although you may want to check to see if your guild has one you could borrow. 

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