Thursday, June 12, 2008

Washing fleece and other stuff

First, some yarn. "Obscure Rainbow" merino/bamboo from Traci Bunkers. Very, very nice. I can't decide whether to settle for a small shoulder shawl, or a scarf, or to quietly remove some more from stock before Woolfest and go for something a bit bigger. H'mm.


Now, washing fleece. I've been, as I said, using the Wool wash programme on my washing machine to wash fleece, very successfully. Wendy has some merino to deal with, and I urged caution.

Merino is one of those fleeces that is slightly different, and not just in its fineness. It has a lot of what I believe is a form of wax in it, and is quite difficult to scour, especially given its tendency to felt. It has to be washed in very hot water, to avoid the stickiness Wendy reports. Margaret Stove advocates washing it lock by lock by hand, as does Sue McNiven for cormo which is not dissimilar.

I don't do lace weight yarns, and have never felt that I needed to go quite so far. I would wash merino by hand, sure, but I would fill a sink with really hot water, rather more than hand hot, with a good squirt of washing up liquid added after running the water to minimise foam. Then gently push in the locks so they were completely submerged, and leave until the water had cooled so that I could just manage to remove the plug, but not let it go cold. If the fleece didn't feel clean enough, I would refill the sink, not adding any more soap, and soak again. Then do this at least once more to rinse. At no time would I (really and truly!) prod, poke or agitate the fibre in any way. Honest......

Wensleydale is another, funnily enough, and I believe Teeswater as well (it seems logical) that also have a lot of wax. I haven't tried it in the machine, but I do have some that I could have a go with. There wouldn't be the felting problem, but it might end up sticky.

If I am hand washing any fleece, I would follow the procedure above, but without the water being quite so hot, and I wouldn't worry anywhere near so much about felting. As long as you don't subject the fleece to extremes of temperature, or bash it about too much, it will be fine. And obviously, the newer front loaders are gentle enough which is a real blessing. Could revolutionise my life!

OK, so whingeing does do the trick, and our SOAR confirmations did arrive yesterday afternoon. We both got in to Workshop and Retreat, me with Abby Franquemont, the DSM with Deb Menz. What a relief!

The Coven is gathering here tonight and should be arriving very soon; and I have AH tomorrow, with at least one complete beginner. It is very exciting how many people are wanting to learn to spin at the moment.

And finally - just time for a gratuitous cat photo. See how large some of them are getting.....



beadlizard said...

Oh, I'm glad you got your SOAR classes! Remember my IOU for you two...

I wash Merino Margaret's way, especially if I'm going to dye it. If you don't remove all the wax before dyeing, you end up creating a stearate, which is really unpleasant and permanent. I use super hot water, flick the locks first, then swoosh one end, then the other in hot-hot-hot water. It's the only fleece I have to wear rubber gloves to wash because of the heat.

I never let the water cool because the wax can harden on top and then goo all over the locks as I try to lift them out. I use HOT water through the whole process, including the rinses.

I agree that Wensleydale can be rather odd to wash, and the really long super curly ones are another that I wash lock by lock. For me, anyway, it's faster than trying to untangle the mess if I wash a batch at a time.

The cats look charming. Are they still rambunctious?

Ruth S. said...

Carol, I have a solution for you on the HOT water -- use a sink plunger! I discovered this while using Judith McKenzie-McCuin's yarn abuse. I kept unplugging the stopper... and then went "Hey, I could use this!"

I'm so glad to see you at SOAR!! wheeeee

Wendy said...

Many thanks for all the helpful comments, my merino has finally dried and is still pretty stick so I will bin that and start afresh. I will have one more go and that is with a very hot wash and rinse, it makes sense that the grease would recongeal again with cooler water. Hope for good results this time. Wendy.