Sunday, August 24, 2008

Spinning step 1 - Scouring Wool

I've been looking forward to this project for a while, and believe it or not opening our new retail store has given me free time during the day - time when I am stuck sitting at the store with nothing to do. Time I could be working on my spinning! So I went out to the garage where Mom's wool has been airing out on a screen for a month or more - it was pretty rank! I spent a bit of time pulling off the poopy bits.

The wool that is left looks good, but it has a lot of dirt in it. Sheep also have a natural lanolin on their wool so it feels greasy. Removing the dirt and grease is called 'scouring' the wool. Luckily, one of the ladies in the llama club who has many years of spinning experience invited me to her house for a lesson in scouring and beginning spinning, so I think I know what to do!

So I put a nice square foot of it in a laundry bag. Then I filled the kitchen sink with HOT water, a splash of Dawn, and some Boraxo.

Mixed it all together and then gently set the wool in the hot soapy water.

No rubbing, I just pressed it down into the water. Rubbing will turn it into felt. I left it to soak for 20 minutes.

Eww, that water is disgusting! Who would think that wool was that dirty? I should go give my sheep a bath! Or at least give them one before they get sheared next year!

Barclay says 'mmmm, the kitchen smells like sheep...'

More hot water. Rinse and repeat. Three times until the water looked clean.

Then I had a bag of wet wool. So I took it to the washer, and set it on Spin, and let it go for three minutes. I pulled it out and the bag was two pounds lighter!

After the spin cycle the wool was just damp, so I set it on a screen in the fish room to dry. By evening it was dry and ready for step two. More on that later. Right now there's a lot more wool to wash!


Anonymous said...

Oh wow... it went from brown to almost white!

What's the next step, carding? (Did I get that right?)

StefRobrts said...

As I understand the next step is to take each little lock and brush it out with a little 'slicker' brush, just like I use on the dogs. That pulls out any leftover foreign material (grass, seeds, etc) and loosens up the lock. THEN we take it by the handful and 'card' it, which lines up the fibers and should leave me with a nice piece of wool (there's another name for it once it's been carded) ready to be spun. I don't imagine I could have figured all this out by book, it really helps to have a local mentor!