I purchased a fleece at Maryland Sheep & Wool on Saturday. I was looking for either a Polwarth or Targhee. I came home with 8 pounds of beautiful Romney and almost 2 pounds of Border Leicster with a BFL influence. The colors in both fleeces is to die for. Black, greys, tans. They have it all. The fleeces were already skirted and were clean of most VM. Neither was very greasy, either, but they did have to be washed. This is how I cleaned them:
BL with BFL influence before washing
Romney before washing
More Romney before wash
I had a mesh bag from the 10 pounds of onions I bought last week. I also had a black mesh collapsible laundry bag/basket and a delicates bag I used. Since I have a Kenmore Oasis washing machine, I couldn’t use it to soak the fleeces because it is electronic, and only fills to what it senses, and I can’t get the water hot enough because even on the hottest setting it mixes with cold water.
I wound up using the slop sink in the laundry room. I ran the hot water to fill the basin, added a bunch of Dawn dish detergent after the basin was done filling and swirled it gently to not make suds. I placed a bunch of the fleece in each of the bags- being careful not to overfill them, and gently pushed them down into the water. I let them soak for about 15 minutes, lifted the bags out to drain, and washed them again a second time. It was taking forever with just the 3 mesh bags, so I also started using 2 small plastic baskets. I submerged them, the placed the washed wool in the mesh bags to spin out.
To rinse them, I refilled the basin with cooler water- not cold, but not hot, either. After 2 rinses, I used some really old stitch holders that look like safety pins to close the bags. I used the washer to spin out the wool. Again, since the machine is electronic, it cannot be set to only spin. It does a rinse and spin that takes a total of 24 minutes. Since I didn’t want the wool in there that long going through all that rinsing and spinning, I ran it empty until I heard it doing it’s high speed spin thing. That’s when I placed the bags in and left the machine to do it’s job.
The wool came out almost dry, and it wasn’t felted at all. I brought it outside and laid it out on a shower curtain. Word to the wise- if you have an oak tree that is still dropping those stringy seedling things, DO NOT lay your drying fleece anywhere within the vicinity. I had to pick out a bunch of them, and they are the same color as the tips of many of the locks. Grrrr. The Romney is drying on the front lawn now. Far, far away from the oak tree.
Drying Romney. You can still see the locks!
After I finish washing the rest of the fleece (I ran out of hot water), I am going to use the Indigo Hound Viking combs (or Freddie Kruger fingers, as the Daughter Figure calls them) I just bought at the festival and make some roving to spin up. Woot!