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Bay Colony Farm
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Another Day at Bay Colony Farm
Sunday, May 22, 2005
More fleeces, and yet more fleeces
Mood:  a-ok
Now Playing: Four Tops "Ain't No Woman (Like the One I've Got)"
Topic: Fiber

Oooooh, I can see the moon rising in the east while sitting here at my desk. It is a lovely pale yellow orb nestled in the tree branches. :)

I purchased two fleeces yesterday while up in Jamaica. Both were directly from the sheep, so skirting was minimal, but they were so pretty, that I couldn't resist. The first one is a Finn-Dorset, which had a bit of VM in it, but not as much as I expected since the sheep wasn't covered. That fleece is on it's third soaking and now enters the rinsing phase of cleaning. It is coming out beautifully, and I can hardly wait to card this up this week. It's white, and very, very soft, while having a fine crimp and a lovely handle to it.

My technique for washing is very simple; I fill my washer with the hottest water I can, stop the water, pour in some cheap laundry detergent until the water feels a bit slick. Today I added a bit of washing soda, which cut down on the suds during the draining phase. I soaked the fleece for about 20 minutes, then drained and spun out the water. I always turn off the water behind the washer as soon as I stop the water on the washer. By doing this immediately, I don't risk water pouring down on the fleece during the spin cycle, thus felting it. I will soak the fleece one or two more times the same way (using detergent) until it no longer feels greasy to my hands. Then I'll soak in plain hot water again, until there are no soap suds left. Sometimes, on a particularly greasy fleece, I'll add some Simple Green to the soap water. But, this also promotes LOTS of suds, which then increases the plain water soaks I have to do. But Simple Green cuts the grease quickly, and is worth it on the heavy grease fleeces. After the fleece has been soaked several times, I spin it out (again) and place on special drying racks that Deanna has made (these are a god-send, especially since they stack on each other and I can dry a lot of wool at once, yet maintaining a good air flow through the wool). Usually on hot days, the fleeces will require one or two turnings, and they are all set to card. The real secret to washing fleece is to make sure that you get all the grease out, because sometimes you will be fooled, and find that a fleece that you washed earlier is still a bit tacky and requires a few more soakings with detergent.

The second fleece is a white Shetland fleece. While I haven't taken this out of the bag, it shows great promise, especially for what I'm thinking of as carding with some angora.

Tomorrow I will contact a local college and see what they have for their fleeces, which they tell me are "dirty". But for the price, we'll see. It might be worth my time to pick through and remove the VM, or it might not. That is the chance you take when you buy fleeces from people not raising sheep for the handspinning community.

Posted by baycolonyfarm at 8:53 PM EDT

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