I have been keeping busy. There is work. And my eternal gratitude for employment and a paycheck. And there is crafty goodness.
I have been plugging away at washing my corriedale fleece from last year's SAFF festival. It's gloriously soft and has several colours so I have many projects planned for it. I went though the fleece in more detail a few weeks ago and removed the shortest greyest bits, for a smaller project. (These are not second cuts as they are only shorn on one end, but they definitely are not the length of the rest of the fleece.) And I also separated out the blackest brown bits.
The very short bits were destined for me to wash and then play with on my supported spindle and the blacker bits were going to be washed en masse in a big pot on the stove. I didn't need any fancy washing here as they are all going to be carded on the drum carder.
Over the last few years I have now washed fleece in several different ways.
1. Put everything in lingerie bags, toss them in a bathtub filled with hot water and Dawn and repeat until clean. Window screens make useful drying racks as they fit neatly over the bathtub.
2. Fermented suint method - use lingerie bags or don't and toss into outdoor plastic tubs filled with cold water. Leave them for several days (oh, who am I kidding it was 2 weeks before I got round to it) and then toss in bathtub for final rinse.
3. Neatly arrange locks side by side in pillowcases or lingerie bags and place in roasting tin. Carefully fill with hot water and Dawn and either simmer in the oven or on the stove top. Rinse and repeat several times until done.
4. Toss fleece in large stock pot with Dawn and hot water and simmer for about an hour and then rinse and repeat.
5. Individual locks with tons of soap washed directly under the hot and cold running water. America - this is when your penchant for having your hot water and cold water mixed before coming out of the faucet really lets me down. Having separate hot and cold faucets/taps would be so convenient here.
All of those are a result of reading and talking about this topic and much thanks to Margaret Stowe's DVD's, Judith Mackenzie's instruction and random Ravelry chatter.
They all work. I've never felted anything. (Although, hey I bet that's in the cards soon.)
I will add though that my favorite is simmering things neatly in my roasting pan on the stove. But dumping a ton of fleece into the ex stockpot is definitely the fastest and even though everything comes out higgledy piggledy, it's going to be just fine for carding. Which by definition is a higgledy piggledy fiber prep.
There it is. Cleaned and dumped on the kitchen table to dry.
Waiting for some sorting and drum carding.
The short bits travelled a different route.
I grabbed the above shown tools. Hand carders on the left (I use Schacht's cotton carders) and my Neal Brand supported spindle. It's a lovely thing. I used a little bit of random clean fleece for my initial attempt as the short stuff was still drying while I thought this through.
I spindled some and made a 3 ply yarn by rolling it on my leg. It was poorly executed and reinforced my need to work on my support spindling. And apparently my thigh spinning could use some work too…
So I got to work. I carded some rolags and once they were off the carders, attenuated them into long strips of roving. I do not like spinning off rolags and it seemed unnecessary to leave them in that shape.
It's about 44 grams of delicious squish and that's not a lot but it will keep me busy working on my supported spindling skills. I'd forgotten how much I liked supported spindling and it's so good for practicing my long draw.
I'm really thrilled with the whole process. It's a funny thing about processing fleece. In the beginning it seems so fraught with peril and if you make the wrong decision the world will end. However, after some time and several mistakes you start to realize that a fleece is huge and grabbing a small bit and trying out a washing technique is perfectly harmless. And that although different fiber preps do benefit from different washing techniques, if you commit to a sample, you will not regret any mistakes and you'll get the satisfaction of seeing your sample sooner rather than later.