Welcome to my woolly little blog!!

Welcome to my woolly little blog!!
You are welcome to browse, comment, ask questions,
seek advice on a knitting issue and find out more about Shetland and it's world renowned wool.
Plus, some snippets and snaps from my everyday life.
So pull up a chair and sit awhile, away from the rush of the world.
Please do not use any images from my blog as most of them, unless otherwise stated, are my own work.
You are more than welcome to read, comment and follow!

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Washing My Soay Fleece

They say there's a first time for everything and for me this was definitely the first time ever for washing fleece, made all the more exciting because it came from one of my own Soay sheep. As I've mentioned before, Soays shed their own fleece so there is no need for clipping, but you have to be vigilant if you want to get as much of the fleece off as possible. My Soay, Yaisah, had shed almost half of her fleece before I got the rest off. I did, however, get most of Shulah's fleece.
So follow me with words and photos as I take you through my first tentative wool wash!
I started at about 12.45 pm and looked out all the things I would need. I wasn't sure whether to use detergent or soap flakes as I'd read that either is acceptable, but in the end I settled on one of my favourite detergents......

Fleece smelling like apples? Hmmm..

Please comment below this post if you have found that one particular soap or detergent works well for you personally. I'd be very interested to hear your views on this.
I weighed the fleece just out of curiosity and this was the result. Remember, this is roughly HALF a fleece from a year old Soay lamb. Next year the sheep will yield a thicker and heavier fleece.

So I filled a small bowl full of lukewarm water and the detergent and gently pressed the fleece down until it sank down into the bowl.....

Soay fleece is VERY greasy but I wanted to keep some of that in the wool to assist with the spinning process so I felt that lukewarm water was the best. Next time I will make the water a little hotter though. This is all a learning process and I'm enjoying the learning as much as the process itself!
As all my sheep are on a heathery hill apportionment with some marshy areas among it, I was not surprised to find that the water soon became very dirty. This photo is actually the second blot. In my excitement I forgot to take a photo of the first!

I was timing these washes carefully because it's important not to let the water temperatures vary, so I didn't keep it in the basin long enough for the water to cool too much.By this time the clock said......

I took three photos of the fleece after the second wash while it was on the draining board. You may be able to see the amount of lanolin in the fleece. When wet it appears almost like a hoard of tiny wet particles of rice. If you squash it between your fingers it is just a greasy mess and quite unpleasant but very good for the skin on your hands! Here are the photos I took......

And then I got distracted and took a couple of random kitchen shots!!!

I love these bull plates. I have five of them and paid only £2 each for them. They measure approx. 11 x 9 inches and I like them very much.

I'd never actually keep pigs ( unless they stayed tiny piglet size!!) but I do love paintings of farm animals. This pig painting isn't very big and is painted onto a block. It looks nice in our kitchen.

Oops no, that was the time after the first wash! Sorry!

Nothing I own is worth a lot of money. If I like it, I buy it, and most of what I love is either presents from much loved family members (those things I DO treasure!) or items picked up at car boots or other sales. After all, we can't take our possessions with us when we leave this earth. Enjoy what you have, even if it cost more in car fuel to bring it home!
Back to the draining board!
The first rinse obviously showed detergent and a little dirty water coming through but after a few rinses it was beginning to look clear and I was satisfied that I'd got enough dirt and lanolin out of the fleece to think about getting it completely rinsed and on the 'screen' for drying. Here you can see the water is clear where I've moved the fleece aside....

The book I was using to direct me in this whole process suggested using a colander to get most of the water out of the fleece and then to get a fluffy towel and lay the fleece in it and squeeze down on it to get more water out. My colander has lots of ideas of what to drain in it but fleece is not one of them!

From the colander to the towel......

Now can I ask you something?
What do you use as a 'rust proof screen' when drying your fleece? I don't really have anything that I would consider totally suitable for this purpose so I actually used a kitchen cutting 'mat' made of reinforced glass. The ones you use for chopping veg and cutting meat. I won't use it again as I wasn't totally happy with it. I found the fleece took too long to dry (but then I did have to dry it indoors). Please let me know what works for you. Just write in the comment box below. I'd be very interested to know.

Well, I hope I haven't bored the fleece off you!!! Please let me know you called by my blog. If you have your own blog I will certainly visit yours too.
Now I'm off to have a roast chicken dinner! Until next time, keep calm and read lots of blogs!

1 comment:

  1. I like your blue and white dishes. I collect blue and white plates. Most of mine I find second hand for a few bucks. ; )