Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Washing Fleece in a City Apartment

The North Country Spinner's "guild challenge" this year involves CVM (California Variegated Mutant)/ Romeldale fleece. Interweave's Spin-Off Magazine is featuring (or featured?) skeins made from unprocessed, raw fleece. Our programs chair ran out of the fleece before each member received the bag she was entitled to so I was without my fleece for a few months. Very kindly and generously Mary M., who owns some Romeldale, gave me a present of some raw fleece. Finally I got my bag from the guild! So, I did end up with a fair amount. And, in the photo you can see the trusty aforesaid mesh bag on the drying rack!

Although I love the way raw fleece smells, I confess I did bag it up in plastic for the trip back to town. There isn't any vegetable matter, which is very nice.

My apartment has a lovely, old (1941) double sink. One side is deep enough to wash a toddler, as my children will attest. In the 40's some people actually did their own laundry by hand so I 'spose that's why that sink was installed. Anyway, it's wonderful for crafters. I zippered the greasy, wonderfully sheep-smelly fleece into a fine-mesh laundry bag, put a big bucket in the sink and filled it with 1/8 c. original Dawn dish detergent and filled it with the hottest water possible. Thank goodness for apartment building water heaters! Then I dunked the bag into the water, pushed it down and swished it very gently to make sure the fiber was getting soaked through. But, I was very gentle and careful not to cause it to felt. Immediately the water turned brown. I let the fleece soak for a while, pulled it out and refilled the bucket with a little Dawn and equally hot water. Then, I rinsed it in several buckets of water at the same temperature. The bag makes the whole process so much easier -- I wish I'd thought of it years ago. After spinning the bag in my salad spinner to get the excess water out I spread out clumps of fiber on a sweater rack on the wooden clothes rack, dividing the white from the brown. It took about 24 hours to dry thoroughly but it's just lovely and I can't wait to spin it. Thank you, Mary!

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