Wednesday, 12 January 2011

A Method of Washing Fleece

On Monday evening I washed fleece.   Yummy, long stapled fleece from the the Pacific N.W.   They must be very happy sheep because the fibre is very nice; clean, long and strong.    I had two ziplock packets of just over 100 grams each -  4 oz. Imperial measurements.  There was a grey, which has totally seduced me colourwise, with it's sun faded tips and blue grey tone for the rest of it. I washed it normally, in the sink, with the regular precautions of no sudden temperature changes nor any agitation.  It turned out nicely     The other is what I think to be a Lincoln cross.   The locks were so well defined, even crammed into a ziplock, that I absolutely had to wash them carefully to keep the lock structure intact.  Just a warning, this is the technique that I always tell myself, I'll never use because it is too time consuming and fussy!  It is but sometimes....

First, I grabbed a piece of fibreglass window screen.  I keep several pieces for use in both washing and drying fibre.  I used the larger piece which was about 45cm x 90 cm (18in. x 36 in.).  I carefully separated the locks, or groups of locks that some seemed to be in.   I laid them out on the screening to make sure they were intact locks that I was working with and to see how much I had.   There are two ways to do this, one is to make a single layer of locks, package and washing each layer separately.  This method works well, but I find it somewhat tedious and very time consuming.  Instead, I layered the locks on top of each other.  If I had enough screening, I could have used a layer of that between the locks, but I've never really had much of a problem with just using two or three layers of locks at a time.

I packaged up the locks by folding the screening around it.  First, I folded the sides in, then the top down and bottom up.  I used little bulldog clips to hold the sides and two T pins to close the centre seam.  I could have sewn, tied or pinned the whole thing, but the clamps are easy to use and I could find easily find them since they live in my loom bench.  I only ever seem to be able to find 2 T pins at any one time.  I'm sure the house gremlins have huge hoards of T pins, pencils, pens, scissors and sewing chalk, in hidden places which I've yet to discover.

I filled a sink up with very hot water and a good squirt of dishsoap. I tend to use Dawn, because that is what the dishwishers in my family like (they WISH we had a dishwasher!), but any good quality detergent will do, even laundry soap if it doesn't have bleach, optical whiteners etc. added.    I gently pushed the fibre packet into the hot water and let it soak for about 20 minutes.  I removed it, squeezed it out gently and redid the process - once more with hot, soapy water and two rinses.  

I opened the packet and spread it out on my nifty fleece drying rack. On a recent trip to a certain Blue and Yellow Swedish Box store, my sweetie suddenly said in a loud voice to catch my attention  " look, a fleece drying rack"  and poof, it came home with me.. good man...   I think maybe it was originally supposed to work for laundry, but it's fairly lightweight and I wouldn't want to dry jeans or towels on it.   But for fleece and yarn?  It's perfect!   I did have to spread the screen out underneath the fleece to keep it from slipping through the openings, but I'd  do that on the deck anyway.

Of course having washed fleece in the winter, with our dry winter and dryer wood stove heated air, setting up the rack in close proximity to the wood stove and fan circulated air, helped it dry very quickly.   It was easy to separate each lock.  This will be so fun to spin.


Helen said...

Many thanks -that is very useful and the result is quite yummy.

suzibee said...

That looks just beautiful for spinnning!!

Leigh said...

Fiberglass window screening! That's even better than the netting I use. Thanks for the tip! The locks looks scrumptious.