Just to throw my technique into the mixture; this works for whole fleeces or sections. I have Ryeland fleeces, they do machine wash in a pillow case, but I prefer this method. Plus, I sent one to the launderette (who thought it was great fun) and it felted...they have impressive spins on those machines!
I've found the wool comes out very white with this technique
Before washing I am ruthless with skirting. I take off a couple of inches around the edges, pick out any large icky bits, take off any bits that are excessively dirty and may not clean up and also remove any coloured areas left if the sheep has been tupped/sprayed.WASHING
- Fill your bath/sink with hot hot water (as hot as you can bear with your bare hands) and put in a squirt of fairy liquid (or non-branded equivalent) DO NOT SWOOSH TO MAKE BUBBLES!
- Submerge fleece and leave for 20 mins.
- Then, remove the fleece, gently squeeze the water out.
- Re-fill the bath/skin with hot hot water (temperature should be the same as the first one), but no fairy liquid. Submerge wool and leave for 20 mins.
- Repeat the last step.
I then peg towels across my airer and spread the wool out to dry.CARDING
Once the wool is dry and before I card it I pick through it. Very simple to do. Usually the wool still has bits in after washing and there can be a few semi-felted/stuck together bits.
I take a piece of wool in my hand (roughly the size of my fist) and pull bits off it Any little bits will drop out and it will allow you to pick out larger bits. I then stick this in a basket before carding.
I mostly use a drum carder due to the quantity of wool I process, but hand carders work just as well
When I use my hand carders I let the wool put itself on...if that makes sense. I get a small handful of washed wool, and drag it downwards onto the carder without applying too much pressure. When the carder is full I card away.
You will always get mess when you card; which is - really - what you want because it means the ming isn't in the wool. (Though when I sell my wool I make a point of saying that it may contain some VM.)
Once I've got the batts off, I then draft it into roving with my trusty bottle-top diz!
It does take a while, but it is worth it!