The Accidental Smallholder Forum

Food & crafts => Crafts => Topic started by: silkwoodzwartbles on May 30, 2016, 09:39:28 pm

Title: Turning a fleece into knitting wool - yourself
Post by: silkwoodzwartbles on May 30, 2016, 09:39:28 pm
My OH sheared my ram today and his fleece is stunning - he's a 4 year old Zwartbles so the base fleece was black, with sun bleached brown tips, and it also contains various shades of grey. It's so pretty that I want a jumper out of it, and was wondering what the process would be to turn it into knitting wool myself, rather than sending it away. I have 6 other fleeces (not so pretty) that I can practice on first.

Can I wash it in the washing machine on a wool wash to clean it (in a rug wash bag) or does it need to be done in a bucket of soapy water? How would I dry it? I assume carding it would be done after washing? I have a drop spindle to spin it - would I be better off begging the use of a spinning wheel?

Thanks in advance for any and all suggestions! :thumbsup:
Title: Re: Turning a fleece into knitting wool - yourself
Post by: Fleecewife on May 31, 2016, 01:17:41 am
Aieeeh  no you can't wash it in a washing machine, nor can you wash the finished article in a machine either.
The process is: shear, preferably by hand; cool by lying the fleece out in the air to dry the sweaty side; skirt - ie go round the outside edge and pick off all the daggy and draggly bits, then tear off any parts of the fleece which are full of veg bits; to wash, you need to do it by hand, bit by bit - be aware that even after washing tup fleece can retain its smell, especially on a rainy day when you are wearing your jumper; dry the fleece; card or comb; spin to yarn  :spin:; wash and dry  yarn; do a lot of test squares to find out the gauge of your yarn; work out or find a suitable pattern; knit your jumper  :knit:; wear it proudly   :bow:  :trophy: :thumbsup:

Your biggest friend could be youtube which has endless clips on how to do each stage of the process, and/or you could join your local Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers, or an ordinary spinners group.  You could get to borrow a wheel from them, or at least try out various makes and models to see what suits you.
If you decide to use a spindle, it will likely take a lot longer than spinning on a wheel. You need the weight of spindle most appropriate to the wool you are spinning, so the one you have may not suit. The thing with spindles is that they are not expensive so eminently collectible.

Yes it sounds a long process and may well take you months rather than weeks, but it's doable before the winter comes - go for it  :knit:
Title: Re: Turning a fleece into knitting wool - yourself
Post by: silkwoodzwartbles on May 31, 2016, 05:58:30 am
Fab, thank you!! :thumbsup:

I've got it safely bagged up away from the others so next time I've got a quiet, dry, warm day, I'll get cracking :D Exciting times :D
Title: Re: Turning a fleece into knitting wool - yourself
Post by: Louise Gaunt on May 31, 2016, 07:43:35 am
Sounds like a great idea, and I am sure you will wear your jumper with pride. Minor word of caution- the lovely colour imparted to the sun bleached tips may disappear during carding- I have found some of the tips to be very brittle due to sun damage, and they break off during preparation. Otherwise, I have found Zwartbles good to work with, and OK for sweaters but not next to skin soft. Good luck and keep us posted on progress!
Title: Re: Turning a fleece into knitting wool - yourself
Post by: Bionic on May 31, 2016, 08:07:30 am
I tried to reply to this last night but couldn't get the Internet to connect.


I was going to say what Fleecewife has already said (although she has said it better)


Definitely recommend going to a spinning group. Some people do get on OK on their own but if you hit a low point it's great to have some support.


Where abouts do you live?
Title: Re: Turning a fleece into knitting wool - yourself
Post by: Buttermilk on May 31, 2016, 08:22:16 am
I use the bath for washing fleeces, lots of hot water and washing up liquid needed to get out the grease, then rinsing in equally hot water as you do not want to shock the fleece.  Even in the bath a full zwartbles ram fleece will need doing in 5/6 lots as you do not want too much fleece in at once otherwise you will find you have to keep repeating the washes.  So I do not leave a trail of water all over the house I stand the fleece on racks over the bath to drain the worst of the water off before moving it outside for a nice sunny breeze to dry off properly.

This year I am taking most of my fleeces to Halifax Spinning Mills at Pollington for processing.
Title: Re: Turning a fleece into knitting wool - yourself
Post by: Fleecewife on May 31, 2016, 11:14:05 am
A word of caution - when you wash your fleece, don't pummel and beat it up.  Gently gently is the way - watch the youtube clips before you try.  Fleece is so easy to turn into an unusable lump of felt  :(

Can you post some pics on here as you work through your project?  I think we will all be interested in following your progress.
Title: Re: Turning a fleece into knitting wool - yourself
Post by: CarolineJ on May 31, 2016, 11:32:32 am
Following with interest, as I have three fleeces stuffed into bags to sort out (currently stinking out my annexe).  I want to learn to needlefelt, so now have plenty of practise material, though I think Bella had more or less felted herself already in places! 

I don't have a bath, though (well, I do, but it's out in the field...) so I'm going to have to wash it in very small batches in the sink.
Title: Re: Turning a fleece into knitting wool - yourself
Post by: Fleecewife on May 31, 2016, 12:15:16 pm
I use big tubbies/garden trugs - those rubber coloured things with handles.  I also spin in a free standing spin dryer each batch after washing and between rinses.  I don't know how well that would work in an auto washing machine - probably not good as you have no control over the length of the spin.  I inherited my free standing spinner but they might be available second hand.  Otherwise squeeze tightly  without wringing  then wrap clean rinsed fleece in old towels to get out as much water as possible before spreading out to dry.  Clematis mesh is good or jumper dryers from Lakeland.
Title: Re: Turning a fleece into knitting wool - yourself
Post by: silkwoodzwartbles on May 31, 2016, 12:21:28 pm
Thanks everyone, lots of really helpful tips, I sense YouTube will be my friend for the next few months :D

I'm in the Forest of Dean so recommendations for a local spinning group would be greatly appreciated. I'm very happy to blog about this provided the tips and advice keep coming :thumbsup:
Title: Re: Turning a fleece into knitting wool - yourself
Post by: Louise Gaunt on May 31, 2016, 04:42:21 pm
I use my washer for spinning water out of washed fleece. I wash it in big net laundry bags, rinse, then put the bags in the machine on a "drain and spin" cycle on a slow spin setting (400 rpm). It gets water out without, so far, damaging or felting the fleece.
Title: Re: Turning a fleece into knitting wool - yourself
Post by: SallyintNorth on May 31, 2016, 06:14:43 pm
On using a washing machine for spinning...  You need a machine that doesn't add water in the spin cycle; that doesn't tumble / reverse direction as it's getting ready to spin; ideally that lets you stop the spin when you want; and, in my experience, it's best to not spin until you've done at least a couple of rinses, so that there's not much soap left in.

To explain why... felting is a product of agitation, temperature shock (especially hot to cold) and lubricant.  So adding cold water to warm, still soapy fleece, is a bad thing.  As is tossing it about.  Risks much reduced by getting most of the soap out before spinning.

(When I say 'soap', I mean detergent.  I use Ecover washing up liquid.  You can use Woolite, Power Scour, washing up liquid or shampoo.)

Grease can also be a lubricant, so if you are going to use your machine to spin-dry, make sure you've washed with enough heat (greater than 160F - way too hot for your ungloved hands) and plenty of detergent, so that the grease has been washed out.  (Or use Power Scour, which can remove grease at hand-hot.)

If the fleece is greasy, you need to wash very hot with plenty of detergent, not leave it in for more than about 15 minutes, and rinse in water the same temperature (or hotter.  Not colder.)  If you let it cool with the grease in suspension, the grease can get deposited back on the fleece, and it's harder to remove the second time around.

Very detailed, step-by-step, with pictures, blog posts by Deborah Robson (author of The Fleece and Fibre Sourcebook) here (http://independentstitch.typepad.com/the_independent_stitch/2013/07/one-way-to-wash-fleeces-part-1-getting-ready.html)
Title: Re: Turning a fleece into knitting wool - yourself
Post by: silkwoodzwartbles on May 31, 2016, 06:52:22 pm
 :thumbsup: Thank you! :)
Title: Re: Turning a fleece into knitting wool - yourself
Post by: Blackbird on June 01, 2016, 03:16:46 pm
Agree with what the others say - if I'm going to wash fleece before spinning, I use a tubby trug or baby bath to wash, with the fleece placed on clematis (or fruit) netting, gently squeeze out moisture with an old towel and rest it on the rotary dryer (still on its netting) on one of the lovely sunny breezy days we should be getting now it's June!  :raining:

Otherwise, I spin it unwashed and then wash the finished skein - but it depends how greasy/dirty your fleeces are.
Title: Re: Turning a fleece into knitting wool - yourself
Post by: devonlady on June 02, 2016, 08:42:21 am
Hope you're reading thus Dans, I'm hoping my sheep will be shorn in the next few days!
Title: Re: Turning a fleece into knitting wool - yourself
Post by: SallyintNorth on June 02, 2016, 11:43:05 am
If you are reading this, Dans... I've found Castlemilk Moorit to be a surprisingly greasy fleece, so does require high temp lots of detergent to wash.  (Or use Power Scour.)

It's not a novice spin, either.  Very short, very fine fibre.  I find it easiest to spin directly from my little Louet hand combs - which is counter-intuitive, being a short fibre, but it works!
Title: Re: Turning a fleece into knitting wool - yourself
Post by: Bionic on June 02, 2016, 11:55:10 am
I bought 5 CMM fleece a couple of years ago and I couldn't spin them. In the end they all went on the compost heap :-(
Title: Re: Turning a fleece into knitting wool - yourself
Post by: SallyintNorth on June 02, 2016, 02:07:23 pm
I bought 5 CMM fleece a couple of years ago and I couldn't spin them. In the end they all went on the compost heap :-(

Oh no!  But life is definitely too short to spend on fleece that isn't fun to spin.

The spinning short fibres from the comb thing was a revelation to me.  I do the Manxes that way too.  I'm better at making rolags these days, but still prefer spinning CM and Manx from the comb.
Title: Re: Turning a fleece into knitting wool - yourself
Post by: Buttermilk on June 03, 2016, 08:53:53 am
  I'm better at making Roland these days, but still prefer spinning CM and Manx from the comb.

I take it Roland is autocorrect for rolags.
Title: Re: Turning a fleece into knitting wool - yourself
Post by: SallyintNorth on June 03, 2016, 01:34:59 pm
I'm better at making Roland these days, but still prefer spinning CM and Manx from the comb.

I take it Roland is autocorrect for rolags.

That's karma, that is.  When I read other people's posts with stupid autocorrectnesses in them, I spit and fume  :rant:.    :-[ :-[

I've corrected the post now, thanks!
Title: Re: Turning a fleece into knitting wool - yourself
Post by: Dans on June 03, 2016, 04:37:53 pm
I am indeed reading this!

I've washed a few fleeces so far in the bath with ecover. No felting incidents so far.

Yeah I've heard that CMM isn't the best for spinning but I fell in love with them. Gonna try peg loom rug mixed with a white fleece this year and maybe try some felting as it's  lovely colour. One is super soft and actually intact (half of them shed a lot) so I'm tempted to try spinning it. Or sending it off to be done, I was reading the other thread with interest.

Dans
Title: Re: Turning a fleece into knitting wool - yourself
Post by: Mad Goatwoman of Madeley on June 05, 2016, 11:40:12 pm
I prefer to spin in the grease and wash the spun yarn. I've never yet found one too greasy to spin and that includes CMM.
Title: Re: Turning a fleece into knitting wool - yourself
Post by: SallyintNorth on June 06, 2016, 09:44:08 am
I prefer to spin in the grease and wash the spun yarn. I've never yet found one too greasy to spin and that includes CMM.

I'm more in your camp, Lesley, preferring to spin in the grease (after a cold soak only) for the most part.  However, having had to wash large numbers of fleeces for our Deb Robson workshop, I hate washing fleece - and washed fleece - less now!

And, now I've partially overcome my antipathy to washing fleece and washed fleece, I can admit that anything tricky to prep on mini-combs or hand cards may well be easier if washed.  So a greasy longwool, I would wash.  Manx and Castlemilk, if short and greasy, I'd wash for carding, might wash or not for spinning off the combs.  Anything in between, I'd probably not wash, mainly due to time constraints and workload, rather, now, than my preference.

I still like the magic of the spun-in-the-grease yarn turning white and airy when it's washed!
Title: Re: Turning a fleece into knitting wool - yourself
Post by: Fleecewife on June 06, 2016, 11:32:30 am
I agree with the cold soak first, whichever way you spin.  In fact when I do wash the fleece I don't use really hot water because I want to keep some of the lanolin in, just getting the worst mank out.  I also add baby oil to the final rinse, which helps keep it nice if it's to be stored, and also nice to spin  :spin:.