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Author Topic: Washing fleece  (Read 1206 times)

Steel

  • Joined Aug 2017
Washing fleece
« on: June 17, 2018, 09:57:44 am »
Am currently washing my first fleece from my whitefaced woodlanders and I was wondering at what point it would be considered clean|?

It is now on its fifth hot soak with detergent but some of the very light orange patches are not coming out. I think it is sweat.

Do you think this will be ok?

How much will it show up once knitted up if I don't dye it?
Voss Electric Fence

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Washing fleece
« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2018, 10:25:10 am »
What detergent are you using? 

Did you skirt the fleece (remove any manky, felted or otherwise unusable bits) thoroughly before you started?  And did you give the fleece an overnight cold soak before you put it in hot water?

Basically moderate sweat should wash out but they get patches near the armpits which are very orange and would usually be taken off when skirting. 

I always cold soak in plain water first; I’m not sure whether sweat might need the cold soak before the hot wash, or whether - like blood - sweat gets ‘set’ if put straight into hot.

Another thing that can cause orange-y staining is weather damage, and it was a long wet winter last year.  :gloomy:  if it’s that, you might be lucky that the stained fleece gets left behind on the combs - but you would need to ‘top and tail’ the locks (with a flick carder or dog comb) before carding if you are wanting to card the fleece rather than comb it.

I’d dry some and experiment with combing. 

I’ve assumed this is a natural orange and not branding paint?
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Steel

  • Joined Aug 2017
Re: Washing fleece
« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2018, 10:40:35 am »
What detergent are you using? 

Normal washing up liquid. I did a test run on small amount using Ecover and it took a long, long time and many more washes to come clean. This time the majority of the dirt came out after three washes.

Did you skirt the fleece (remove any manky, felted or otherwise unusable bits) thoroughly before you started? 
Yes, got all the worst bits off.

And did you give the fleece an overnight cold soak before you put it in hot water?

No, didn't realise I had to do that. I looked online and read a few methods for washing and went with putting it straight into hot water.

Basically moderate sweat should wash out but they get patches near the armpits which are very orange and would usually be taken off when skirting. 

I always cold soak in plain water first; I’m not sure whether sweat might need the cold soak before the hot wash, or whether - like blood - sweat gets ‘set’ if put straight into hot.

Ahhhh...didn't think about that. I've dealt with washing blood before in the laundry but never heavy sweat so didn't even know that!

Another thing that can cause orange-y staining is weather damage, and it was a long wet winter last year.  :gloomy:  if it’s that, you might be lucky that the stained fleece gets left behind on the combs - but you would need to ‘top and tail’ the locks (with a flick carder or dog comb) before carding if you are wanting to card the fleece rather than comb it.

Could be weather damage. On a few occasions over the winter I found them asleep in the snow, despite providing a cosy warm shelter.

I’d dry some and experiment with combing. 

I have the test wool I washed a few weeks ago so will try that.

I’ve assumed this is a natural orange and not branding paint?

Definitely. Branding paint was green. That's come out.

I think I'm going to start rinsing this now and go with what I have, see what it looks like when dry. The orange patches may just look worse when wet

Steel

  • Joined Aug 2017
Re: Washing fleece
« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2018, 10:42:41 am »
For some reason I forgot about the quote function for posts. Sorry about that! Hope my post above makes sense.

EDITED TO ADD:

I found the following pdf on carding and combing, and I would say my fleece colour patches probably resembles the romney fleece on page 5.

« Last Edit: June 17, 2018, 11:04:29 am by Steel »

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Washing fleece
« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2018, 11:26:12 am »
Yes I've understood your response :)

I think you will be amazed how much dirt comes out in an overnight cold soak :)

It's very rare for me to find a fleece I can't get clean with Ecover, so I am wondering what's going on with yours!  (Although I do now have Unicorn Power Scour, and find it excellent.  You need tiny amounts, and it cleans at lower temperatures too, so is worth the outlay.  But lots of people use ordinary washing up liquids and shampoos :) )

The Romney in the PDF looks slightly orangey at the tips; almost certainly those orangey bits will come off when combing / topping.  Dirt can get retained in the tips of locks, there's a whole other washing technique (or several) for getting tips clean.

Whereabouts in the lock is your orangeness?  Any chance of a piccy?
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Steel

  • Joined Aug 2017
Re: Washing fleece
« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2018, 11:43:37 am »
Yes I've understood your response :)

I think you will be amazed how much dirt comes out in an overnight cold soak :)

It's very rare for me to find a fleece I can't get clean with Ecover, so I am wondering what's going on with yours!  (Although I do now have Unicorn Power Scour, and find it excellent.  You need tiny amounts, and it cleans at lower temperatures too, so is worth the outlay.  But lots of people use ordinary washing up liquids and shampoos :) )

The Romney in the PDF looks slightly orangey at the tips; almost certainly those orangey bits will come off when combing / topping.  Dirt can get retained in the tips of locks, there's a whole other washing technique (or several) for getting tips clean.

Whereabouts in the lock is your orangeness?  Any chance of a piccy?

A lot of orangey bits are on the tip, and there are a couple of bigger patches that are orange, which might the underarms you mentioned. I've tried to get a picture but unfortunately it all looks snowy white. My camera just isn't picking up the colour nuances. It looks perfect!

There is a hell of a lot of debris still in the fleece. The sheep used to push their way through bushes and undergrowth to get what they wanted so even at this late stage I'm pulling out twigs, seeds burrs, grass etc., despite picking over the fleece first and pulling out loads during the washes.

Hoping that comes out during the next stage.

By the way, why comb rather than card?

Bionic

  • Joined Dec 2010
  • Talley, Carmarthenshire
Re: Washing fleece
« Reply #6 on: June 17, 2018, 12:11:38 pm »
Steel, sorry to jump in on your post.


Sally I have never heard of Unicorn Power Scour. I will give that a try on my unicorns  ;)  as I can't stand the smell of Ecover
Life is like a bowl of cherries, mostly yummy but some dodgy bits

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Washing fleece
« Reply #7 on: June 17, 2018, 02:47:13 pm »
There is a hell of a lot of debris still in the fleece. The sheep used to push their way through bushes and undergrowth to get what they wanted so even at this late stage I'm pulling out twigs, seeds burrs, grass etc., despite picking over the fleece first and pulling out loads during the washes.

Hoping that comes out during the next stage.

By the way, why comb rather than card?

If you card (hand card or drum card) without any preliminary preparation, all that debris stays in the rolag and gets into your yarn.   :yuck:

So with fleece that's other than squeaky clean, you want to extract the not-fleece first.

One way is to use a wool picker, but most of us don't have room - or bravery - for one of these!  :D

So the technique many of us use is to comb the nasties out.  Wool combs come in many sizes (and prices) but do a grand job of leaving the mucky and short bits behind, leaving you with lovely organised spinnable fibre. 

If you want a woollen yarn, however - lofty and full of air - then combing doesn't give you the prep you want.  The combed fibres are all parallel to each other and will spin into a worsted - more compressed, more lustrous - yarn than a rolag (from hand cards) or batt (from a drum carder.)

So if you want a woollen yarn, you can comb and then card to make your rolag or batt.  All the nasty stuff gets left behind at the combing stage; the rolag or batt will be lovely and clean.

Another pre-prep for carding is to 'top and tail', where you take each lock and comb out the tips and butts (either or both, as needed) before putting them onto your hand cards or drum carder.  A dog comb is a good tool for doing this, or you can 'bounce' dirt out of the tips using a flick carder. 

Or you can take your combed prep and 'spin from the fold', where you basically fold the sliver of organised fibres over your finger or thumb and take fibres from the side, which disorganises them somewhat and gives you a 'semi-woollen' yarn.

The Whitefaced Woodland I've had has been on the shorter end of fibres I'd comb for a worsted spin, but it has some lustre so would make a nice yarn.  In general, though, I'd think you'd want to be woollen-spinning Whitefaced Woodland.  (Having said which, I spin extremely short Castlemilk Moorit directly from my tiny Louet hand combs, but that's a whole other story... )

I'd recommend the dog comb then card route, I think.
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Washing fleece
« Reply #8 on: June 17, 2018, 03:04:47 pm »
I will also share two of the 'washing dirty tips' tricks, either or both of which may still be worth trying.

1.  Deb Robson's Hands-On approach

All the detail on Deb's blog (the bit about opening the tips is towards the bottom of Part 2), but the short version is to wash the fleece in a thin layer, so all the locks are accessible from the top without agitating the fleece too much.  On the second or third wash, very gently massage the tips only to open them up as they lie in the soapy water. The dirt will drop to the bottom.

2.  Sue Macniven's Hot and Soapy Revulsion approach

Taking one or a very few locks at a time, hold them by the butts (cut end) and dunk the tips into extremely hot (much hotter than your hands can stand) very soapy (looking positively green if you're using Fairy or similar washing up liquid) water.  Sue used plastic drink cups when she showed me this technique.  The chemical reactions make the tips fly apart, and the dirt drops to the bottom.  Drop the locks into a lot of equally hot clean water to rinse.  (You never want to give soaped-up fleece a temperature shock, particularly hot to cold.)

While checking my references, I came across another recommendation from Sue Macniven, so I'll add it :

3.  Sue Macniven's It's Not a Crime to Cut a Lock approach

Quote from: Sue Macniven
there is nothing at all wrong with cutting the tips off, if it is long enough to still be able to prep as you want, lamb tips tend to be a bit brittle anyway and as others have said, could well come off in the combing.
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Steel

  • Joined Aug 2017
Re: Washing fleece
« Reply #9 on: June 17, 2018, 08:01:30 pm »
Wow! Thank you! So much great information to consider. As this is my first time prepping a fleece I shall do as you suggest and use a dog comb then carders.

The fleece is currently dripping in the shower overnight and then into the airing cupboard on towels it goes to dry for a few days.


Steel

  • Joined Aug 2017
Re: Washing fleece
« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2019, 07:28:38 pm »
Thought I'd update this.

I hung the fleece to dry, umm'd and ahh'd for a few weeks, and then booked it in with a small mill that deals with rare breed fleece. I knew I was getting busy with work, which would continue right the way through to Xmas, so opted to just get on and do something with it rather than lose momentum and end up storing it for years.

I had to wait until January before they could fit it in but yesterday I received back just under 2kg of wool back in 100g bundles of DK. I decided on DK as I know I will do more with it. Because I had spent the time picking the bits out and washing, it didn't need to be washed at the mill and just went straight in for processing. That made it a lot cheaper. Despite my concerns, the colour is very uniform and no orangey bits!

Now to decide what to knit! Scouring Ravelry as we speak.

« Last Edit: February 12, 2019, 07:32:42 pm by Steel »

pharnorth

  • Joined Nov 2013
  • Cambridgeshire
Re: Washing fleece
« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2019, 08:33:18 pm »
Very nice. Well done for getting it all sorted although I reckon with the washing you went throughnyou did the hardest bit.

Dogwalker

  • Joined Nov 2011
Re: Washing fleece
« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2019, 06:44:11 am »
Which mill did you send it to? 

Steel

  • Joined Aug 2017
Re: Washing fleece
« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2019, 08:42:11 am »
The Border Mill

They normally do Alpaca fleece but as this was rare breed and they'd never spun it before they agreed to do it. The waiting times are long though. They're currently booked until January 2020.

Steel

  • Joined Aug 2017
Re: Washing fleece
« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2019, 01:45:07 pm »
Very nice. Well done for getting it all sorted although I reckon with the washing you went throughnyou did the hardest bit.

Certainly felt like it. My back was complaining something terrible. All feels worth it now  :excited:

 

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