My Sister-In-Law raises sheep and she generously offered to send me a fleece to create the wool stuffing. Sounds fun, wash a little wool and have some stuffing...yeah right, that's what happened. The wool arrived about a month ago in a box, I peaked inside and promptly closed the box! That wool was dirty, this would be a project for another day! The box was taken to the basement, out of sight out of mind. Every trip to the basement was a reminder of my task needing to be done. I recently had some foot surgery and was told to stay off my feet and keep the foot dry. Why is it when we are told not to do something, the thought of doing something opposite seems so enticing? That wool was calling my name, so I began reading about the washing process and watching youtube videos....it all seemed very doable and not as scary as I thought.
I brought the box outside, sat up a table and chair to begin the cleaning process. The fleece had been skirted which means most of the raggedy edges and poo tags had been removed. What it does not mean is, that all of the hay bits, chaf, ticks, burs, twigs other poo tags and items you would find in a barnyard had been removed. Those were there all mingled in with the wool, did I really want to do this?
Yes I was determined I would clean this fleece, muck and all. I sat there picking up a handful of locks and began the process of removing what I could, it was a beautiful day and really not a terrible job. What I did not expect was my mind began to wander, the fleece was full of lanolin and felt so good on my hands and the smell....well, surely it must be what heaven smells like. I was head over heals in love with my task at hand. It took me 2 days to pick through the fleece (the box weighed 11 pounds).
The washing process involves using HOT water and soaking, more hot water, more soaking and lots of rinsing. Yes, that water is as dirty as it looks in the photo!
After rinsing I took the fleece out to dry in the sun.
It is amazing how much cleaner it is! There are still small bits of hay they call that "vm" or vegetable matter. I was so caught up in the whole process I called my SIL and told her I would be buying a spinning wheel next! I did pay a visit to a nearby fiber store The Woolery and sought some advice on fluffing up the wool and removing the remaining vm. That conversation led me to purchasing hand carders and a drop spindle.
I have been carding and rolling up rolags of wool for using with the drop spindle. My resulting yarn is a bit lumpy but I was assured with practice it will smooth out. I still have small bits in the wool and have read Wool Combs will remove all the vm. The wool combs are expensive so I am thinking of making my own, that will be another post!
So, the idea of doll making, lead to the pattern/book buying, which lead to the fabric buying, which lead to the wool stuffing need, which lead to a generous gift from my SIL, which lead to studying, which lead to finding heaven in a box of dirty wool, which lead to HOT washing and very red hands, which lead to drying on a screen, which lead to a trip to the fiber arts supplier, which lead to wool carders and a major crush on a spinning wheel and some wool combs, which has lead to me drop spinning every day...and all I began wanting to do, was make a doll!!!
Love to all,