While Sandy and I were at Michigan Fiber Festival, Alaina and Anita Richert from Richert Ranch stopped by with a 3.6 pound Lincolnfolk fleece from a ewe named Mini Marshmallow. We have purchased this ewe’s fleece before so we know it to be lovely and lustrous. So, we bought it.
Now, looking at this fleece, I knew that washing it was going to be a bit of a chore.
As you can see, the tips of the fleece were pretty dirty. Because of the size of the fleece, I decided to split it in half and wash it in two parts so plenty of water could flow through the locks and the soap could do a better job. First thing, though was to cold soak it to get as much of the dirt out as possible and to soften up the dirt in those tips.
So, I filled up my handy-dandy $5 tub from IKEA with cold water (no soap during the cold soaks)…
And added the fleece. See how dirty the water is already? This is just after pushing the fleece under the cold water and making sure it was all wet. Already, the cold soak is doing its job.
And this was the color of the water I dumped out after only 12 hours in the cold soak bath.
I refilled the IKEA tub, squeezed out as much dirty water from the fleece handful by handful, and it is now soaking in fresh cold water. As dirty as this fleece is, it will soak at least 48 hours, getting changed every 12, then I will take handfuls of the dirtiest parts and swish them briskly in a tub of clean water to dislodge the majority of the dirt from the tips. It is time consuming to do this, but the results are worth it. And because the water is cold, you don’t have to worry about felting.
See what I mean? There is still a bit of veg in this fleece, but Ohio Valley should be able to get the majority of it out with the picking and carding processes. And look at that shine!!!
Again, I am using Unicorn Power Scour and Beth Smith’s technique of washing fleeces, and I am very happy with the results.
Once I get this Lincolnfolk fleece washed, next up are a couple of lovely Polypay fleeces that I plan to dye. They aren’t all that dirty, so I am hoping that 24 hours cold soaking for each will be plenty for them. I love seeing a dirty fleece become all clean and usable.