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Thursday, 27 May 2010

Things I have learned...

...when preparing fleece.

I have managed to acquire quite a bit of fleece over the past six months. First I bought some Corriedale and some Merino from James, then at Wonderwool; I bought Ryeland, BFL, BFL X Corrie, Alpaca and so on.

I decided this week to start cleaning the merino fleece - anyone who has worked with merino knows that it is incredibly greasy.

I did a lot of research and asked a lot of questions. Unfortunately, I got a lot of vagueish answers. Such as 'put a bit of fleece in a laundry mesh bag' - erm ok, but how much is a 'bit' and what size laundry bag??

Eventually I decided I would just have to jump in with both feet and have a go!

Well of course, I stuffed far too much into the bags and then didn't use enough hot water and so on and so on.

So, I got some of the small laundry bags - they're about the size of a standard laptop - I separated the fleece into locks and arranged the locks in a row along the bottom of the bag, with the tips all facing the bottom of the bag. I then folded the bag over (with merino locks; you can fold it twice!) and secured either end with a pin.

You should now have a long thin mesh package. I filled up an orange B&Q bucket (12 litre bucket, I probably filled to 10 litres) with water from the hot tap and a kettle's worth of boiled water, then I added a squirt of Fairy liquid.

I gently placed the packages on top of the water and pressed them down ever so gently. I put 4 packages in one bucket. I left them in there to soak for about 20 minutes. Then I filled another bucket - again with the hot water and water from the kettle (no Fairy) and moved the packages into that bucket for a 20 minute rinse.

Do that twice!

Then I took them outside to dry.

They are still a little greasy, but I can live with that and once I've spun the yarn; I can gently boil them to get out any remaining grease.

They look gorgeous now I've carded them though!

I want to thank James, Jan and Sue - especially Jan (who spent an entire day answering daft questions via PM) for all their advice.

In between washing and combing/carding merino, I've been putting the Corriedale fleece through the drum carder. I've quite a few lovely floofy batts and the batts are getting better and better in quality.

I'm separating the locks, then I align them up in a row and just drum card them, but again I have learned not to do too much. A smaller amount cards a lot better than a large amount: it really opens the locks up and makes a much better batt - if you just chuck a load through; you end up with a batt that is just a lot of locks loosely held together!

When I've put enough through to fill the carder, I take the batt off and separate it into strips and put the whole lot through again! This gets everything that slipped through first time around and gives me a much floofier batt!

So what have I learned? Patience sigh and that you get further, quicker if you just slow down!

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