I've learnt about myself that I enjoy doing things from scratch. I like growing vegetables from seed, for instance, and I loved pottery when I took a class in that a few years ago. So now I'm making wool from scratch. I bought a fleece at Woolfest: a lovely moorit shetland fleece. I can't remember if I've posted this picture before or not. Here is is spread out in its raw state. It smells sheepy, but really not pooey or nasty at all.
I've been washing it in smallish amounts. My method is to soak a bundle overnight in cold water, squeeze it out well and then to put it into very hot water with washing up liquid and allow it to soak for a while. The cold water soak gets rid of dust, grit and some of the vegetable matter; the hot water melts the lanolin (oil) and finishes the cleaning process. I then give it a couple of rinses in roughly equally hot water (a bit cooler of course because the first wash has cooled down), stuff it in an old pillowcase and spin it in the washing machine. It then dries very quickly if you spread it out in a warm place, e.g., near a radiator (but not on it).
Then it looks something like this.
You can see the bleached tips of the locks. I now pull out a lock at a time and flick card it. The flick carder is a bit like a dog grooming brush. It gets rid of bits of vegetation, undoes tangles and eliminates short hairs. All these things would make the spinning difficult and uneven.
I have recently bought a drum carder, so the next stage is to put the teased out locks through the carder, very slowly and carefully. After a couple of passes through the carder I end up with a lovely bouncy, squishy batt that I can spin.
I'll show you what happens next in a future post.