Friday, 1 November 2013

Even the Sparrows are Walking....

The title of this post has absolutely nothing to do with the topic, I heard the phrase on Radio 4 in relation to the 'Great Storm' and just loved the image that it conjures up!

What I thought I would do is share is the method I use to wash fleece - I keep linking this to a project on Ravelry and not everyone is a member of Ravelry apparently....  strange I know!

So for those who haven't discovered the wonders of the knitting community here is how I wash my fleeces, with the credit for this method going to littlemarchhare - thanks for sharing!

First, perhaps the most time consuming part is pulling the locks preparatory for the process to begin

In this exercise I am washing a BoDo fleece, BoDo is a cross between a Bowmont and a Poll Dorset so all the softness of the Bowmont, but some of the crimp of the Dorset, really nice!  This one is perhaps a bit more Bowmont than Dorset than the one that I got earlier this year, but a really nice fleece all the same - and it came from bowmontmad on Ravelry.

It is easy to see the locks and you grab hold of the tip while supporting the butt, and pull so that you end up with lots of lovely locks

These are then put into a double envelope of mesh (the sort that is sold in my Pound-land for cooking frozen chips upon..)

Three sheets have been sewn together along one of the long edges and the locks then get laid in each layer and the other three edges are closed with nappy pins.

I usually fill two of these and generally I packed in more locks, it really doesn't seem to matter whether they are spread out or not!

Then into a tray of near boiling water with two squirts of Power Scour and pummel the fleece with a potato masher - you can be quite firm with this bit, and it helps if you turn the envelope over and squidge again

I use a cheap roasting tray available at most supermarkets (the other tray is for the moment a cat litter tray, but it does get a bit wobbly so I am going to get another roasting tray when I have enough vouchers for a freebie!)

Then it is transfered into the second tray, same near boiling water, but with a squirt of ECover Washing Liquid and squidged again with the masher.

Once both envelopes have been through the two trays, they are emptied and refilled with clean near boiling water for rinsing, one with just water and the other two squirts of Unicorn Fibre Rinse or ECover fabric conditioner.  Squidging the fleece with the masher in both trays - remove the envelopes (for this I use small butcher hooks through the nappy pins - because the water is really really hot!)

I then allow the envelopes to drip for about half and hour to get the worst of the water out or you can put the envelopes between a towel and press, there is no hard and fast rule over this part............

Then lay out the washed locks to dry - in the summer this would be in the sun - at this time of the year I lay them out indoors by the window.

Once dry you have lovely locks perfect for combing

into nests ready for spinning

It might seem to be a lot of work, and for speed I have been known to wash in much larger quantities putting the fleece into mesh washing bags, but at the end of the washing you still have to separate the locks if you are going to comb your fleece - with this method the locks are ready to go..

Another small problem is that it seems to be impossible to get Power Scour now here in the UK - not sure why, but it just isn't available - and believe me I have tried (please if anyone knows of a supplier please, please let me know). I know lots of people use a cheap washing up liquid, but this I have found does strip the fleece of all the natural oils and makes it feel very dry and crisp. 

There is an Australian product called Fibre Scour which contains Tea Tree Oil and Lemon Myrtle which I tried today, but it seemed to leave a film of oil on the rinsing water, so am reserving judgment until after I have combed these locks.

I have also tried with ECover Pomegranate and Grapefruit Washing up Liquid, and I think the results were similar to the Aussie Fibre Scour, so I may try the ECover Chamomile and Marigold which just might be less astringent than those based on citric fruits.

So there you are - my way of washing fleece...............


  1. I have the Power Scour but still use my 'cheap washing up liquid' a lot for my fleeces :-)
    I don't recall ever seeing those mesh bits for cooking chips on but will look around for them

    1. Chris and I are a bit stuck in our ways - Power Scour has been first choice! They are a teflon mesh like these
      think this is a US site


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