Last fall, I purchased this lovely fleece at the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool festival…..
I saw it judged as part of the Junior fleece show, and stalked it like a hawk at the sale afterward. I had originally gone looking for a delicious silver fleece….but had to have this one.
As you can see, this is a Corriedale Friesian cross, a huge 11 pounds. The staff working the sale were very excited about this one, the seller, Anne Hinchley, is an up and coming shepherdess that they have been very impressed with. I’ll be looking for her this fall.
I felt terrible putting the fleece on the back burner, but our house was under construction at the time, and I didn’t want sawdust, nails, and slivers of coil stock in it. Winter isn’t great for fleece washing, either….I don’t want to clog the sewer with lanolin, and I know this fleece will have a fair amount. But now it is spring, and I can do initial cold soaks outside, and let the hot water baths cool, and dump it all on my flower gardens, who will love the extra goodies.
As you can see, there are many colors in the fleece….here are five I grabbed. I can’t wait to turn this into….a Fair Isle sweater? Woven fabric for a jacket? Something I haven’t though of yet? Or maybe several somethings from each of the colors. I can’t wait to see what they look like when they are clean! Look at the crimp! Delicious!
That is going to take a while, though. As you can see, the fleece is quite disorganized, and many tips are sunburned. There is a lot of hay and…um…other things in it. I grabbed an area of light color, and filled my 6 little lingerie bags, they are now soaking in cold water in buckets. I’ll let them go a few hours, then change the water and leave them overnight. Tomorrow, I’ll do the hot soapy washes. Yay!
Edited to add: I’ve had a few questions now on the cold soaks. A lot of what is on the fleece is pee/poo and basic barnyard dirt. These will all come off fine with cool water, and the soaking time lets it loosen. I can’t felt my fiber, as the water is cold, and I’m not agitating anything, just letting it soak. My first rinse was a nasty yellowish brown after just 2 hours, and there is not a lot of wool in each bucket….maybe 12 ounces. My hostas are loving their ‘tea’.
I’ll be doing the hot water washing inside, since the water temperature would drop too quickly outside. My family appreciates that I’m not heating up manure in the house. 🙂