Sunday, May 27, 2007

Wooly Wash

Yes, I’m still at it! I changed my mind and decided to keep one fleece that I almost chucked out. It had been foisted…er, I mean “gifted” to me quite some time back and I had never looked at it. Just stuffed it in a corner in the basement. After dumping it out on the deck I found a card stating that it came from New Zealand and was a Romney-cross. It’s mostly very light grey with a few darker locks (kinda like T-Man’s hair!) and a fairly open crimp but extremely long at 7 inches or so. Lots of sand came out in the washing machine. No, I didn’t wreck it! I used the machine just to soak and spin out water, no agitation, no felting, no clogging. The next load of towels will clean it right up. (Here’s one description that’s pretty close to how I do it.) You can’t do that in one of the new-fangled front loaders! Anyway, the fleece is all washed now and drying on the deck:

It’s kinda purty! Now that all the grease and dirt is out of it, it’s actually quite a nice fleece and softer than it first appeared. I can always get rid of it later if I change my mind again. I still have 2 different baby Corriedale fleeces separated in locks to wash yet. One needs re-washing because it’s very sticky and the other is still greasy. I’m kind of tired of washing wool right now though so it’s going to have to wait for my next burst of energy. It’s much more time-consuming to keep the lock formation intact and I need to experiment somewhat to see which method works better for these fleeces. I don’t want to either mess up the locks or have the stickiness come back to haunt me again.

While I was washing fleeces, I discovered to my disappointment that the dark brown one labeled “Baby Corriedale” has some areas with an enormous amount of kemp. Those are chalky white hairs that are coarse and brittle. Obviously not desirable in a fleece and usually selected against by the breeder. These ones show up closest to the shorn end of the locks. The rest of the wool is not very soft either and varies quite a bit in texture, length and colour over the amount that I have. I’m trying to figure out why I didn’t see this before and why I bought this poor-quality stuff? Actually it wasn’t just me — I shared half of it with a friend who never mentioned what she did with her half. Now I know why! There really isn’t all that much of it though so hopefully I can figure out what to use it for. Besides compost. Surprisingly the grey Romney-cross one is actually softer and silkier. Makes me even happier that I didn’t chuck it out.

I’m planning to create a notebook with each of my spinning fibres having its own page to keep notes on usage and a sample of the fibre. That way I can keep better track and I’ll know at a glance how much I have still available of each item. Even after I use it up, there’ll be a sample so I can feel it and check for quality and desirability against any future purchases. Sealing the samples inside Ziplocs might be a good idea too since my old notebook got visited by m*ths! (They especially love angora. Ask me how I know.) I also foolishly tried to staple in greasy fleece samples. Duh! Icky brown grease stains on the note pages. Not pretty. Smelly too. I’m older and wiser now. Older anyway. Of course if I was going to do this, while I actually had the stuff out and easily available might have been a good time for taking said samples, hey? Proves I’m obviously not wiser.

Not much else to report. I’m almost at the heels on both Tulip Socks. Haven’t cast on yet for the Plain Black Socks for my son-in-law. Got two whole repeats on the Fern Lace Scarf after having to frog an inch or so due to a glitch that I couldn’t figure out how to fix any other way. It’s not quite as easy to work on without concentrating as the tulip pattern which, although longer, is quite intuitive. In fact I haven’t looked at the pattern since the first repeat which is why I’m so far along on the socks.

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