Sunday, 1 September 2013

Washing Fleece

It’s been a glorious summer when I ought to have been washing my fleeces for the winter but somehow there have been other things to do.

I have a Shetland fleece that is rather special. I chose it myself from the fleece store at Jamieson and Smith in Lerwick. I have spun some of it ‘in the grease’ to obtain a very fine yarn – in both respects ( more later perhaps)

The Shetland fleece – it does have a lot of lanolin etc in it and looks quite yellow!


However, I have decided that the fleece now needs washing for the winter. My aim is to maintain the crimp and some of the lanolin if possible. On doing some research I found the FSM (fermented suint method). I have not tried this before and decided, after much thinking, to try it with my Shetland fleece – well some of it. So I set up the bath just over a week ago and it seemed to be working well. I have now done lots of rinsing and spun it in the washing machine on a slow spin (in a pillow case to protect it). I am SO pleased with the result so far. The fleece is so white and there is some lanolin still present which should help the fine spinning considerably. I am amazed as I was very sceptical as to whether this would work.

The added advantages of this method are that only rainwater is used (at normal temperature) & it washes itself so to speak. The big disadvantage is the smell – not something to do inside the house!

‘So far, so good’ as the saying goes. So the next batch has gone in today and that should be done in 2 to 3 days, as I have set up the bath. You use the same water and apparently it gets better.

I’m so impressed that I have set up another bath with some of my lovely Jacob fleece from my friend Rebecca W in Norfolk. The fleece is not so oily so it might take longer to get the bath established.