April 5, 2014
Good morning, and happy Saturday! It looks like spring is finally here, and it’s about time! All of the snow is finally melted away in the yard and I can see the teeny tiny tips of my hostas, lilies, and irises just starting to peek through the dirt. Now that the snow is gone, I can see all of the cleaning up I need to do in the yard too, much of it from the dogs. They’re glad the snow is gone too. They’ve been able to spend much more time outside, especially when I get home from work. They enjoy getting to know the yard again after such a long winter, and have been spending time sniffing every part of the yard, stopping frequently to re-mark their territory. It’s quite fun to watch.
I’m moving a little slower than usual this morning because I was up quite late last night. My Friday nights are usually pretty dull, with most of my time spent starting the laundry which usually continues straight through until Sunday evening. Last night was a little different because there was an extra load of wash that I rarely do. I decided it was time to start washing some of the white wool that I had acquired last summer, so I spent much of the evening (in between loading the washer and dryer) sitting on the living room floor with some of the bag of locks that I had picked out of the bag a few months ago.
I tried to pull out the nicest looking locks first, and used one of my hand cards to try and flick open the sticky, matted ends so that I could get them as clean as possible. Since I wasn’t sure how much this would help, I only filled one of the two lingerie bags that I use for washing wool with the flicked locks to see if the effort I put into opening up the tips was worth it. The other was filled with un-flicked locks. I don’t even know how much in raw weight I started with, since I never weighed the bags before washing. I simply filled them up until I thought I had enough in each.
Having been forbidden to ever wash wool in the bathtub again, I used some inexpensive plastic tubs that I purchased late last summer at the Christmas Tree Shop. My intent was follow a friend’s advice and drill holes in the bottom of one of the plastic tubs so that I could submerge it inside another tub full of hot soapy water, and then lift it out to let the water drain without unnecessarily agitating and potentially felting my wool. That didn’t go as intended. The plastic bottom cracked and split when I tried to drill holes in it. Lucky for me I had extra!
Using two of the plastic tubs, I put the locks through two washes and two rinses. When I washed the bit of brown wool last summer, I only did one wash and one rinse, and I don’t think the water was hot enough, which was why the wool was still greasy and sticky feeling when it was done. We had the water heater replaced in November, so our hot water out of the tap is much hotter now, but I still supplemented it with water heated in my giant stock pot on the stove. That really helped this time, as did a much more generous squirt of plain blue Dawn dish soap in each wash.
Both bags of wool were carefully and gently submerged into each wash and rinse, allowed to sit for a bout half an hour each, then just as carefully and gently lifted out so as not to felt any of the wool. I placed both bags in my washing machine and set it on the spin cycle to get as much water out. That works wonderfully! When I laid out the wool to dry on the floor in the guest room, I was really pleased to see how clean each lock was, and how easily they separated, meaning my careful and gentle handling during the washing and rinsing paid off. It was hard to tell if there was any residual lanolin left on the wool since it was still damp, so I’d have to wait until it was dry to see. To speed that process up, I placed an air circulating fan in the room and left them to dry. That was at about midnight or so last night. It feels completely dry this morning at 6AM, but I’ll still give it a few more hours with the fan today, and start carding this afternoon.
Flicking open the tips of the locks did help with getting the tips cleaner. You can see a difference in the picture above between the locks spread out on each towel. As the tips get opened up further, they don’t appear to be as weathered and discolored as I thought so I’ll have to see how they do in the drum carder and make a sample first. I’ve seen Judith MacKenzie suggest snipping off the weathered tips if they are too discolored or fragile. I’ll give that a try and card a sample of that and compare the two.
So now it’s on to this morning’s spinning. I’m not sure yet if I want to start on the second half of the orange colored Rambouillet or if I want to continue with the violet colored roving from Spinners Hill that I started last Saturday. Both are such a pleasure to spin. I’m leaning towards the violet roving because when I sat down to spin one nigh earlier this week, I had trouble finding my groove with it again, so there are a few yards on the thicker end of the bobbin that is significantly different than what I had done last weekend. It may be hard to see in the picture, but trust me, it just isn’t the same.
That’s it for me this morning. In between playing with fiber today I may have to spend a bit of time getting started on my spring yard cleanup. That all depends on the weather. I’m still seeing some reports that are suggesting some rain today. If that’s the case, I may get a whole day of playing with fiber, and that’s not such a bad thing.
Enjoy your weekend everyone!