Jobo Designs

Letting the crafty creative juices flow. Knitting, spinning, crafting, dyeing, rabbits, sheep and more!

14. January 2011 09:48
by Jobo

Scouring Shetland

14. January 2011 09:48 by Jobo | 0 Comments

I purchased 2 lb of Raw Shetland Fleece back at the Maritime Handspinner's Retreat in October last year... and it has been waiting patiently for me to get my act together and start scouring it! 

Really for this fleece, scouring is a bit of a misnomer... it was super clean to begin with!  The fleece was very heavily skirted before I bought it, so there really aren't any "waste" bits.  I only saw one little bit of poo, and very little vegetable matter in the quick sift through the bag.  The fleece smells mildly sheepy, I guess you could say sheepy in a "good" way.  I tried just flicking open a lock and spinning from that in the grease, and it was actually quite pleasant.  Even still though, where I intend to make myself a sweater from it, I thought I should wash it first, and do things the usual way.  I was worried that the lanolin wouldn't come out fully if I spun the yarn first and scoured after. 

Because I wasn't really worried about dissolving a large amount of dirt for this fleece, I decided to wash it by the heaping handful in lingerie bags in the kitchen sink.  (I plan on installing one of those large wash basin laundry sinks in my basement someday, but not soon enough to wash this fleece)  The bags themselves are just cheap net with a zipper at one end... I think I bought them at the dollar store.  I stuffed the bags mostly full with fleece without really packing it in.  When the wool gets wet it really compresses down, so even though the bags looked fairly full, after they hit the hot water... flat as a pancake!

For really dirty fleeces, apparently you have to be a lot more fussy about what detergent you use.  I just used a healthy squirt of Dawn dish detergent in my first sink for this batch.  I used tap water as hot as the little furnace could churn out, and then added a kettle full of boiling water to it for good measure.  Then I just set the bags on the surface, and as the locks absorbed the water, they sank and soaked.  I didn't want the water to get too cold between soakings (temperature shocks = felting hazard!)  so I left the bags to soak for about 30 minutes, then replaced the water.  I only used soap in the first soak, then continued on with plain hot water for 3 more soaks, at about 30 minutes each.  At this point, the locks had lost their sticky feel and the water ran clear.  I let the bags drip as long as I could stand, and then laid them out on towels to drain some more.  It didn't take long for the towels to get wet... wool holds a lot of water!  I left the locks out on a mesh sweater dryer rack to finish the drying process... which I expect to take a few days at minimum.  The air is dry at our house right now, so the extra water evaporating into the air will likely be a soothing influence.

I expect that washing this entire fleece will take 3 more sessions of scouring... my mesh drying rack is pretty small, so I have to do small batches and let them dry in between.  Next time I go to the dollar store, I'll have to look for some more of the bags and racks! 

Here is a shot of this session drying on the rack... mmm curly crimpy soft wooly goodness!

shetland fleece drying jan 14 2011

14. June 2010 10:00
by Jobo

Jacob Fleece... mmmmm sheepy goodness!

14. June 2010 10:00 by Jobo | 2 Comments

While browsing on Etsy some time ago... I came across a listing for a hand spinner's fleece from Barking Rock Farm.  I have tried preparing raw fleece for spinning before, with varying degrees of success.  Some of the "experiments" were less than fantastic results, but considering the dirt/vegetable contamination of some of my free fleeces, I really wasn't sure if it was the fleeces' fault, or the wanna-be-spinners' lack of skill.

I decided that since this fleece was reasonably priced, and specifically targeting hand spinners with the guarantee that the fleece was very well picked, was super clean, had no vegetable matter, and was ready to wash and spin - oh heck!  why not.  Order that sucker up!

jacob fleece cube

Well lookie at what arrived this week!  this Fleece-Cube weighs around 4 pounds... and is so clean it hardly has a sheepy smell to it!  One of the first fleeces I got, I had to pick tons of manure and small trees out of it... but this stuff is Pristine!  The wool is from a Jacob Sheep, which is actually a black and white animal, so you get both colors growing side by side.  I should be able to get some plain white and black areas, and hopefully some blended grays also where the locks are half and half. 

I think my neighbors must think I am insane (as if this is the only nutso thing I've ever done while living there lol...) because as soon as I dumped the box out on the front walkway, I couldn't help it - I unrolled the whole thing and started digging through it.  To me, this looked like a beautiful pile of wooly wonderfulness... to any other unknowing person, it might have looked like I had a ginormous pile of black and white ??? on the lawn?  What is that stuff... and why is she cooing and humming to herself?  and why does she keep on tearing little bits off and putting them in a basket? 

jacob fleece whitejacob fleece black 

To give you an idea of the length and fineness of the locks... here are a black and a white one:

The locks vary from 3ish to 5ish inches... though I have not gotten out my ruler to confirm the exact measurement.


Even in the grease, the locks are so soft and clean that I can spread them out between my fingers and draft.  I would say that there is really only sheep sweat and a little lanolin on there, not really any serious "dirt" to speak of.  At this point, I knew I couldn't just pack up the rest of the fleece and wait until later to process it.  I went up to the studio, grabbed a white plastic basket, and started tearing off black locks and set out to give them a rinse...

jacob fleece black basket

The black section (which I was instantly drawn to) seems to be around half of the fleece... and has various shades of Brown and Black which I think will card together to make a soft heathered dark brown.   The locks are strong and cleaner than anything else I have ever seen.  After soaking the basket in some lukewarm water for about a half an hour, much of the so-called dirt had dissolved.  I did one Dawn Dishsoap bath and then rinsed a few times with hot water, and really this fleece didn't need much more washing than that. 

I laid out the locks on a mesh sweater dryer and with the great drying conditions we have had the last few days, the wool is already dry.  I carded up a small basket full and it is Heavenly.  Soft.  Lofty.  Light.  Beautiful.  As far as technique, I just flicked open the tips of each lock and then gave small batches of opened locks a light carding in one direction on my Ashford Hand Cards and dizzed the fiber off.  I wish I had combs for the job, but for now all I have is carders, or drum carding.  I think this fiber would be lovely combed into top.  Stay tuned this week for an article about dizzing off some fiber from hand cards.  It isn't perfect, but I more or less get something that resembles top, just not very long lengths at a time!

I didn't have time to wash any white, but I hope to do that asap.... more to come!

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