Adventures in washing my first fleece......

9:27 AM

I've been spinning for over 2 years now and have been wanting to process my own fleece for a while. I guess it was a natural progression and the next rabbit hole to go down in my fibery pursuits. I searched the web and read many accounts of how others wash their fleeces, I talked to my fellow guild members and they shared their opinions and I also watched some youtube videos  and all of these thing were very helpful. So I gathered some supplies and just decided to go for it.

I had purchased 1 lb of corriedale from a seller on etsy a few months ago. It was washed and the pictures showed an amazing color. When I received the fiber it was washed but still had a lot of lanolin in it and so I decided to wash it again. It was a coated fleece and had no VM (vegetable matter) at all but I did not want to spin in the grease so more washing was necessary.

locks aligned and ready to wash

With this fleece I decided I wanted to preserve the lock structure for easier combing. I began making piles of locks all aligned with the tips pointing the same way.

I then placed these locks in neat piles inside mesh laundry bags. I filled a large plastic tub with hot tap water. Our tap water gets really hot and so I did not need to boil water to get it above 120 degrees. I squirted Dawn dish soap into the water about 1/3 cup and then placed my mesh bags into the water. I left this to soak for 25 minutes (approx. as I got distracted with other projects a few times)


After 25 minutes I took the bags out and gently squeezed the soapy water out of them. I then placed them into another tub of hot water to rinse. Another 25 minutes went by and then I repeated this procedure with another rinse soak.

When they were rinsed well I laid the bags on a towel and rolled them up to gently squeeze the water out of them.

I then pulled out my locks and laid them on wire shelves to dry in the sun. It was very breezy and they dried really fast.

A couple notes......water temp is important and must be kept high to melt the lanolin. It also must be kept constant or the cooler water will make the lanolin hard again and very difficult to get out. I only needed one wash with this fleece as it was already pretty clean....other fleeces might need more. Do not agitate the fiber in the water or it can felt.

washed locks
One benefit of working with a raw fleece are super soft hands from the lanolin!

I enjoyed this process a lot. I am really happy with the resulting fiber and can  not wait to process it. I will have another post on combing and spinning it.

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  1. looks like a lot of work but I bet it was rewarding. I admire spinners who do everything from sheep to yarn!!

  2. this is v. helpful. looking forward to getting going on mine, but let me tell you, mine are full of VM and were not coated. a lot of washing ahead perhaps!!


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