This is the way we wash our wool…

I wanted to detail how I washed this wool a little more, and since I took photos and video of the process now’s the time.

20120709 Washing Wool 006

Wool in four tulle packets

I plucked out locks of wool, prime wool from the center back of the fleece and tucked them into tulle packets. Each of the locks was arranged in the same direction, with the brown tips facing up. I folded the tulle down over the top, then up from the bottom in a little envelope. I didn’t bother to seal the ends. I was out of safety pins, and knew that since I was only washing a few packets that it really didn’t matter.

I filled the roasting pan with water that was as hot as my tap would get (I should have measured the temperature, but I didn’t), and then put in enough blue Dawn dishwashing liquid that the water looked blue tinged, and was slightly slick to the touch. Then I lay the packets into the water. I did push them down a bit with the back of a wooden spoon. The water was really too hot to submerge my fingers in.

I let the packets sit in the water for 15 minutes. Not so long that the water cooled enough to redeposit the lanolin, but long enough to get a good soak, to get the dirt out, at least a start.

20120709 Washing Wool 002

Yellow, lanolin filled water

This is the water after that first soak. YUCK!

The yellow is lanolin. That good stuff that goes into… well almost everything from cosmetics to hand cream to hair care products. Lanolin is the grease that helps to keep the fibers in good condition.

You can spin wool “in the grease”, with the dirt and lanolin left in, but I’m not a big fan of that.

20120709 Washing Wool 003

Another view of that yellow water

Gross, right? Sheep really are dirty, disgusting creatures with beautiful, useful fleece.

Lock packets in hot water with Dawn

See the water? Much less yellow and cloudy.

After a second wash with Dawn, the water is much cleaner. It’s in fact clean enough that I’m ok with just rinsing from now on.

A rinse is just hot water, the same temperature that the washes were done in. Soak the fiber packets for 15 minutes again.

I did two washes and two rinses for this fiber. This means that it took me about an hour and  a half to wash the packets. I could easily have done eight packets as I own two of these roasting pans. It wouldn’t have taken much longer.

Helpful hints: Separate the locks out into finger sized widths. They dry faster that way, and seem to get a bit cleaner.

Drying will take anywhere from 2 – 24 hours, depending on the humidity.

If the photos weren’t enough for you, I’ve made a little video that details the process: