Sunday, 3 February 2013

Fleece prep or getting mucky on a Saturday morning

Hi Guys,

Now Eleanor has been asking me for some time for a more detailed post about how a prepare and dye fleece so today I will take you through the smelly bit and I will go into different dyeing effects in a later post. Saturday mornings are usually my fleece washing times simply because I tend to have the hot water on for other things as well, also hubby is often out the way so reducing the chances of me soaking him with a bucket of water!

Talking about buckets....I use a large flexible builders type bucket as it is easier to carry over to the garden to empty out and I have smaller buckets to half fill it.

FIRSTLY CAN I SAY THAT THIS RAW FLEECE , WEAR GLOVES AND CHECK THAT YOUR ANTI TETANUS JAB IS UP TO warning out of the way, here we go ( BTW a close friend of mine found barbed wire in one pack of fleece so warning is needed)

So first step is to buy some fleece, usually I'm able to pick some up at the local guild or fibre festivals. I've made a few mistakes over the years but now have a better idea what to look for. I also have a copy of the Fleece and Fibre Sourcebook  which is pretty much a fleece bible with around 200 breeds photos of the locks, spun yarn, knitted and woven yarn. I have a couple of etsy and ebay sellers that I use as well.

This mornings package comes from an ebay seller that I have not used before but the combination of excellent feedback from people buying multiple lots of fleece, the half price sale and a small amount of money in my paypal account from selling some hand spun made me take a gamble. This pack contains 2KG of raw Romney Fleece.

Its pretty much the cleanest fleece I've seen for a while and a whole new breed for me to play with,  the book says that its easy to spin,dyes well and fine fleece can be used for sweaters, mittens , hats, shawls though prob not next to the skin soft unless lambs wool.This is a shearling, the first ever shearing of a sheep so pretty soft. No a whole fleece but the nice bits !!
Here you can see the length of the individual lock. As I have so much to play with, I pulled out around 500 grams, checked it wasn't felted at all and divided it into to large mesh washing bags.

I use a good squirt of fairy washing up liquid and very hot water the hottest water from the heater plus a kettle full of boiling water as I want to melt the lanolin as well as remove the dirt. The bags are placed in the water and left to soak, no agitation as I really do not want anything to felt.

After one or two really hot washes, usually max 15 mins each in winter temperatures and several hot rinses I'm let with cleaner fleece and my heart in my mouth as wet fleece never shows whether its felted or not and always looks really dark at the tips. Now for the next stage I generally cheat, I have an old washing machine and the spin programme does not squirt water onto the clothes or spin in both directions to settle the load. This makes it ideal for spinning out the water from the fleece.
So I tie the bags tightly and chuck them in and spin them one at a time.
Result, clean, damp fleece ready to go out on the line ( in the bag) or in a warm room to dry out though not today as I will be dying it first..............more about that in a later post.

If you have any question etc about spinning and fibres, please feel free to contact me through the shop email address.

Now I've bored you senseless, I will let you get back to usual knitting blog posts :-)



  1. I had one of these fleece too, Did I need another fleece? well no, I am up to here with fleece.... but it looked so good with a long staple, I didn't even wash mine, I like spinning in the grease, what a lovely spin it was, like spinning butter...! have you tried spinning yours yet, it will easily spin as fine wool or chunky, I loved it, and knitting it, it is an aran style jacket now and I will "probably" have another before long, Happy spinning.. Maureen.

  2. I've never tried spinning in the grease mainly becuse I tend to spin in public a lot and try to keep raw fleece away from prying fingers :-) So far I've been combing out, feels lovely I will do a test spin/ply sometime this evening. Certainly worth the money x

    oops realised I'm posting as Guzzisue rather than Knit Nottingham, nevermind, most peeps know who I am :-D