Fiber Arts & Furry Critters

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

The air is like soup; the temps are fairly high, and the dewpoint is very high. This makes me very tired; I'm really dragging, and I have very little initiative to do anything. I've done a couple of the garter stitch dishcloths, just to keep my hands busy while I read online; I've done I think six rows of the crab-and-seahorse charts on the Creatures of the Reef shawl. I haven't taken Trinity for a run in a couple of days because of constant rain, and I didn't go to dog class tonight either. Just when you think it has stopped raining, the skies open up and it pours. I haven't even touched the lathe in two days now. In this weather, the cellar (where the workshop is) is unbearable.

I do, however, have some actual fiber content!

Despite the fact that in this soupy weather, wool will probably take about a week to dry, I got started on my two merino fleeces. I took enough from each to fill a one-gallon ziploc baggie (turned out to be about 5 oz each). I weighed them, and wrote the weights on the ziplocs, because I'm curious to see how much each one loses in the washing. Then I washed each batch, in the kitchen sink with the hottest water that comes out of the pipes - and it's very hot! Hot enough for me to decide I need something heavier or more insulating than the extra-heavy-duty gloves I picked up.

These are the two batches before washing:

This is Henry, the 19-micron merino I got from Rocking Double A (ad in the back of Spin-Off). Very little VM, but a lot of fine grit. A few second cuts, but not enough to worry me, and it was a very good price.

This is a 14-micron fleece from Melanda Park. Short staple length, but not alarminly so. Dusty but not filthy, next to NO vm, no second cuts at all that I've seen so far (which is really just a few handfuls).

Both of them seemed to come very clean. Time will tell if I got all the lanolin out as they dry, but I did one small handful of Henry before, and it came out very clean. I have a double-sided sink; I fill both sides with water as hot as I can get it, and put Dawn dish detergent (a lot) in one side; put the fleece in (remember, this is enough to fill, without cramming, a 1-gal ziploc). I push it under with a wooden spoon, and let it soak a few minutes. Let the water out; squeeze out what water I can from the fleece, and put it in the second sink. While it soaks in the second sink (first rinse), I refill the first sink, and repeat. I usually do one wash and 3 rinses. For very dirty fleeces, I've been known to do: first wash, one or two rinses, a second wash, then 3 rinses. I want to make sure I get all the soap out. This stuff, even though it looks like it has pretty dirty tips, only needed one wash. The first rinse was pretty dirty, too, but the water for the second & third rinses was pretty clear (except for some very fine dirt and a few second cuts, from Henry). I did each batch separately, and now I need to think about processing. The tiny bit of Henry that I washed before, I did up on my two-pitch combs, but combing just seems to take so much effort (and so much fleece) to get to the end product. On the other hand, I think if I card it, I may end up with neps.


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