I have been rather politely asked to write a series of blog posts for the lovely people at Wilderwolf.net relating to Wool and all the crazy things that I do with it.

Many of you aren’t yet addicted to playing with wool yet. That’s ok, I can work with that. There are so many ways to play with wool that one way or another you can all benefit by starting yourself or sneakily aligning with a perosn who is already in thrall.

Freshly Shorn

Freshly Shorn Wool

Today I’m simply going to talk about wool just off the sheep, or in many cases straight from a store that gets it from a sheep. Processed wool will not need this process.
This is not for VERY dirty wool but your wool will generally be filthy, stinky, oily and more than likely matted in patches. Not a particularly endearing image is it? The good thing is that with a few simple steps you can turn this disgusting stinky mass into lovely soft wool just begging to be spun.

You will need
2 large sheets
wool scourer or simple dish washing liquid (something basic with no ‘active enzyme’ type additions)
bathtub (the one in your bathroom should be fine!)

1) Take a large sheet that you’re happy to be rid of and throw the fleece onto it. You want to spread it out as much as you can to see the whole fleece.

2) There will be some very distinctive matted wool particularly toward the edges. This needs to be removed and thrown out. If you are unsure, try to separate the strands of wool. If you really need to tug then it isn’t worth your time, ditch it. Dont try to ‘save’ patches of wool at this point, you are more likely to end up screaming in frustration during later steps.

3) Fill your bathtub with cool water, and a generous squirt of dishwashing liquid. You should have enough water that the fleece can float or shift, the wool will drink multiple times its own weight.

4) Place your fleece in the bathtub and walk away. Do something else. Come back in about 30 minutes and GENTLY lift the fleece out of the water, let it drip, then replace it in the water. Do this 4-5 times. Drain your tub.

5) Repeat steps 3-4 (DO NOT refil tub with wool sitting in it, you WILL felt your wool). Do not rush. Aggitating the wool will felt it. Squeezing or wringing the wool will felt it. Alternating between cool and hot water will felt it. Looking at it wrong will quite possibly felt it, so just take your time.

6) When the water runs clear you have cleaned your wool! At this point you can either use a very low spin setting in an upright washing machine to drain excess water and speed up drying time or just spread your sheet outside with your wool spread out on it, place the other sheet on top and weight it down.

Congratulations, your stinky dirty wool is now soft and ready for spinning!

-The Fiber Junkie

**Wool Image By Rob (Shorn Wool) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons**


3 Responses to Cleaning Wool

  1. LvsChant says:

    Wow! I am so happy to learn this stuff. I learned to the basics of how to spin on a homemade spinning wheel my Dad made as a child, but never learned how to clean the wool.

  2. Trace Adams says:

    We were just discussing the pros and cons of owning sheep (and/or llamas in the future – is it the same for llama wool?). I’m excited about this series to see how to handle and use the wool properly, this part here certainly looks easy enough. Maybe it’s a sign..

  3. Looking at it wrong will quite possibly felt it, so just take your time.
    LOL! How true!
    If you leave the fleece outside to dry be sure to put another sheet over top of it, otherwise you may have birds snatching away bits of it for their nests. Had that happen to me one time. Unfortunately I had to sell my wheel to pay some unexpected bills so I don’t get to play with wool like I used to.

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