One Woman and her sink!
The alpacas have been sheared and for the first time, I’ve decided to hand prepare the fleece. The reason is that I want this batch to be woollen spun into our Medium yarn and Paul at Halifax Spinning needs washed fibre. Looking at prices for companies who can do this for small batch runs makes the end yarn price too expensive, hence my decision to DIY. Shouldn’t be that hard, right?
I started with Lima:
Step 1, Skirt the fleece and remove all debris – I’ve been doing this for years, so no problem there
Step 2, Soak the fleece in cold water – the first attempt is like trying to drown a cork, blasted stuff keeps floating!
Step 3, Open up the staple so the water can permeate into the individual fibre – clawing at it is really good as an upper arm exercise
Step 4, Drain off, squeeze out excess water and spread fleece over surface of sink – fantastic having a bespoke sink for doing this
Step 5, repeat steps 2, 3 and 4,
Step 6, Boil a kettle full of water, pour it into a washing up bowl, add a dollop of shampoo and fill the rest of the bowl with cold water
Step 7, Pour over squeezed fleece and leave soaking for about 30 minutes
Step 8, Agitate, squeeze and wash fleece in the same way you do your hair – I have long hair, I understand how to do this…
Step 9, Rinse all the yuk out until water runs clean
Step 10, Repeat steps 6, 7, 8, and 9,
Step 11, One final rinse breaking up the fibre into small segments so you are really sure all the dirt and any grease is totally removed
Step 12, Put into laundry bags and spin off excess water – Have a really good spin dryer for this
Step 13, Dry flat – I’m using a Victoria airer which stands about waist height and has spokes that open out. Using old net curtains, I pegged them onto the spokes making a much larger flat area, over 5′ diameter; having spread out the wet fleece, I fluff up and fill the space available. I then peg another net curtain over the top to prevent my hard work being blown away. (Ha! with the change in the weather, I’m drying the fibre in a conservatory!)
Step 14, Leave in the sunshine until next fleece is washed and ready to be dried. (Hmm, started this before the weather changed!)
Step 15, Move first batch of fleece to an open lattice work table where it can continue to air dry
Step 16, Put in laundry bags to continue air drying for 24 hours
Step 17, Put back in named bag ready to go to the mill
Sounds exhausting doesn’t it? It was, particularly as I can only do about 1 kilo at a time and 3 sets per day!
Having a rethink, maybe some of those companies aren’t so expensive after all!