Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Scouring raw fiber

Last October, I posted about being gifted three bags of raw wool. I decided that mid-winter was a fine time to process one of those bags. Not one of my better decisions.

I selected the bag labeled "Lazarus 2015" and dumped the contents onto my dining room table (after covering the table with an old sheet). Each bag must hold an entire fleece, and an entire fleece is ginormous. It is also kind of stinky. I decided the other fleeces can wait until it is warm enough to work on them outside or at least in the garage.

This fleece (and I assume the others) was filthy. There wasn't much sheep dung or vegetable matter (VM) in the fleece, but there was a LOT of caked on mud. The underside looked fairly clean, but the ends of the locks were solid dirt.

Sometimes a fleece is not worth processing (there is a reason it is free), but the fiber had a nice crimp. I showed it to my fiber friend Betty and her opinion is the source may be merino because the fiber is very fine. And soft.

I took a look at a YouTube video on skirting a fleece, which was helpful in deciding what to just discard. I also performed the "ping" or "snap" test - hold a lock of fiber at each end and tug, to make sure the fiber is strong and has no weak spots. This fiber passed the test.

For the actual scouring, I relied a lot on this post by Beth Smith. While the directions on the bottle of Power Scour recommended 2T per pound of wool, Beth uses half that. I followed her example and that seemed to do the trick. I also started out processing just one pound at a time, but by the end, I was working two pounds per soak. On the one hand, one pound is easier to handle; on the other, there is a lot of fiber to process and I became impatient to get that fleece off my dining room table.

Needless to say, my house is not really set up for processing a fleece. Many years ago I purchased some aluminum screens from the local ReStore shop (for a gardening idea that never came to fruition). They are handy for drying wool even though they don't really fit anywhere convenient. Again, if it were warm outside, they could be in the garage.

I'll post separately about subsequent processing steps. Needless to say, ALL my fiber tools are going to get a work out and I will get LOTS of practice using them. Quite the learning experience!

1 comment:

Wanderingcatstudio said...

That's a lot of work! I hope you get some beautiful fibre from it!