Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The blind leading the blind

If you have come here looking either for information about the visually impaired, or about washing fleece, go back to your search results. This site won't help you with either one.


Truly none of us knew what we were doing. We are competent knitters who have never processed fleece before. We meet every Tuesday for knitting and fun. This Tuesday we had been "invited" by one of our members, Michael to partake in the fun of washing some fleece. Most of us had never even seen raw fleece before. Some years before Michael had acquired two Angora goats, who live in Montana and are tended by her nephew. Once or twice a year she gets the fleece from the two goats "Scruffy" and "Mr. Clean."  We were soon to learn how they got their names. Though I'm not so sure about Mr. Clean.

After a some fortifying coffee and yummy home-made cinnamon rolls we headed out to the back yard to get started. We were met there by piles and bags of dirty fleece.


Here's a close-up. Lovely, hunh?


Michael's husband had set things up for us. (We were told he had to work that day. Likely story!) 1663

We donned gloves and started by pulling the vegetable matter out of the fleece. This was a bit tedious. We threw piles of matted fleece in the trash bin, thinking it was beyond hopeless. Here Iris, Jody and Ann are diligently working at the piles of fleece.

When we had a pile ready, we put it in a bin and added hot water and a squirt of soap.


After a measured (not) amount of soaking Michael and Jody dumped it out on the grass, thus assuring a soggy wet spot in the middle of the yard.


Can you tell from the photo above who is the smartest in the group?  Yeah the one who knew to wear rubber boots.  On the other hand perhaps it is me. I had the foresight to bring a camera and designate myself the official photographer, thus keeping a safe distance from the mud.


Second or third washing. It's getting cleaner.


Half an hour and more washings later. Still cleaner.


Add another 2 Tablespoons of soap, Iris.  Perfect!


Ann and me, transferring the fleece to a clean bin.  "Hey give me back my camera!"  By this time we had several bins going. We had decided to skip the first tedious step and just throw the unpicked fleece in the hot water.

At this point someone suggested we should let it soak longer.

Time for lunch!

Now we are in familiar territory.


Michael knows how to cook and the rest of us knew just what to do with her lovely buffet.


Squash bisque, grapes, chicken salad, croissants, cheese, crackers and tapenade.  (Now you know why we agreed to do this.)

All too soon, it was time to return to the fleece.


When it looked like this we decided it was done.

1682Here is what the first batch looked like spread out on a screen to dry.

1683We had several batches going by this time.1687 Michael spinning the fleece before setting it out to dry.


Michael and Jody are pleased with the day's accomplishment.


Would you have thought it would come out this white?


Michael's husband showed up later, no doubt feeling guilty about having been "at work" all day and set up some window screens because the one we had set up wasn't anywhere near enough space.


And for comparison, this is what we started with. Actually this is one of the piles we didn't process.  Michael is already planning another "luncheon" for next spring.

Michael and Jody carded some of the cleaned fleece and they say it is beautiful. I don't have pictures, so you'll just have to take their word for it. I'm interested in finding out how it spins up, because I came home and looked up websites that gave detailed instructions and exact temperatures necessary to process Angora. It sounded very complicated and I doubt I would have had the confidence to try if I'd read those first. So--I hope to have an update some day on what happens to this fleece next.


And Michael, check with me before you schedule the next "luncheon."  I want to be there. I'll bring my camera again.