Washing the Flocks by Night

Filed under Misheard Lyrics: Shepherds washing their socks by night. The book was written by a college friend, and immediately got filed under "Ideas I Sure Wish I'd Thought Of Myself." But that's not today's topic, or at least, not exactly.

Rather, today I have fleece-washing photos (and lots of them). Since Beth had taught me how to wash a fleece, I thought I'd try it myself on Thorn's wool. Take-aways include: 1) sheep really are quite dirty (yes, I would be too if I wore the same coat for six months), 2) the process is rather time-consuming, and 3) it was less fun here at home than when I did it with her at The Spinning Loft. I did enumerate what Beth taught me previously, so will not repeat those details here.

For the sake of scientific inquiry, I documented the entire process in pictures this time and will now show you how we got from here:

Thorn, who is a white Icelandic sheep

to here:

Freshly cleaned Thorn fleece drying in the evening sun

I warn you, though...if you're not interested in fiber, you will be thoroughly bored by the following and quite likely fall asleep, so I will bid you adieu and wish you happy weekend; or perhaps see you tomorrow when we will return to our regularly scheduled programming of some sickeningly cute baby animals, silly cats, or possibly some knitting content (I finished my shrug about two weeks ago for instance, if I can only persuade Mr. O'Kitten to get a photo, and have just a wee bit of sleeve left of my first sweater). Now, to commence.

Paul shears Thorn. Don't do this on a big mound of hay like we're doing here. Put down a tarp or a sheet or something, because the nice, lanolin-rich fleece picks up all the loose hay from the barn floor. (Live and learn...)

Thorn, after shearing.

First washing. See, I told you sheep were dirty.

Second wash. Better already.

After the first rinse.

Second rinse.

After the third rinse, it really does look pretty clean.

Now here's what came out after the first wash. I used a rubber screen gadget to prevent clogs and angry landlords. Pretty gross. (The rust stains are part of the tub, and can't be blamed on the sheep.)

After the second wash.

After the first rinse.

Second rinse.

And finally, after the third and last rinse.

The wool itself after the first wash.

After the second wash.

And after the last rinse.

Soggy wool ready to be put out to dry.

At last, clean fleece drying on a hardware screen.

This week, Beth ran some of Thorn's fleece through her drum carder and made two nice batts for me, but that's another post (and a far less tedious one, I promise). So stay tuned.


Lavender said...

Another Fantastic Post & Pics - I hope you will post about what you will do next with the wool, Cheers!

Gattina said...

I swear I didn't fall asleep, just the opposite, it was very interesting for me because I have never seen that ! But I could imagine that the fleece was quite dirty. Poor Thorn looks half of himself since he joined the club of nudists.

Chris said...

Um, I did skip most of it. :) Not something I'm interested in doing. But sounds like it will be s good resource!

MsFortuknit said...

Amazing hunney bunney! Its been insane you know how we get during our friendly visit, but I did leave a message! Miss you!

Puss-in-Boots said...

That washing of flocks by night reminds me of a line from a song by one of our Australian singers. The line is "cheap wine and a three day growth" but someone reckons it's "cheap wine and a three legged goat"!

Great photos of the washing of the fleece process. It's pretty time consuming, isn't it?

Have a great week!

jessie said...

It's amazing, isn't it? I once acquired a chocolate-brown fleece that was beautiful. Once scoured, it turned out to be white.

Who knew?