Wash Me

I was listening to the new KnitPicks podcast and hearing the owner wax poetic about her years of buying a fleece in the spring, dyeing it in the summer, carding it in the fall and spinning and knitting with it all winter long. Doesn’t that just sound dreamily wholesome and organized? I imagined myself in a kaftan, with the wind blowing my long golden locks as the strains of “Age of Aquarius” played softly in the background…

In the middle of that daydream, I looked across to the piles of wool in my barn. The piles of wool that were sheared back in March. The rancid, as of yet unwashed and soon to be mouse bedding piles of wool.

It being a warm day, I set about washing the wool in huge plastic tubs. Some notes here:

1) If you rebuild your deck and have to move a faucet because of this, adding an outside “hot” faucet is an amazingly fine thing. (I stole this renovation idea from Suzanne Pedersen of Madrona Fiber Arts.)

2) Use very hot water to wash the wool, as only water above 160 degrees Fahrenheit will dissolve the lanolin.

3) Use an excellent degreaser, such as Dawn dish soap to get the dirt out.

4) DO NOT AGITATE

[img_assist|nid=6|title=|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=640|height=484]Let’s review item #4. Have I ever accidentally felted wool before? Why yes. In a sink, in the tub, in (to my husband’s horror) the washing machine. Do I know better? Absolutely!

So why on earth did I join my three-year-old son in enthusiastically poking the hot and soapy wool with a stick?

I blame the imaginary sound track…

So, some very clean and slightly felted wool. It’s not irretrievable. With a little effort you can pull the locks apart. I am convinced the magic of wool combs can save it. (If you’ve never combed wool instead of carded it, the way combs can rescue trash wool is rather astounding.

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