Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Farmland Adventure! (or Washing Wool, part Un)

Okay fiber lovers, get excited! As promised, here is photo documentation of my woolly weekend with Amy! First things first, Amy's house is beautiful! So cute. Here's a view from the backyard:

While I was there Amy showed me the great assortment of naturally dyed wool roving she just received from Wool Farm Crafts.

She was making some really nice Christmas ornaments and I liked them a lot. I've been thinking about felting a nativity scene and seeing the ornaments convinced me to make my Christmas gifts this year.

After I admired Amy's digs and took the grand tour, we got down to business. Here's one of the two bags of wool that Chris and Amy sheared:

So we have plenty of raw material to work with! As you can see there is some sticks and leaves and junk in the wool. Luckily Amy had the good sense to not save the wool from around the butt. There was honestly tons of wool, so it would seem cruel to have to use the poopy stuff. Next we got started picking the big stuff out.

After we picked the wool sort of clean, we put it in lingerie bags, which we got 3 for a dollar at the dollar store. You can see the bag on the ground. After we filled our 9 bags, which in retrospect, we should have bought more bags, we were off to the laundry room. (As we were doing this I was reminded of the John Waters movie "Pecker" with Eddie Furlong and Christina Ricci. Christina Ricci works at a laundromat and at one point she catches a lady trying to use Rit dye in the machine. Ricci goes OFF on the lady and I was imagining the same scenario, but with dirty wool! Ha!)

After we filled the washer and added the soap, we poked at the bags with wooden spoons to help jostle some of the dirt and debris free. We took the bags out, emptied the washer to get rid of the filthy farm water, then refilled with new clean water and did this until the water ran fairly clear. We probably filled the washer 3 or 4 times.

Next we took our clean bags out to the garage to sort out the clean wool. You can see we each have a little funky pile next to us and then a bigger pile of wool that's been picked further of sticks, et cetera.

The next step is carding the wool, getting all the fibers lined up in the same direction, getting the knots out and any final stubborn sticks and leaves. Amy and I do not own carders, but we are looking into buying some, maybe off EBay. Here's what it looks like:

That nice lady from Oaxaca, Mexico is carding wool. The things in her hands are the carders. You can see they look a little like dog brushes. So Amy and I tried, you guessed it-dog brushes! It worked okay, but they were smaller so it would just take longer. You can see the lady has the basket of nasty-ish (but clean) wool and she is making nice fluffy organized wool!

Now by this time my husband was calling, wondering if I was ever coming home, so the photos end here. We plan on making a regular thing of this, so when Amy and I have nice bats of wool roving, I'll post the pictures. Here's a little nugget of cleaned wool, so you can see how far it came from the first picture of the wool straight off the sheep!

So there you have it. Washing Wool, part Un. It was a lot of work, but not too much, especially if you have good company to share the work with. Once we get it all carded, I'll post Washing Wool, part Deux.

Full directions on how to wash fleece are available at Gleason's Fine Woolies. Please consider making them a donation for this service.


Kathleen said...

Hey, is that Yoda the goat?

And I love Amy's "porn star" black bar!

I should show you some of the ornaments I made last year and the year before. They look great on my tree and on my stair railing.

Next time let me know and you can borrow my carders.

Lola said...

Yoda was the white goat, I think? The one who's tail isn't docked? Next time you could come, maybe?! I would love to see your ornaments, and if I know my crafty girl, they will be super cute. I'd say show me Thursday, but they are probably still buried somewhere this time of year.

ali said...

fascinating! and i want the little goat at the end.