I am crazy for wool. Love it to death. I have been known to nearly bury my face in raw fleece because the smell of fresh lanolin is total heaven! I don’t actually bury my face — there’s a lot of stuff in fleece which I’d rather not get that close to. But the smell of fresh, greasy fleece — ahhhhhhhh. You can’t get all that joy by getting prepped fiber.
I buy it raw, wash it, keep what I want/need (How much does one truly need? That’s a question for the ages). AND then put the balance in my SHOP — all clean and sparkly for spinners to buy and spin.
My first experience with washing fleece was a total disaster. It was free, unskirted (yep there were actually dingle-berries hanging off of it) and really, really, really greasy. Not a good choice for a beginner — I didn’t even have the sense to skirt it before trying to wash it. Long story short, it made great fertilizer tea.
Over the years, I have tried various methods to wash raw fleece, and even gave up for a while. Then I watch Judith Mckenzie’s Three Bags Full — I liked her method and made a few changes to suit my needs. The key?
Wash in small batches — even if you have 9 pounds of it to do! I also employ a sort of conveyer line of pots for tricky, sticky, “oh my gosh there is a lot of grease” fleece. This might consist of as many as 3 successive wash pots and 3 successive rinse pots (that’s my secret to washing Merino and Cormo)
I use a timer and don’t let the fleece go long — because the water will cool too much and I won’t get to do a second set of bags. The last thing you want to have happen is for the lanolin to re-deposit back onto the fiber. I have had that happen — then I have to start all over! Bummermissimo. I will sometimes “refresh” the pot with fresh hot water.
I do a successive sequence for really greasy fleece.
Many know me as Dakota Skipper -- that's my Cowboy alias. I LIKE to write and I like to share. Please enjoy reading about my frolicking fiber adventures!