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Washing Fleece in the Washing Machine

You know what’s really hard? Getting a good photo of raw fleece. Even in a room with good light, it’s just difficult to get take a detailed photograph of bits of fluff.

Tunis Fleece
I give you a Tunis fleece I received as a wedding gift last year. (Yup,pretty much the best wedding gift ever.) This is Tunis from the same farm as the roving I have for sale in my shop. It’s been living in a box since then, first waiting for me to have a place to wash it, and then after we moved in to our new house, waiting for us to get a washing machine. After we got a washing machine, I was too busy preparing for baby to think about washing fleeces. Well, that’s not completely true. I thought about it plenty, I was just slightly afraid to do it for fear of felting, and I always so freaking tired, I didn’t bother to figure out where my fleeces were stored when we moved. (Turns out they were in plastic bags, inside a suitcase, in the basement. I think it was originally to protect them from moths, but it was a really good hiding place from myself.)

I love this wool. It’s a solid medium wool, with a little peachy color to it. I think it spins up lovely and sproingy. Because this was a gift, and the box it came in was unmarked, I don’t really know how much it is, but I do know it’s from the 2013 clip. I’m guessing 3 or 4 pounds before washing. Yes, I could have weighed it, but I’m saving that for after it’s clean and dry. What’s good about this fleeces is that it came very well skirted. I didn’t have to pull out any tags or discard any of the locks for being felted or poopy. It is dirty, and there is plenty of VM in it, but it came from a sheep, what do you expect?

Tunis Lock
What a pretty lock.

I would take a good look at you fleece before you toss it in the wash, and get rid of the parts that aren’t going to be good for spinning. No use washing them when you can toss them straight into the compost. After that, getting the fleece clean is pretty simple.

washing the tunis

Supplies needed:
1. Fleece
2. Dawn Original Formula (theoretically, any dish soap should work, but I stick with the one that really strips out the grease.)
3. Washing Machine

Washing the fleece
-Fill washing machine with hot water and about 1-2 cups of dish soap (Use more soap for heavier lanolin.)
-While machine is filling, loosely pick locks apart. No need to get super thorough, you just want to open them up enough to let the water and soap in.
-Add wool to water, gently pushing beneath the surface. Do not mix it around. Also, be sure to turn off your machine before it starts to agitate. Some machines only do this if you close the lid. If you’re lucky like me, your machine goes straight from filling to agitating with no pause in between, so I have been waiting until the machine is filled before adding any fleece, just in case.
-Let sit 15 minutes
-Turn to spin and allow the washer to spin all the water out.

(Repeat if you have a particularly dirty fleece.)

-Rinse the soap out by filling machine again and soaking for another 15 minutes, followed by another spin cycle.

Washed Tunis

What’s really cool about this method, is spinning all the water out in the washing machine really cuts down on dry time. When I was washing fleece by hand and drying it on a rack in a southern window, it would sometimes take days for wool to dry. This wool should be dry later today. (The only downside I can see is if you are a person who really likes to spin from perfect locks, this isn’t going to get you there.)

Obviously, it’s going to need a little bit more picking to get all the vm out, but that’s so much easier to do when it’s not getting caught up on lanolin.

Today I cleaned Tunis and Rambouillet. I’ve never worked with Rambouillet before, so I am excited to get my hands on it once it’s dry. Do you have any favorite breeds?