Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Washing Fleece

It is hard to imagine, but even though I've been raising llamas and using their fiber for almost 15 years, I rarely wash their fiber myself!  I've always been scared of felting it, and I usually have a mill process it into roving, so I just let them wash the fiber as well.

Well, I finally took the plunge!  I had some odds and ends fiber lying around that needed washing (raw mohair, "washed" dirty wool locks), plus several baby llama fleeces that I purchased from a friend, so I decided to start washing it myself.

**This method is for alpaca/llama fiber, not for greasy wool!**

I used 5-gallon buckets (from Lowes) to wash and rinse the fiber.  To wash I filled the bucket with hot water and added some Dawn dish soap, and then added the fiber.  I stirred it around, agitating it as little as possible, and then let it sit for 20-30 minutes.  If the water looked really dirty I would fill a second bucket the same way and transferred the fiber to it for another wash.  If the water wasn't too dirty I filled the second bucket with hot water but NO soap, and transferred the fiber to rinse it.  For the llama fleeces, I did 2 washes and 2 rinses.  

Once the fiber was clean I set it outside on my skirting frame (chicken wire stretched over a wood frame) to dry.  It actually took about 3 days to dry, as I had to move it to the barn the second day due to rain!

I'm getting ready to lockspin one of the baby llama fleeces...can't wait to see how it turns out!

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