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How to wash your own fleece

Have you ever wanted to know how to wash your own natural fibre, such as sheep’s wool?

In this video I talk about why I love to wash my own fibre, straight from the farm. In spite of the rather strong ‘sheepy’ smell, I really love the hands-on process of ‘farm-to-art’.

Here are my fleece washing instructions. This method can be used on a variety of natural animal fibres, such as sheep’s wool, llama, Angora mohair, etc.

This process takes under two hours and around 2–3 days to dry. The final drying time will depend a lot on the temperature.

  • Fill bucket or sink with very hot water (around 70˚C).

  • Gently submerge the fibre into the water and let soak for 30 min. Do not agitate the fibre or it will felt.

  • Lift the fibre out of the water and gently squeeze out the excess water.

  • Refill the bucket/sink with hot water and stir in 1/4C of very mild laundry detergent (e.g. laundry detergent designed for washing woollens), then gently submerge the fibre in the water and let soak for another 30 minutes.

  • Repeat 3 and 4.

  • Rinse the fibre in hot water in the same manner you washed the fibre. Several rinses may be necessary. Rinse until the water is clear. Can use progressively cooler water. Can put a small amount of white vinegar or hair conditioner in the final rinse (I use white vinegar to avoid having any fragrance smells).

  • Thoroughly the fibre in a well-ventilated area on racks, towels or screens out of the direct sun or in a warm room. Notes:

  • Do not hang the fibres to dry as the weight of the water can cause the fibres to stretch.

  • Direct sunlight can sometimes overheat the fibres, which can lead to fibre damage. It can also cause uneven drying, which leads to uneven texture or moisture content in the wool.

  • At this point it may look like a tangled mess, but that is normal. Once dry you can pull apart the staples, then card or comb the fleece to prepare it for use.

The step before dyeing

Card or comb the fibre. This helps to align the wool fibres and remove any tangles and creates a more uniform and open structure, making it easier for the dye to penetrate evenly.

Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube: @sarahritchiehq


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