Monday, June 23, 2008

Consistent heat

Over the course of my fiber life I have washed many a fleece. Different breeds and categories, longwools medium wools and fine wools. I always shied away from fine wools because I could never get the grease out. Longwools are easier mediums are not so much but still not impossible.
You see I was using the method that goes like this: hot water soap and sit. So many warnings about felting the fleece and not letting the water cool and the grease re deposit. The washer machine made plenty of hot water and could keep it hot for quite a while. Still I had a bit of trouble with my finer medium wools, I would have to wash them several times, rinse and dry them, only to have to wash them again later on. Worse I sometimes just spun the yarn in the grease.YUCK! I tried using more soap, less wool, less sitting times and hotter water to no avail.
So I tried washing some on the stove, (thank you Stephanie) with a fine wool. It turned out ok. By ok I mean it had as much grease left over after 2 washes as one of the medium wools after 1 wash. Ok, so why did that turn out better than the washer machine? I think it's because of the constant heat.

With constant heat the grease never has a chance to resettle. The water temp never cools down, if anything it will increase a bit over time. There is a chance for it to cool off when you drain it and refill the pot but this can be eliminated by a double pot system. (Two pots of water on the stove, one is washing while the other heats water to the same temp, ready for the next stage. When the second pot is in use, the first pot gets dumped, refilled, and heated.)
Some points to remember are that you still need to use enough soap, you may have to open the lock tips in that first wash while the water is still cool, and you can only do so much wool at a time even in a large stock pot. If you plan on dying the wool this a great method because you can go right from washing/rinsing to dying and only have to dry the wool once!

Just a tip.

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