Monday, June 10, 2013

Washing wool

My plan was to wash the fleeces from my eight white crossbred ewes beginning early Sunday morning, well I didn't get started until afternoon so I didn't get all of the wool washed but I finally have gotten started.
I will give a quick walk through how I now wash wool, thanks to Dave L. for showing me an easier way. previous method was one five gallon bucket at a time, that is ok if all you want wash is a small batch. 
Begin by starting a small fire outside, campfire style.....I didn't think to take a pic. of my fire at the time.
I have purchased 6 stock pots from Marc's (local store), cheap.
Fill the stock pots with water and bring them to almost a boil (very hot).  Remove them from the heat and squirt your dish soap into each pot, until the water is slippery when you quickly touch the water with your fingers. 

Add wool.
Stuff wool into the pots till full, this is something that you just have to get a feel for.  With a Shetland fleece I would wash one fleece divided among three pots.
This is what I am washing white wool from uncoated sheep......I have HOURS in tipping these fleeces.  I am having socks made with this wool and where I am sending it their machines can only take a staple length of 4 1/2" length, this wool is just a little longer, so I've tipped ALL of it that I am sending.  I've held the britch out.  I'm hoping for at least ten to twelve pounds of washed wool.
It doesn't take but maybe 15 minutes soaking in hot water before you can pull it out.  I use a cheap kitchen spatula and I have a wonderful metal slotted spoon with fingers to grab the wool and pull it out.
(plastic spoons bend too much).
Lay the hot wool out onto a platform such as I use, a metal cattle panel covered with chicken wire or the plastic mesh, laying on top of cardboard tables......or whatever works.  You just want a place you can lay the wool out to cool to air temperature.
 Once the wool has cooled work with smaller batches, put some wool in a 5 gallon bucket.  Now you can use your garden hose and spray the wool with cold water and rinse it.  It usually takes 4-5 rinses to get the soap and silt out and it doesn't take a lot of water each time, just enough to cover most of the batch you are working with, I use a strainer to set the wool in as I pull it out of the bucket, squeeze out the water and repeat.  After I am satisfied with the rinsing, I like to stuff the wool in nylon bags and put them in my washing machine and spin out the excess water, this just helps to get the wool drying faster.
 Although, because I started later in the day than I like to I ran out of good drying weather so I had to move indoors and have the wool drying in my garage on my skirting tables with a fan blowing on it.

The most I have washed in one day by myself is 10 fleeces and that is enough for me, it keeps you hopping.


  1. What a great way to do this. Maybe Brenda and I will use this method when we wash our fleece we bought at wooster. :)

  2. Hi Ali,
    Yes, this is a time saving way to get it done.