Today I will share where I get my fleeces and how to clean and dyed it.  I like to get my fleece at the fiber festivals in the Fall.  Because I like to check out (touch and handle) the many types of fleeces for sale. I look at every type and select mainly based on how clean the fleece is. I had many years to learn that it is not that easy to clean the vegetable matter out of a fleece at home.

So now I look for the cleanest fleece and there are a few out there, with the longest staple length and the best lock structure and health. I test the wool fiber to see how easy it breaks in half, if too easy then the fleece comes from a ill or unhealthy sheep and the yarn will not be good. This test is important, specially for a finer fleece like merino.  Next I choose the color of the fleece if available. I like the colored fleece, brown, black or variegated.  I wash the fleece depending on the how much lanolin it has in it. If it has a lot of lanolin I will place 8 Oz. of wool in a large pot of very hot water with a few tbsp. of Dawn soap and 2 tbsp. of Borax. Let it sit on the stove on a low simmer for 30 min. then remove to a colander and press the water out then place in another pot of clean same temperature water for 5 min., then drain into a colander press the water out and put the wool into a dye bath. It is best to do this outside and drain the water out to the ground so your house pipes won’t get clog.

I use Jacquard dyes because they work well with Angora, which is the fiber I work with the most.  I place the hot wool into a post of water with the what ever color dye I like and add 1/2 cup of vinegar the pot.  Then wait about 20 min. then drain into a colander let cool and squeeze the water out. Then I place the wool on a screen on a drying rack. What is your favorite type of wool? take the poll at the bottom of this post and let me know.

What is your favorite type of wool? take the poll at the bottom of this post and let me know.

Electric drum carder
Newly carded merino wool.
Newly carded merino wool.
Handdyed merino fleece
Handdyed merino fleece

 

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA
Hand dyed blue un-carded merino wool.
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