Thursday, February 10, 2011

The last of the Nasty Romney... hooray!

Well, here it is, the last color and the last of that nasty fleece... saved the best for last too - purple!  #421 Plum Dandy to be specific. 
Lots of experiments went into this batch.  Did the overstuffed dye pot - see that pale bit in the middle?  Also tried re-using the hot dye bath rather than starting fresh each time (there are three batches shown here) I just added more dye and vinegar, stirred well and plopped in another batch of Nasty Romney and off I went.  Worked out well too, I think.  The dye exhausted each time (finally!) and I was left with clear vinegar water, or at least as close to clear as the nastiness of the fleece allowed.

In case anyone is wondering, this pile of wool is still damp.  I dry it on window screens over my bathtub.  Maybe this is a good time to tell you how I wash my wool.

I use 5 gallon buckets in my bathtub.  Fill the bucket about 3/4 full with the hottest water the tap will provide and put in a strong squeeze of Dawn dish detergent.  I use the blue stuff, and squeeze in enough to tint the water blue.  Then I pull off handfuls of dirty fleece and push it down into the hot water until there is only a little swishing room in the bucket.  Then I put the lid on the bucket and walk away for a half hour.  Don't fiddle with the wool too much - don't want it to felt!

After half an hour lift out the wool and plop it on the uphill side of the tub and empty the filthy (and I DO mean filthy!) water out of the bucket.  If it is warm outside, I use it to water my plants outside.  The soap is good for bug repellent and the "sheepiness" is good fertilizer for them.  Otherwise, it goes down the drain.  Then I repeat this process until the wool still carries some foam from the soap, usually it takes two or three times with detergent.  Then I rinse the wool until the water is pretty clear.  I don't go for perfectly clear because that could take days!

Since wool has to be fully wetted to take up the dye, I think the best time to do the dye is right after the last rinse.  After all, it is already wet and warm, so I fire up the dye pot and lift out a quantity of wool that will fit in my dye pot (just under 5 quarts, I use a small ice cream bucket for this) and leave the rest of the big bucket of wool soaking in case I need a clean up batch of wool.

Then I put the wool in the washing machine and spin out the majority of the water - just spin - no water spraying on the wool!

After that, I spread it out on screens and let it dry.  About once a day I put my fingers in the wool to check on it and pull open any wet/damp bits and turn the whole shebang over so it all gets dry.  Usually takes a couple days and then it is ready to pick.

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