Dances with Fleece, or many ways to felt a fleece

After reading a ton of blogs on washing fleece, I first washed it in small batches in the sink. It came out a little felty and not as clean as i'd like. After listening to a podcast of the Harlot, I tried tying the locks together to see what

preserving the lock structure looked like. For me, it was still a little felty and hard to untie those little bundles. I did like her idea of opening up the locks a wee bit and putting them in mesh bags (it took the lovely husband a few trips to the sore to get the right mesh bags, particularly as he had no idea what was supposed to happen with them) and boiling them on the stove.

This method was a bit stinky, but effective. Now, I must say, I really don't mind the smell of boiling sheep fleece, but the rest of the family, while tolerant, is not as emamored of the sheep as I am.

Finally, It dawned on me to try the washer. Into mesh bags, and lots of water and Dawn. Clean fleece! Isn't it yummy? But, beware! Never start spinning while waiting for the washer to fill up, especially if you are impatient and put the bags in before the water is full. Not once, but twice I ende up with fleece that was good for this

but not much else. But look how clean it is. I corresponded some with Amy King,

fiber maven and personal hero that she is, who reminded me that you never know what a washer might do. She's processing Cosmo in the sink. (Isn't he stunning?)

So, the washer with laundry bags. The bags seem to keep the fleece from agitating enough to become felted. And, UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES, put the fllece in the washer until it's filled and turned OFF. That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it.

Now, you may remember, the cotton cards my sweet husband gave me for Christmas. very slow and frustrating. Only now, I'm realizing this is because Romney is not a fine wool and would need WOOL cards to process it appropriately. Enter Gryphon and her drum carder. A month or so ago (I prefer to not to be specific:), it's been too long), I borrowed her drum carder, which has medium teeth. And, between washing the thing more carefully and using the right tool, I have a lovely, snow white roving that's delightful to spin.

as you can see, the princess is dazzled by this stuff, too. The next good thing about the drum carder is it's fascinating to children.

So, I have a part-time assistant. It really helps, too, to have someone turn the crank while you open the locks. I'm still learning how to pull into roving for ease of spinning and a more compact storage. Doesn't just look like luminous clouds?

And it makes a nice, soft, bouncy, fluffy, woolen yarn.

But, oh, look what hapens when you card it a little with a lovely grey brown Romney that someone gives you at Gryphon's spin-in

and spin the two together. Ultra-soft, single-ply goodness. Now, that's a yarn worthy of a sweater!