Handspinning: Fleece washing day

Monday was part 1 of fleece washing day!

That  Swaledale fleece that my Mum and Dad got on their recent trip to North Yorkshire England turned out to be quite good. For two people that have little knowledge of fleece purchasing, they did really well. Little dirtier than would have gone for, but no chafe. 

I suspect this sheep was raised outdoors as there is almost no matting over the hind quarters, and has some  weathered tips along the mid-line.

Whoever skirted it did a great job. There are some second cuts down the sides, but not unreasonable amount.

Swaledale fleece hand delivered from North Yorkshire. Now for washing and Spinning!

Swaledale fleece hand delivered from North Yorkshire. Now for washing and Spinning!

I estimate that my fleece is 10 to 15 Ibs unwashed. Think I may loose 10%, still lots left. Opening windows, basement smells petite barnyard. 

How I wash fleece, I have done this for years. 

Top loading Washing Machine


The spin cycle quite literally sucks out most of the dirt and water out of the fleece leaving it only damp. Did you know that the spin cycle on a washing machine is about 200 G’s, that’s more than shooting a rocket into space!  I used to hand wash in a trug, wet fleece + water weighs a ton, and drip drying takes forever. Someone suggested this method and I have never looked back. And the largest water containing tub in your house? No brainer. I do wipe out and rinse my machine with Javex afterward however. My repair guy, (which I have only seen once with an old machine) told me that the lanolin is good for the pump.


1st Quarter fleece: Started with the Hind quarters, This section over the haunches is yielding staple lenghts 8 to 10″ great for woolcoming. and worsted spinning. 

I use Ivory Dawn Dish soap, (the blue one). Use a non hand softener dish soap to clean and scour. The Ph can be corrected with 1/4 cup of vinegar in the rinse water. 

Important: Fleece needs to swim in the water, so do only 2 or 3 Ibs at a time or it will not be able to let go of the dirt.


*Soaking in the hottest water that your top loading washing machine will produce. Fill tank, turn off machine, squirt some Blue Ivory dawn (difficult to find these days) add fleece and soak for 20 to 30 mins. Spin out dirty water (make sure that the machine doesn’t add any water into the tub at this point), once spun out gently lift fleece out of tank,* repeat then rinse fleece without soap. 

I use an old screen door.

I use an old screen door.

Lay out in thin layer to dry on a screen. Will feel dry long before it is dry. Leave for at least 24hrs flipping once.

Important note! 

Hot to hotter water only, and do not agitate!

Hot to cold = felt,

Soap+hot water+agitation= felt

Put it into soak, put your hands in your pockets, DO NOT POKE!

My fleece took 2 soaks one rinse. 

I figure I have 4 more loads to do. 

As far as knitting this week, I finished 3 Piles of Smiles Cowls

Will be available in Willows Pocket my etsy shop in November.

Will be available in Willows Pocket my etsy shop in November.

4 great colours!

3 colours, I am knitting a Hot pink one too.

3 colours, I am knitting a Hot pink one too.

And an Infinity of stash Cowl for the Church Bazaar next Saturday

Totally Austentatious my new literary blog is now open too!

All in all a very busy week :0)

WIP List = 9

  1. Quicksilver Lace Shrug started Sept 5/14
  2. My Favourite Top-Down Clog Socks 
  3. Left over Cowl started feb 23/14
  4. Cabled Hood with Pockets Started Sept 27/13
  5. Sea of Dreams Blanket 85% done started Mar 9/13
  6. Isla lace Pillowcase edge  60% done started June 18/13
  7. Rose Harbour Shawl 85% done started Jun 28/13
  8. My Fair Cardi Started Apr 8/14
  9. Simplicity Lace Scarf  

FO’s 2014 = 37 + 3 = 40

WIPS 2014 = 9

 Stash Used 2014 = 65 + 3 = 68

Ravellenic 2014 FO’s =  8

Yds of Handspun 2014 = 313 yds

Sewing FO’s 2014 = 

Books 2014 = 27 + 2 = 29

Thanks again, cya next week :0)

I’m off to visit Tami’sthen on to my blogwalk

come join me in the blogpond :0

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. shoelaceswitcher
    Oct 29, 2014 @ 16:46:07

    It’s always helpful to hear how others wash their fleece!


  2. Tonya
    Oct 29, 2014 @ 20:55:43

    very interesting.


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