Anyone who has taken my Fleece to Yarn class will no doubt remember that of all the processes involved in turning fleece to yarn, washing raw fleece is my absolute least favourite. However, last week whilst in Cornwall I was presented with an opportunity too good to miss.
Shearing was a-happening just a few miles away from our caravan, and due to appalling market conditions for the wool business in the UK at the moment, the fleeces were available for a mere £2 each. I was happy to pay for the fleeces (and would have paid more). My contribution to the farmer’s income may have been small but I did need some more fibre for teaching workshops and my thoughts were that if I can do any more to share the skills and keep the hand-spinning craft going then that would probably be a more valuable contribution toward sheep farming and the wool trade as my piddly financial input could ever be.
Freshly sheared, cross-bred Texel / Suffolk ewes
So I went along (truth is, my navigation skills are DIRE and so I “encouraged” my daughter to drive me to the farm) where we met the lovely ewes and bought a couple of fleeces, literally straight off the sheep and still warm.
Having brought them home, I had to face the washing. As I’ve said, I don’t enjoy washing raw fleece. Yes I enjoy the end result but… well ….. you know …… Sheep Sh*t………
So, I decided to try a different (for me) approach. Several of my friend have tried the SUINTING method of cleaning fleece and with multiple reports of sweet-smelling (yes really) success, I thought I would give it a go. Off to B&M Bargains for a watertight, lidded barrel I went, intending to put a whole fleece in there, and if it worked to my satisfaction, repeating the exercise with the second fleece. However, I decided that stuffing a whole fleece into the barrel I had bought would not leave enough room for enough water to thoroughly do its thing so I tore the first one in half and added the water.
Just have to wait at least 6 weeks now to see if the method is as good as promised. Come back soon to see my results!