Sunday, April 5, 2009


I wash the way I learned from K.P., the GaelicWench. Turn off the cold feed to your washing machine (must be a top-loader). Fill it with the hottest water you have and a little soap. I use Orvus horse shampoo, which is well known as a good shampoo for fine fibers; you can buy little, expensive containers in some fine yarn shops, or big, cheap containers at the feed store.

Once the wash tub is full, turn off the washer and add the fleece; somewhere between a quarter and a half of a whole fleece depending on size. Gently push the fleece under, turn off the washer again just in case, and leave it to soak for an hour. I put a couple of sheeps' hides over the washer to keep the heat in and the family out.

After the soak, spin out the contents, take the fleece out and wrap it up to keep it warm. You are trying to avoid temperature changes. That is also why you have turned off the cold water; the washer would otherwise spray the spin cycle, and the pounding and temperature might felt the wool. Refill the washtub again with hottest water; add soap if you think you need another go-round. When the washtub is full, turn the washer off, put the wool back in, turn the washer off again,soak, spin-dry...rinsing is just the same without the soap. I wash twice and rinse twice, and the second time with a good shot of vinegar to counteract the soap and smooth the fibers.

After the last spin, scoop the fiber out for the last time and air-dry on screens, sweater-dryer, etc. Remember to turn the cold water back on.

I go through a lot of Orvus and vinegar this time of year...

Today's photo is a lock of Carly's wool; a beautiful light gray. It's coming out so lovely I hardly think I'd need to do anything to it before I spun it...


  1. This is beautiful, Mia. I can feel your excitement in all of your posts. Congrats on being in the Fiber Arts Fair! Would you recommend the Orvus for washing hand-knit woolens? It's time to gather up all the hats and mitts and wash. I am going to do this by hand, so I also thought of using shampoo. I don't want any more disasters in the washer!

  2. Yes, Orvus is great for all fine fibers. Happy Spring!