Monday, September 27, 2010

REVISED Fleece Scouring Method

I had one bag left. With a whole lot more than that, you kind of feel the need to chomp through it, but just one bag? After scouring three big Romney fleeces and two 8-lb. CVM/Corrie Cross fleeces? It's easy to shine it on. But it was becoming an eyesore because I couldn't just stash it somewhere (and forget it for sure), I had to keep it visible so it would keep staring at me. The "one last remnant" is really hard to get motivated about.

It did look like a good bag though, it definitely wasn't dregs. Somewhere around 4-6pounds, but a big bag. I decided to take some liberties with it and switch things up a bit, trying some of the things that had constantly occurred to me, but you know how it is, you read the same conventions everywhere, and you just follow them.

Never again! I'm only sorry that I didn't try this sooner.

No more lingerie bag washing for me. Not after trying it this way.

Fill your container with hottest tap water (I get somewhere around 125-135 degrees, hotter as I go). Put the non-enzyme Dawn dish detergent in it, enough so the water tints blue. Add fleece. But this time, I didn't use lingerie bags. I just plunked a big glob of fleece straight into the water. It floated freely. Lots of dirt, grease, what you'd expect. Except more than before, it seemed.

Scoop fiber out (the trick now is to not get only half, but the whole blob, because you don't want connected fibers pulling apart just over this).

Onto floor of sink, use a wooden cutting board or some other thing to press evenly downward to squeeze out excess soapy, dirty, funky, very hot water. No mushing side to side.

Into equally hot rinse water. Same exit, same pressing.

Into fresh equally hot rinse water. Ditto.

Toss the whole blob, intact, into a bucket and leave it there. Trick here? YOU WANT IT TO COOL ENTIRELY BEFORE HANDLING. (No hot fiber into spin cycle.)

Keep processing batches, keep adding blobs to the bucket to cool. Or take them outside. Just make sure they're cool.

Once cool? THEN pack them into the lingerie bags, and put through the spin cycle.

Doesn't sound very different? Well, it is. Scouring fleece in lingerie bags is just bad. Think of what happens inside the bag at every turn (literally). First, the fiber has nowhere to go, it's contained. So it compacts. Lock upon lock. Next, lifting that bag out of the water. No matter how gentle you are, you still have hot, wet, heavy locks that WILL shift around inside that bag. What's that the recipe for? Felting. Curling. Getting pressed by weight into those curls.

Variation discovered along the way: Line the vessel with tulle so you can lift out the fleece, rather than using a scoop colander.

Variation #2: (I liked this also.) After the fiber is totally (and I mean totally) cooled, do a final rinse, this time in cooler water. A little heat added, but not much. Cool fiber, cool water. Let it float around, and now you can swish it around also.

Cool fiber, safer handling in terms of contributing to the matting (which will happen, not might happen, with any handling you do while it's hot). The goal is the least amount of handling possible WHILE IT'S HOT.

NOW it's great to put it in lingerie bags. And into washer's spin cycle. Then lay it out to dry, as normal.

The final product doing it this way was
1. Lock structure preserved SO much better. Beyond just noticeably so.
2. Way whiter, cleaner (did I say waaaaay cleaner?) fleece.
3. Softer. No soap residue.
4. Tangle free, and I mean to the nth degree that wetted loose locks can be. Pretty much tangle free. I barely had to flick it prior to carding.

One thing I do know regarding human hair. When you wash it, in hot water, you are opening up the cuticle (scales). If you do a final rinse in cooler water, you close the cuticle. For one thing, you will damage your hair less, just in combing it, if the cuticles are closed (scales are snuggled down tight against the strand).

Same with fleece.

I've never seen a more gorgeous, clean, soft, shiny, tangle-free result from scouring fleece as I did with that last bag. I sure wish I'd departed from the "conventional wisdom" on fleece scouring a whole lot earlier, because this fleece is a joy to card. The other (all 5 fleeces) from doing it the conventional way, just doesn't hold a candle.


Julie the LakeHouse Lady said...

This looks GREAT! I am trying it right now, as I write. How long did you leave the fleece in the very first soak? And I'm assuming you didn't move it much at ALL. I don't have a piece of netting right now, so I'm going to have to use a colander to get it out.

I'll be blogging about my adventures with this fleece. It is the most gorgeous fleece I've had so far. I want to treat it right...thanks for this! I'll post pics on my blog of how it turns out!

許瑋菁 said...

IS VERY GOOD..............................

Carol said...

I only leave a fleece in the hot wash water 10 minutes. My own goal at that point is loosening and breaking down dirt, but mostly melting the lanolin, so I figure too long in the wash water could let the water cool down, risking the redepositing of lanolin back onto the fiber. I don't know at what temp that would start to happen, but it sounds like you had happy results, so if it doesn't feel sticky at all, I wouldn't worry about it. I did have one bag that, after some months, felt sticky so either I didn't leave it in long enough or too long. The rest of it I've always only left it in 10 minutes, and haven't felt any stickiness. ;-)