How To Wash Raw Wool
I have been spinning my own yarn for several years now, and want to eventually begin actually making some articles of our clothing.
So far I have mastered the spinning part, but am still pretty lame at actually creating something to wear with the yarn!
My plan is to improve my crochet and knitting skills over this winter, but first I will be spinning lots of yarn to work with.
Once you obtain a fleece of raw wool, the first thing you will need to do with it is wash it to remove the greasy lanolin.
There are many different opinions and theories about how you can or can’t wash raw wool.
I am simply going to share with you the way I wash raw wool, that gets it sparkly clean and avoids felting. (Can wool even be referred to as sparkly?)
It’s easy, uncomplicated, and doesn’t require a lot of hands on time.
Lay your wool out on a flat surface and remove any clumps of dried poo, hay, or burrs from the wool. This is called skirting. If you have acquired your wool from a high quality vendor/farm there should be very little skirting needed.
Here, I have a small amount of raw wool that I got at a festival a few weeks ago. It’s about 1.5 pounds, and required no skirting to be done. I am totally in love with all the color variations! (It’s from a Gotland/Shetland cross sheep)
A little flock of sheep is definitely on the livestock wishlist for our homestead- hopefully as soon as we get some land cleared! Until then, I just buy from local shepherds.
Measure out twice as much laundry detergent as you would normally use into the bottom of your washing machine. Here is my recipe for Homemade Laundry Detergent that I use. Fill the washing machine with HOT water, then turn the washer off.
Place your wool in the washer, and use a broom handle to gently poke the wool down under the water. Generally most washers can hold up to 1 entire fleece. Let the wool sit in the hot water until the temperature cools to lukewarm. Usually 1-2 hours.
Set the washing machine to the “drain and spin” setting, and turn on.
Fill the washer with WARM water, and turn it off before it begins to agitate! Let sit for about 5 minutes, then set to the “drain and spin” setting one more time.
Here is my wool after step 5.
Carefully lift the wool out of the washer, and lay it on an old towel. Drape the towel and wool over a drying rack in a nice sunny area outside. I turn my drying rack sideways so there is a larger surface for the wool to rest on, but you can use a porch railing, clothesline, or any other hard surface to dry the wool on. Outside is best, but in the dead of winter, I use my bathtub to set the drying rack in.
The key throughout the washing process is to not disturb the wool very much. So, no agitating of the washer, or messing with it with your hands, or you can end causing parts of the wool to felt. Felted wool is not cool if you are preparing it for spinning!
Once your wool has dried, it is ready to be carded. If you aren’t ready to card it yet, you can store it in a plastic or cloth bag until you are ready to use it.
Is using wool straight from a sheep intimidating to you? If so, I hope this series on using raw wool will help you get started!
This post has been shared at The Homestead Barn Hop, Natural Living Monday, Tuesdays With a Twist, The Backyard Farming Connection, The Homestead Blog Hop, Down Home Blog Hop, The Home Acre Hop, Simple Lives, Link and Mingle, The Pin Junkie, Freedom Fridays, From the Farm Hop, Old Fashioned Fridays, Simple Saturdays, Simply Natural Saturdays, Clever Chicks, Mommy Monday, and The Art of Homemaking.