Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Captain Resourceful and the Dirt Demolishers

Okay guys. It only took me about two hours to thoroughly scour the first fleece (Monette's) courtesy of Schoonover Farms, from a Craigslist ad. Here is a before picture.

And here are the after shots. Damn, that's some CLEAN fiber!

It is no longer brown, but a gorgeous silvery gray color. Let me first say that the scouring method used for this first fleece was:

1)Hot water from the tap into the tub, about halfway full. Add Palmolive (green apple scent, just to be cute) until the water turns a shade of green. Swish water around so the dish soap is evenly distributed. Put on rubber gloves (mine happen to be hot pink....don't ask) and lay the fleece on top of the water. Gently smoosh down the fleece until completely submerged. Hang around for 20 minutes. Push the fleece to the back of the tub, and unplug the drain. As the water drained, I squeezed out more water, as gently as possible to avoid felting. Then I gathered up the fleece and tossed it into a dish tub I had from dyeing.

2) Repeat the bath 2 more times. Seriously, until the water is less like mud and more like water (fleeces are dirty, what can I say?)

3) Refill tub with hot tap water (mine was most likely 120 degrees. My barista hands tell me so...) minus the soap. Add the fleece back in. Press under. Let sit for 15 minutes, then gather the fleece and drain the water.

4) In the last rinse bath, I added some Soak to the mix, just to condition the fleece and make it smell like flowers (what? It was Flora scent!)

5) The fleece was then removed from the water after about 15 minutes, and then place on a big bath towel. I then stomped on the towel, just like I do with knitwear. Then I laid out a clean dry towel onto my drying rack, and put up the sweater catch on the other side, and spread the fleece out evenly to dry.

Okay, so what happened? It started to torrentially RAIN! *grrr* Which means the fleece is still not dry, despite being in my 75+ degree apartment for 24 hours. Well, it's at least drying...

Fast forward to today. I had a moment of inspiration while trolling Ravelry looking for fiber prep solutions. Keeping in mind that this is a Shetland fleece, and I am nowhere near deciding what I want the finished product to be, I decided it would be best for me to get both wool combs and wool cards. The issue? Wool combs can run you upwards of $40. Wool combs? Closer to $70 if you're lucky. What did I do? Went to the pet store.

$15.03 later, and one trip to PetSmart, and I have two sets of soft dog slicker brushes (which look strikingly similar to wool carders...) and two sets of dog combs, one which has tines of two heights, and the other with a single row all the same height.

Yes, that brand does say Bargain Hound. What can I say....at 97 cents per comb, I couldn't resist (clearance is a good thing) and the orange carders were $2.99 a pop. Not bad, huh?

For those of you with champagne tastes, I did find a tutorial for making wool combs by hand on the cheap. Go here. Wool Cards on the other hand require carding cloth, which is sold by the inch and is special order. As soon as I figure out how to make it by hand, rest assured I will share the secret. But until then, hit your pet store for some cheaper alternatives for fiber prep. I do warn you. Real wool combs and carders are bigger and are meant to handle larger capacities of fiber at one go, but I am still happy to trade a few minutes of time in exchange for keeping more of my money for actual fiber. :D

I can't wait til that fleece is done so I can test the fiber prep angle and decide which way I would like to process the fleeces. Oh that, and so I can wash the other fleece (which is currently sitting in a plastic bag in the box it was mailed to me in.) I need another drying rack.

In other news, I went to the Container Store and got some more underbed totes to put the rest of the newly acquired yarn into. And also, some lavender scented cedar balls. All of it was on sale for the Spring Sale. I spent $30. Including tax. How cool is that? I will, of course, need to go back to get a few more totes for storing the fleeces. Preferably before the sale ends on Sunday.

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