Sunday, July 22, 2007

Coming Up For Air...

My world has become very, very small these days. I wash fleece, I sleep. If I remember, then I eat something. Otherwise, it's all washing and sleeping. The whole cycle is occasionally broken up by a rousing round of Keep The Smaller, Less Fluffy Kitty Out Of The Drying Wool. That is something of a treat, really. Shakes things up a bit...

By necessity brought on by lack of space, I tend to wash fleeces in small lots. To get it done quickly and reduce the amount of Eau de Barn in the condo, I do this pretty much continuously until the job is done. And, as I have something of an uneasy relationship with lanolin, I generally don't do much sorting before washing. I get as much of the grease out as possible, then deal with the stuff that doesn't belong there.

But, after the first batch came out of the rinse water and was resting in the windows to dry, it became clear to me that I would need to change things up a bit. This wool did not come from a spinner's flock. It is mere happenstance that allowed so many of us to get our greedy little hands on this lovely stuff. As I looked at the washed wool, I thought to myself:

You know...this sheep didn't have a Mommy Sheep like I did. There was no one to tell her to wear her coat or stay out of the mud puddles. She roamed about essentially unsupervised and doing pretty much as she pleased. A simple bath is not going to do the trick here...

So, I broke out the flick carder. I rarely use this tool because I tend to get a little overenthusiastic and hurt my thumb. But, this really seemed to be the weapon of choice for this battle. And the difference was clear when the second round of fiber was spread out to dry. My path was set. Flick, sort, wash, dry. That was the determined sequence.

It'll save me a lot of work later. But has added hours to the washing time. I lasted until 1:00 this morning before fatigue brought everything to a crashing halt. It's been a while since I've had a whole fleece with which to play. I'd forgotten the amount of work that goes into the process. But, it gives the term, "labor of love" new meaning. It is worth every sore muscle or accidentally flicked finger.

And it puts other time-stealers into perspective, that's for sure.




The endless plying and detangling with the misbehaving skeins of the lamb/silk blend? Child's play!!!
I am nearing the end of the merino fleece. In fact, it is my sworn mission to wash the last lock before I rest my weary head on the pillow for the night. That will leave the Shetland lamb, which has been patiently waiting its turn and which, I suspect, will be an easier wash-up.
Good thing. Tomorrow night will be another night of the socialization training for The Sheep. I will wash the last remaining scent of the barn from my person and head over to the CamMad household for a fun-filled evening of dining and kid-wrangling. My cute little Nieces By Proxy will provide the entertainment and the Mom of the household will serve up the meal. Normally this is the Dad's duty at the CamMad house...but there was an "incident" of sorts which has left him couch-bound for a while. More on that later...it's a good story. Every mother who has ever told her children, "don't come running to me if you cut off your toes with the lawn mower" will feel highly vindicated.
Wear your coat...stay out of the mud puddles...don't play with the lawn mower...listening to Mom can really save a lot of time and trouble in the long run.
Back to washing the Motherless Merino.
SA

14 comments:

Mouse said...

That sounds like a terrible insult "Son of A Motherless Merino!!" hee hee hee.

trek said...

Eau de Barn, eh?

I am gagging here...

Diana said...

How can one forget to eat?

Jeanne said...

The cats must be in heaven with the heady scent of Eau de Barn wafting through the place. ;-) Is your Dad all right? Intact?

Anonymous said...

You forget to eat??? Doesn't the frozen pizza call to you?
Karen
http://nothingbutknit.blog-city.com/

Lorraine said...

Obsession has a new definition!

Happy to be back. Three days worth of Sheepie posts. What a treat.

Glad to hear Mommy Sheep is finishing her first quilt. Will you post a "I'm bragging about my mother" picture?

catsmum said...

I got more than enough eau de barn at the Wool and Sheep Show on Friday!

Susie said...

I'm heading off on Saturday to a somewhat la-de-dah fiber event in Charlevoix (just saying the name costs money, I fear.) I don't know if they'll have anyting so unsightly as fleeces (this "is* a ritzy place, y'know) but I'm looking. I want a well-kept Targhee fleece.

I should be so lucky.

Your lamb-silk is gorgeous and well worth time spent twice...

Julie said...

Sounds like a LOT of work to me; I'm not sure I could handle it.

I have to ask the question others have already asked; How do you forget to eat???? No really, tell me; I could stand to forget a few meals here and there :)

Cathy said...

Yeppers, we have working sheep fleeces. Sheep who roll up their um, sleeves and teach collies how to do the job they were bred to do. I am rather fascinated about the whole working sheep concept as opposed to the spinner's flock ideal. These sheep changed my perception of the division of sheep labor. One is for meat and their fleeces go hang. And the other is fleece only. Now we have working sheep. Tho I know there are many who butcher their lambs etc. Oh heck, sheep work more roles then I took time to consider.

nancy said...

Wonderful fleeces!!! It's well worth the time and diligence you put in for washing them. What's your washing method? In my last house I had a large laundry tub/sink that I could get about 1/4 of a decent sized fleece into and get it clean. My current house has the kitchen sink or a bathtub - and we're on a septic system .

Beth said...

In your spare time :), you should write a tuturial (with pictures) on the whole process. Maybe you could start with opening the box and end with a skein of yarn. You have time for that, right? :)

Leigh said...

I'm impressed! You've got it all washed! (Or will have by the time I get caught up on my blog reading.) All I've done has been to shake mine out in hopes of getting rid of some of the hay, grass, and short bits. I think your idea of flick carding before washing is excellent. I may need to give this a try too.

Lazuli said...

Wow, that sure does sound like a labor of love! Enjoy!