The new Spin-off magazine (Fall 2008) came to my mailbox today. What a great issue! Judith MacKenzie McCuin's article On Washing Fleece had some new information for me. Something you may have not known about me: my favorite part of spinning is the prep work. I love picking, washing, and carding the fleece. When you think about it, the education material about washing wool is weak. It's not like spinners get classes about washing wool when they attend conferences or workshops. And you don't see too many articles about this topic. I've just pieced together my knowledge about washing fiber, as most spinner's do, and I'm sure there's better ways of doing things than how I do them.
The article gave me a much better understanding of SUINT. This is the water soluble detergent- like substance that comes from something like a sweat gland. I have to say I stopped taking the step to remove the suint before I scourer the fleece. Now that Ms. MacKenzie McCuin spelled it out--how and why--I will go back to doing a cold soak before the hot washing process.
Motivated to try out a long cold soak again, I went to my "unwashed fiber" stash. I found some Cotswold that I got almost 2 years ago when I lived in Seattle. The Cotswold came from Our Lady of the Rock Monastery on Shaw Island in the San Juan's. The Nuns that live there are mostly self-sufficient and have a variety of fiber producing animals. Mother Hildegard George left her calling card in the bag of fleece so I assume she was the one that sheared it. From the reciept in the bag it looks like I paid $45.00 for 8 1/2 lbs of fiber. I used most of it when I first got it. I didn't like carding it very much so maybe I'll try a new way this time.
I put a few big hand fulls into the sink tonight...