Don't even get me started on depression. I've been AWOL from this blog for a while. Anyway, I'm still here, and I'm still crafting! I've been up to a lot, but one of the biggest things has been fiber prep of my fleece! So I wrote up a bit of a step by step for how I'm cleaning it - I'm doing all of this more-or-less every day since the beginning of the month!
I've learned a bit that makes this go better since I started.
When I first bought the fleece, a friend and I broke it in to clumps of from 3.5 - 6 ounces. This is a fairly typical clump:
Pre-wash: I stick my clump of fiber in a colander and rinse it. It's amazing how much dirt this removes, the water runs brown for the first 30 seconds or so. (note that there is no agitation involved in any step of this or in rinsing, just running water right through)
Soak: I soak the fiber in tap water for around 24 hours.
Clean: I drain the water, rinse the fiber in the colander again to get the dirty water out of it. I refill the pot with hot water, eyeball between a quarter and a third of a cup of plain dish soap (I've been using Green Way Eco-Friendly unscented dish soap). I let it soak while it's heating up to temperature (which takes about 15 minutes) and then for a further 30 minutes, and then let it cool a little in the pot. I use a candy thermometer to keep an eye on the temperature.
Rinse: I rinse it again to get the soap out.
Dry: I use a towel to squeeze out the excess water, and then put it on a cookie cooling rack to dry. It takes around 24 hours to dry completely, sometimes longer.
Weight: I now weigh it again to see how much I've lost.
Comb: I comb all the fiber. I line up all the locks in my hand before putting them on the comb, and I've been doing smaller clumps since I've discovered it goes a lot better. When I'm done, I end up with two piles of fiber. One is all set and ready to spin, though I haven't quite figured out how to not have any little clumps/knots of fiber in there:
And the other is the left overs and more or less useless (though I gather it can be used as doll stuffing, and I bet if I dyed it I could use it to make some fun effects in an art yarn):
So far, counting the fiber I pulled out for the top pic, which I'll be starting in about half an hour, I've processed the follow quantities (not counting my swatch):
Raw, uncleaned, chunks of fleece: 2 lbs. 4.1 ounces
Cleaned: 1 lb. 4.6 ounces (three fewer chunks are in this number than in the previous)
Combed: 8.8 ounces (I've combed four chunks)
Or, just looking at the completed bunches:
Raw: 1 lb. 4.1 ounces
Cleaned: 14.2 ounces (a loss of 5.9 ounces of gunk and lanolin - 29% reduction in weight)
Combed: 11.0 ounces (a loss of an additional 3.2 ounces of bits and pieces that aren't big enough to use - 23% reduction from cleaned total; loss of 45% of the original weight of the fleece)
...I really would like to have a pound ready to dye by the end of the month. I think this is pretty doable, but I've been lazy the last few days, until yesterday, when I discovered that after doing this most of the month I've reached a point that I can comb out almost 3 ounces of fiber in about an hour and a half (when I started it took me about an hour per ounce...). So, that's my progress. :)
Still, I'm definitely still learning. So, audience! Time for your participation! Do you know any great strategies for fiber prep? I spoke to one friend on Rav about this and it turns out how she does it is almost COMPLETELY different from how I was taught to do it, so now I'm trying to get a sense of just what people do. ;)
Check out all the Work in Progress Wednesday fun on Work in Progress Wednesday on Tami's Amis and Other Creations blog!