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Author: Leonor

Textile artist, indie dyer, conjurer of fluff.
Not for Hélène’s eyes – Christmas “card” swap

Not for Hélène’s eyes – Christmas “card” swap

This year, our merry (see what I did there?) group of crafters/blog writers decided to do a card swap among us. It didn’t really have to be Christmassy, it just needed to somewhat resemble a card.

The idea is to overthrow the ephemeral notion of a Seasons Greetings card on its head and make something with your own hands that a fellow crafter will appreciate and want to keep.

I was partnered with Hélène, felter extraordinaire, so I was naturally stressed out. I knew my card wouldn’t begin to compare with anything she created, but I put those pesky defeating voices aside and got to work.

It took me a few days to come up with a jolly (ha, again!, I crack myself up) theme for the time of year, and decided to join two strengths of mine: pattern search and knitting. Off to Ravelry I went browsing, and settled on Stay Cool  by Drops Yarn.

Ravelry first page results for patterns with the term "snowflake"
First page results on Ravelry for the term “Snowflake.” Pretty, but not very card-like…

Stay Cool is meant to be a pot holder but I adapted it to be slightly longer on two sides and kept the back plain so I could attach it to cardboard. In hindsight, I could have knitted both sides in pattern, but at this point I was still a little fuzzy on my end goal. (Sorry, Hélène!)

I used my own hand spun yarn because I wanted the “card” to be as handmade and personal as I could possibly make it. If you want to get geeky with me with specs, I used white Shetland spun woollen from pencil roving for one yarn, and an Alpaca/Polwarth blend spun worsted for the brown.

A printed version of the pattern on top and the finished knitted snowflake "card" on the bottom

Not unsurprisingly, the back came out “longer” than the front, despite having the same number of stitches. I should’ve predicted this because fair isle knitting constricts patterns a bit, but alas, I didn’t remember.

Now came the daunting part for me: wet felting. I wanted the end result to be a fuzzy and smaller version of the knit, so off I went to the kitchen sink armed with bubble wrap, soap and very hot water.

If you think this felted right away, you’d be wrong. Nothing happened for the longest time! In fact, I nearly despaired because my idea was to fuse the back to the front, and that never happened. Apparently, knitted jumpers accidentally machine washed only become tiny versions of themselves if you never intended for them to shrink – Sod’s law!

After what seemed like four years of wet felting, here’s what my snowflake looked like:

Knitted snowflake after wet felting, on cardstock background with "Merry Xmas" written on top with iridescent ink

Hopefully it still looks like a snowflake to the untrained eye. I punched holes onto the thickest paper I could find and attached the wool to it with string, because I want Hélène to be able to take it out and use it as a coaster (or something else functional of her choice). This way she can always have a laugh every time she reaches for a hot drink and sees my meagre wet felting technique.

Detail of "Merry Xmas" wording on card showcasing the ink's shimmer qualities

The ink I chose has gold shimmer in it, which I found quite Christmassy. I hope Hélène can forgive the “Xmas” instead of the word proper – I ran out of space.

(Aaand, a little confession: I cheated and sent my card swap partner something extra… ‘Tis the season, after all!)

A very cute needle felted Christmas tree with baubles and a star on top, made by Eleanor Shadow

That’s it from me. I have a newfound respect for anyone who takes the never-ending task of wet felting. What advice would you give me for future soapy endeavours?

I’ve been spinning a little in the past month

I’ve been spinning a little in the past month

You know how when you get excited about one hobby, the other ones get left behind? Well, for some reason I’ve been bitten by the spinning bug in the last month, and I’ve a few skeins to show for.

Let’s start with the green-blues.

Four skeins of hand spun yarns by Eleanor Shadow

The big green skein was spun using some Leicester Longwool locks I dyed for this purpose, since I wanted to make a super Halloween-y textured art yarn; I plied it with some commercial yarn (also dyed by me) that I had to over twist in my wheel so it would un-twist as I paired it with the textured ply.

The smallest skein is baby llama, my very first time spinning such a fibre. I’m a fan! I’d love to spin more of this in the future. It’s very soft and warm.

To the right there’s a fun Blue Faced Leicester (BFL) and bio-nylon yarn that I tested for my own shop (got to know what I’m selling, right?) and I can say I love this fibre combination. The BFL is very soft and lofty, and the bio-nylon increases the strength of the wool without harming the environment since it’s as fully compostable as the natural animal fibre. I’d have no problems knitting some socks using this yarn.

At the bottom, a rather fun jewel tones Shetland and Tussah silk combo (70/30) that just glided off my hands effortlessly.

But wait, there’s more!

I was perusing World of Wool’s website a while back and came across their taster package in shades of pink, and was tempted. Each resulting mini skein is 25g and very squishy.

Six hand spun mini skeins in different shades of pink and in different fibre combinations

From left to right: merino and nylon sparkle; merino and silk; merino; wool and viscose; merino, alpaca and mohair; merino and bamboo.

My favourite to spin was the (mysterious) wool and viscose. Those tweedy bits kept me very engaged and wanting to keep treadling! The merino/alpaca/mohair blend to its right was also rather lovely. Although these all came from the same pack, I don’t feel the shades complement each other too well, so I might not try to add them to the same project in the future.

You’d think I’d be done by now, but… there’s more.

Three hand spun yarns by Eleanor Shadow

If my goth self in my 20s would’ve guessed I’d be spinning this much pink, I’d be appalled! But yes, those colours were all my choice. The pink of the left was a particularly bouncy merino and soy fibre combo, the middle one is a merino/alpaca/camel/silk blend (40/20/20/20) and the right skein is anyone’s guess (it’s a mix and match of several different wool nests a friend gave me to spin that I decided to merge together. I wish I had a jumper quantity of this!)

Lastly…

A merino hand spun skein in jewel tones by Eleanor Shadow

I dug into my own shop’s stash for this one. The colours were super well defined in the fibre braid, but I decided to spin them in a way that would blend everything and I don’t regret it one bit. This would knit up rather nicely, I’d say. If my knitting mojo comes back anytime soon I might give it a try…

There’s actually one more skein, but it’s a white one and it didn’t photograph well…

So, do you think my wheel was busy, or do any of you spin more in any given month? Let me know below.

Summer knitting (but Summer isn’t cooperating)

Summer knitting (but Summer isn’t cooperating)

They tell me it’s Summer already. To be honest, I haven’t noticed… I know most of you reading after this post is published might be complaining about how hot it is, but I can inform you I’m currently writing this with a jacket on.

Ah, Scottish Summer…

I had lots of lovely knitting projects in mind for the warmer months of the year, two of which involved making some season-appropriate tops to wear when the sun was out. This would be my first time knitting something Summer-specific and I was very excited about the prospect.

Have I mentioned “Ah, Scottish Summer” yet?

Anyway, since there’s no view to wear these lovely makes anytime soon, I thought I’d share them anyway so you can at least boost my ego and tell me they’re lovely. Ready?

Ripple Halter by Jessie Maed Designs in neon yellow, on a hanger against a white door
Ripple Halter by Jessie Maed Designs

In another blog post where I mentioned being brave enough to unravel my knitting without a lifeline, this halter top appeared briefly. I finally finished it! Just in time to enjoy it on a hanger instead of on my person… (this is knit in merino wool but it’s still too cool for the current weather, at least for me!)

My other fun knit is not quite finished yet… but my brain being what it is and hating an unfinished project, I can’t move on to another until this one is done – even if I know I won’t wear it anytime soon.

Gelato Tank Top on a hanger against a white door
Gelato Tank Top by Gabrielle Vézina

Note the knitting needles on the bottom! The white strip is some leftover yarn I used as a lifeline in case I wanted to frog the whole thing back (which I will, because I want a couple more rounds of stocking stitch before the edging).

Closeup of Gelato Tank Top lace front panel

I mainly knit this tank top for the front lace panel, which I thought looked fun. The yarn I knit it with is a linen blend, very soft and perfect for warmer weather.

Some of you might be reading this and saying, “But Leonor, you can wear these with a jacket, what’s the problem?” And you’d be right, that’s definitely an option. However, considering how windy it’s been in Edinburgh, I’ll want to button up the jacket, which will hide the layer underneath.

I guess I’m just grumpy this Summer has been nothing like I planned and want some commiserating 🙂

What about you, any fun plans for the season? Share them with the in the comments section so I can live vicariously! And, thanks for reading.

Getting brave with knitting (and a little bit of spinning)

Getting brave with knitting (and a little bit of spinning)

The knitting

I’m very glad to have finally regained my knitting mojo after such a long hiatus. Once the days started lengthening and getting slightly warmer, my brain seems to have understood it was time for my hands to get busy making again.

However, my attention span might have been left behind somewhere, for I ended up making a few mistakes that I missed until much later! I’m glad I did catch them though.

I was knitting a Poet jumper and the pattern has sections with seed stitch. Seed stitch is created by overlapping a purl stitch over a knit stitch in alternating rows/rounds, so that you get a sort of dotted pattern resembling… seeds (the name says it all, really).
Without noticing at the time, I repeated two exact rows and ended up with something… wrong that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Once I spotted the issue however, there was no un-seeing it.

A section of my Poet jumper, showing a knitting mistake somewhere

Can you spot the mistake? I can see it from a distance… It’s a little below the middle.

A finger points at a knitting mistake on a Poet jumper
Putting my finger on it. See the two yarn-overs on top of each other on the right? One of them is the extra row I knit by mistake.

This put me in a conundrum: do I ignore the mistake and keep going, or do I frog the thing and correct it? I put it to social media, and the vast majority told me to leave it and continue. Naturally, this made me decide to frog it.

For the non-knitters: the term “frogging” is used because when you remove the needles from your work and pull the yarn back into the ball, you “rip it, rip it,” which sounds like “ribbit,” the sound frogs make.
(Don’t worry, I too was baffled when learning this.)

Completely removing the knitting needles from a project and effectively ridding the thing of its unravelling potential is daunting to me. When one does this, one also loses all useful markers set by the pattern creator, and I always fear I’ll forever miss my place and be unable to proceed… I took a deep breath, chose to trust myself and off the needles came. I stopped a couple of rounds before the offending mistake and opted to “tink” (that’s “knit” backwards – I know, I know…) until I’d corrected it. Phew.

Here’s the jumper, all finished, after I was set back two whole days of knitting.

A knitted Poet jumper is blocking on wires and a blocking mat on the floor
Here is my Poet, blocking

You’d think my knitting snafus were over, but it seems I wasn’t done frogging… I started on my Ripple Halter and, a couple of inches before being finished, noticed I was one stitch off. Normally not a big problem, but this is a 2×2 ribbing which only remains correct if the right number of stitches are maintained, so I definitely had a problem.

I’d done it once, I’d do it again! Frog, frog.

Marshmallow the cat looks at my hand as my knitting project is frogged
Marshmallow offers her support…

This was also a scary one, because I had 8 markers I needed to put back in the correct place to be able to follow the pattern. I managed… somehow. Three more days of knitting, gone. It’s all part of the handmade process though, right?

The spinning

My spinning mojo has also returned. I wanted some textured art yarn and set about preparing the fibres to make it happen.

Once my Leicester Longwool locks were dry, it was time to spin.

Now I need to decide how to ply this. I think I might dye some wool top neon green, spin it  thin and use it to create a textured, thick and thin art yarn. What do you think? Also: am I mad for frogging days’ worth of knitting for what a lot of people deem “small mistakes”?

Ever wondered what the difference is between wool top and wool roving? I wrote a blog post on it on my own website and would love it if you’d read it. Thanks so much!

Bad “art”

Bad “art”

If you’re anything like me, you’ll find it very hard to stick to one hobby alone. After all, there are too many temptations out there, and each creative endeavour fuels the brain differently – it’s fun to discover new materials to play and interact with, and see what comes out of the experimentations.

I rediscovered the love of journaling last October, and have since then filled two notebooks of ramblings, ideas, memories and opinions. As I progressed in my writing however, I noticed I was also very attracted by the notion of doing something visually creative with paper and stationery.

Now, I must add a disclaimer here: I don’t think the pages I filled are special. They’re not particularly beautiful or unusual, and that’s definitely not a negative thing – I started doing collages simply for the joy of playing with images and colours, and these were the space for me to have some non-commercial, creative fun. It was my way of relaxing and letting go of expectations, of “what will others think of this,” of any idea that one’s creative endeavours must always be amazing. I just wanted to get messy with glue and glitter.

A closed notebook on a white wooden surface

This is the cover of my A5 size notebook. It’s decorated with some leftover fabric (featuring cats, obviously) and the artwork from a tin of… Sardines? Cod? I might add more stuff to it as I go along, since I don’t consider any of the pages here “finished.”

Side view of my notebook, with all the wavy and textured pages

This notebook came with different types of paper, so I play with it depending on the “canvas” I want. As you can see, the middle pages have been used the most, and apparently I’ve not much love for plain white paper.

Open notebook, showing two pages of a collage

I tend to go by colour and texture, more than whether the things make sense together. My brain seems to enjoy adding stuff to paper until it looks filled enough and has things to make the eye wander.

Another two pages of my collage notebook, on a white wooden surface

Fabric scraps and teabags are game. See the eye on the lower left corner? I stole that from my husband’s studio, he’d removed it from one of his paintings – does this count as artistic appropriation?

Two unrelated pages of my collage notebook open

Collages made using medical information leaflets and other bits and bobs

If you can’t read the weird Balzac quote above, it is as follows: “No man should marry until he has studied anatomy and dissected at least one woman.” What a weird fellow he was (and I hope no one followed his advice!)

Collage using glitter, ink and paper

Collage in oranges, yellows and reds

I say this again proudly: none of these collages are groundbreaking or particularly good. What they are, is FUN. I loved making them with no end game in mind, no agenda and, until I decided to share them here, I was perfectly convinced none would ever see the light of day. It’s very liberating to create with full freedom from our inner critic and, if you’ve never tried, I urge you to give it a go. It might even fuel your creativity for the more “serious” stuff you make.

How many hobbies do you have? Are they all fibre- or textile-related? Let me know what’s tickling your crafty mojo lately in the comments section.

 

 

Hand sewing some rabbits

Hand sewing some rabbits

Recently, the Chinese celebrated the arrival of the Year of the Rabbit. How very fortunate of me, then, to have a couple of rabbits to hand stitch!

I had initially bough this Briar Bunnies kit for my mum, to keep her entertained during her Christmas stay with us… in 2021. My mother started making them, but lost steam somewhere along us all catching Covid and being flabbergasted by how messy our place was (if only she knew we had tidied up before she arrived!) After she left, the poor duo was stashed somewhere in my studio and completely forgotten, until recently.

Unfinished hand sewn Briar Bunnies, a kit by Cool Crafting

This is how my mother left her bunnies. The blue pen markings were done by me with a heat-erasable Frixion pen. The ink would guide the stitches and would disappear once I ironed the fabric after sewing.

You’ll notice there are two pairs of ears and arms. I had suggested mum make two bunnies at a time to avoid what in the knitting world is called “second sock syndrome” – when you’ve knitted one sock and don’t feel at all motivated to start all over again and repeating the same steps to make another… Once I took over the project, I followed my own advise.

The pattern expects you to machine sew the bunnies, but in my mind that would completely defeat my notion of enjoying the making process to the full. Machine sewing these bunnies would mean I’d be done in a couple of hours, not nearly enough time to be mindful of even having held them! Hand stitching was much better for that.

Two hand stitched bunnies, with striped leggings

My hand stitching skills are mediocre at best, but slowly I saw the rabbits shaping up. One of them has wonky ears and her leggings don’t quite match in the front, and I love that about her. It adds personality!

Two finished hand sewn linen rabbits with coordinating red and floral garments

Here they are all finished. Those dresses took me ages to make! I can’t tell you how long exactly, but a good amount of an audiobook kept me company whilst I slowly stabbed the fabric and, once or twice, my fingers. The bunny on the left was supposed to have a bow made with the same burgundy fabric as her dress, but after almost losing my mind turning the other bow inside out, I decided to go for a red ribbon instead. It’s not cutting corners, it’s being creative…

Have you hand sewn anything lately? Do you love or hate the notion of slow stitching? Let me know your thoughts.

 

November challenge: knitting for charity

November challenge: knitting for charity

As I was scrolling through Instagram one day, I saw this advert by Dementia UK asking people to join their November challenge: to knit every day for that month and raise money for their charity.

I’d never done this sort of thing before, and felt compelled to join and see how I’d do. It’s a worthwhile cause, and charities are always in need of money.
It has to be said that, in the past, I’d probably shy away from such a challenge because I’d fear “not reaching my goal,” which Present Me finds silly – I’m not doing this for brownie points, it’s not a measure of my self-worth and, more importantly, if I only raise £10, it’s ten pounds more that Dementia UK will have to help those in need.
Present Me is wiser than Past Me, don’t you think?

A dark grey hand knit jumper on a mannequin

Here is my first make, which I finished in, I think, 5 days. It’s knit with super bulky wool, so it goes along super quickly.
This is a free pattern by Drops Yarn – very fitting, because the yarn is also by Drops – and it has to be said, the instructions could be better. There were a couple of techniques I had to look up in video format because the written instructions just didn’t make any sense (to me, anyway). I also made a few changes here and there, one of them being some waist shaping. I also changed the sleeves a little to adapt them to my small frame.

A closeup of my hand knitted grey jumper, where I show the shoulder detail.

It’s a very warm jumper and I’ve worn it several times to help with having lowered my thermostat at home.
On a side note, I might add a few more rows to the sleeves just to make them extra, extra cosy.

A hand knit grey beanie hat on top of a mannequin.

I had a lot of wool left after finishing the jumper, so I decided to knit a beanie hat. This was knit in an evening and I can attest it’s kept my noggin’ warm when venturing outdoors.

Finally, a bit of a cheat…

Remember my Dead of Night jumper, that I showed you in my previous post? (Apologies for the lack of link to said post, I can’t find it at the moment of writing!)

Dead of Night jumper, pattern by Dear Ingenue, on a mannequin

I had “finished” it a few weeks ago, but hadn’t woven in the ends. I took the opportunity to do so and therefore count it as another November make – hey, it’s not done until all the tiny details are finished, correct?
It did turn out to be too large for me as had previously mentioned, but in a lovely twist of fate, my mother loved the pattern and wants it. That’s one Christmas present sorted!
It’s not blocked yet, as I want Mum to try it on and see if I need to coax its shape in any particular way. This is why you can still see yarn sticking out on the sleeve, I only cut the woven-in ends after I’ve blocked the garment.

So, that’s my November knits. The more observant of you will notice I probably didn’t knit every day for 30 days. Sadly, you’re right! Life got in the way and I was unable to keep up, but I did share what I was doing on my social media and managed to raise around £70 total for Dementia UK!

Not bad for a first, and not very persistent, try.

Have you ever knit for charity? Share your experience with me. If you have any fundraising advise, I’d love to read about it.

Finally, happy holidays, everyone! I hope you have a nice season whether you celebrate or not. See you next year.

A little bit of knitting here and there

A little bit of knitting here and there

There’s been a bit of knitting going on lately around here. After months of no mojo, I was suddenly struck by the need to make all the things.

In my last blog post, I shared a link to my own blog (thank you to all those who went and left me a comment!) There was a photo of my cat Marshmallow sat on top of a yellow knitted work-in-progress in that post. I’m happy to say I’ve finished that jumper well before the colder weather hit! I finished it, in fact, in July.

I’m a weirdo who enjoys knitting things out of season, it seems.

Mohair Gallant Sweater, a yellow mohair and silk jumper on a mannequin.
Mohair Gallant Sweater

Next, I was smitten by a very goth-y jumper. It had little bird skulls all around it, and that was enough motivation for me to tackle stranded knit work.

I didn’t make a good start, though. I’m not used to reading charts and left a lot of stitches behind. It was too small, something I found out soon after taking this photo below. And look, the poor birds look like pineapples with eyes.

Dead of Night jumper beginning knitting on Eleanor's neck

My second attempt was much more successful… but it’s too big! There is no way I’ll be frogging this and starting over, so I’ll either be able to shrink it in the dryer after blocking, or I’ll have to gift it to a friend and knit another one for myself (gasp!)

Eleanor wears her unfinished Dead of Night jumper and shows how large it is in the body for her.
Dead of Night

Lastly, I knit something I had never tried before – a child sized garment! A friend of mine commented she had so much knitting to get done before Christmas and was a little worried she might not finish in time, so I offered to help. This is the First Leaf Jacket and it was an easy enough pattern to follow, albeit a little annoying in the purl rows.

I’ve since found out my friend has knitted the jumper version of this – she gave me jacket pattern because it was the one with the most purling, the rascal! I shall have to take revenge… maybe in the form of keeping the leftover yarn for myself.

First Leaf Jacket unfinished, as a flat lay, with the pattern and the gauge swatch next to it

First Leaf Jacket, pattern by Drops, not blocked, on mannequin

The ends still need weaving in, the buttons sewed on and it has to be blocked, but on my part it’s finished.

Finally, my favourite knit of last year. It needs to be shared because it’s too cute! I’ll confess I’m not 100% sure it hasn’t been shared by me already in the past, but Mason deserves the spotlight. Just look at that face.

My Dear Bear Mason, a knitted teddy bear, face detail

My Dear Bear Mason, a knitted bear, wearing yellow overalls and a neckerchief

That’s it from me in the realm of knitting. In the realm of blog posts however, I’m happy to tell you I’ve written a new one on dryer balls and why they are amazing. If you’d honour me with a read, I’d be deeply grateful.

Let me know in the comments what your favourite make of the year is so far, I’d love to know!

Let’s continue processing Muriel’s fleece

Let’s continue processing Muriel’s fleece

The last time I wrote, I had begun washing a lovely Leicester Longwool fleece from a sheep named Muriel. I’m done with the washing now, so it’s time to continue processing those luscious curls.

Some lovely washed wool curls still in fleece format, on a table

Since I mostly have these curls for selling, they need to be bunched into bundles. I like to do 1oz. (or around 30g) because it’s not too large, making it affordable, and it’s a great size for those who want to use these curls as doll hair.

Leicester Longwool sheep curls sectioned into bundles, on a table

Once I’ve created the bundles, some of them are sold in natural wool form, but others are hand dyed into funky colours. It’s so much fun playing with all the bright colour combos, because you can really let your imagination go wild – a lot of people who wouldn’t imagine having rainbow hair themselves love nothing more than to do that to their dolls.

How about using curls for long tail spinning? Felting? The choices are so many and each will yield their own beautiful results.

hand dyed teal Leicester Longwool locks

I for one hope I’ve done Muriel proud with processing her fleece, and love the idea that she grew the fibre, I processed it and then I’ll be passing it on to someone who will, yet again, change it into something else. The cycle of creativity at work!

Have you done anything with long wools lately? Let me know.

PS – I’ve finally started a blog in my own website! In my first post, I explain the 5 reasons why wool is the best fibre (preaching to the choir here, I know…) If you’d pop by to have a read, I’d really appreciate it 🙂

Wash a fleece with me

Wash a fleece with me

***This post should have been published yesterday but somehow the scheduling didn’t go through, apologies for the delay!***

The days are so much longer here in Scotland. When blessed with sunshine (which happens more than you’d think), this is the perfect time of year to wash fleeces.

I recently bought a Leicester Longwool fleece from a small farm that specialises in conservation of this rare breed. I’d bought from them before, so I knew I’d be happy with my purchase.

Now, for those of you who live in a house with a garden, washing raw fleeces might not be a somewhat mammoth task, but I currently live in a flat. Some creativity was in order.

I’m lucky enough to have a very generously sized kitchen, which is where the beginning of the processing begun.

part of a shower curtain is laid on the floor

I laid down this piece of shower curtain on the floor (it’s a leftover from my dyeing setup, I used the rest to protect the wall when working). I can already tell you I was naive and had no idea what I was getting myself into.

a bag with a fleece in it, with Muriel written on the outside

Here is the fleece, ready to come out and play. Muriel is the lovely sheep who grew the wool, she was so named because she mewed more than baah-ed 🙂
This fleece is around 6.5kg. You can already see where I was getting at when I said I was naive, don’t you?

Muriel's fleece is on the floor, ready to be unrolled

The owner of this flock was kind enough to send me some very good written instructions on how the fleece was rolled, and how best to unroll and wash it.

Leicester Longwool fleece on the floor, with human foot nearby for size comparison

If you’re laughing at my tiny plastic protection right now, I don’t blame you. I laughed too! I photographed my foot so you could have an idea of scale. Oh boy.

Time to sort the fleece according to body areas and discard the bits I didn’t want, which in the case of this particular fleece wasn’t much.
Sorting the fleece this way helps me know which parts will be more useful for different purposes. The wool on the back of the sheep (which you can see in the middle) will have better curl definition, and the bits near the rear end will be coarser and less curly. There’s a use for each part, but I want it separated so I can work quickly once it’s all washed.

I must give credit to the shearer, he did a stellar job. I had hardly any second cuts (tiny bits of wool you get from when the shearing machine goes through the sheep a second time, to even the “haircut” out). This person was definitely removing the fleece knowing it was to be used by a crafter, which I greatly appreciated.

closeup of the fleece with very dirty tips and extremely white cut ends

Have you ever wondered about how dramatic a Before and After can be in washing fleece? Here’s your answer. The end bits have been subjected to the elements, the part nearer the animal is pristine. Once I’m done, I hope it’ll look mostly like the white bits.

Next, I carefully roll up the fleece into sections to soak.

a rolled up section of fleece, ready to be soaked

What one does next with a fleece depends on personal preference. I like to soak it in cold water and change the water often, until most of the lanolin (the natural oils the sheep produces to protect its coat) is washed off. Once that’s done, I use very hot water a few times, and then add detergent to it. Once the water comes out mostly clear, I’m done. All that’s left is to rinse it, lay it flat to dry and then play with the lovely curls.

two fleeces soaking, one dirty and the other almost clean

Notice the huge difference! The one on the right already has some detergent in it, the left doesn’t as it still needs a few more cold water soaks.

I’m sure some readers will be worried about processing a fleece indoors. Allow me to share what I did to stay safe and clean:

  • Firstly, I purchased the fleece from a trusted high-welfare farm, which means the sheep are kept happy and are constantly monitored for health issues (thus ensuring the wool isn’t contaminated with pests or other nasties)
  • The fleece was always handled with gloved hands and I never touched other surfaces whilst doing so.
  • I never ate or drank whilst processing the fleece
  • Once I was done separating it into sections, they went into plastic bags and all surfaces were thoroughly washed, even the ones that the wool never touched, such as counters
  • The bathtub was thoroughly washed and sanitised before being used by humans
  • (Finally: if you have pets, make sure they stay away from raw wool! My cats are abnormalities and didn’t care one bit for it, so they stayed away on their own.)

On my next blog post, I’ll share how the fleece came out once dry and the locks separated.

Have you ever washed a fleece? How did your experience compare to mine? Let me know in the comments.

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