Starting with raw wool fleece is always appealing to me. I love the smell of fresh fleece, probably because I do not have sheep. Washing fleece is a very satisfying task.
Starting with the hottest tap water I can collect, I fill a 5 gallon pail and add about 1/2 cup liquid dish detergent (I use AJAX) and mix carefully with no suds resulting. Then I immerse about a pound of fleece in this water and let it soak for 30 minutes. Then (and this is the fun part) I dump it outside on my deck,
letting the dirty water run through the boards, trapping the fleece on the deck.
Years ago, I used to do all this in the kitchen sink, but when the septic tank guy came and saw the 8" thick crust on the inside of the tank, he asked me what the hell I had been dumping down the drain?!? So, now the first two washes get dumped outside, with all the lanolin(!)and the rest of the rinses happen in the sink.
So, back into the house goes the pail (empty) and more hot water is added + detergent a second time if it needs it (and this stuff did). THEN the wet and squeezed out fleece. Another 30 minute soak, and another dump. Then a fresh pail of hotter clear water for a 30 minute soak. Then a second fresh pail of hot clear water for a second 30 minute soak.
The fleece above is the natural charcoal I am using. I repeated this whole process with the WHITE CORMO I planned to dye. Once it was clean enough to dye (get ALL the tips clean!)I proceeded as follows:
I have this great electric roaster that I bought JUST for dyeing. It holds up to 2# of wool. So, I mixed my dye (3/4 CUSHINGS
DARK GREY and 1/4 PEACOCK)in water and added it to 2 cups vinegar and about a gallon of warm water in the roaster.
This gets mixed for a minute, and then the wool is immersed, with more water (warmer than the wool feels to prevent felting!) as needed to cover the wool. A slight drizzle of AJAX detergent is added (Tablespoon?) to help with bonding. Then I cooked the lot at 200*F for about 2 hours. The water looks much clearer when the dye has all been absorbed.
(If you use a microwave, this happens faster, but you have to dye in amounts that will fit into your microwave.)
Then I let the dye pot cool for 4 hours until lukewarm...dumped it out on the deck again (look out below!) and washed it in HOT SUDSY water, rinsing in HOT clear water. This final wash is ESSENTIAL to get out extra dye. If your rinse water is not clear, your dye is not set, and you need to start all over again with the cooking and the vinegar and the soap.
Posted by countrywool
at 1:02 PM EDT