I haven’t felt like doing much besides spinning (although I did start reading a book by Elizabeth Peters that my mother in law had suggested to me at Christmas and I hadn’t gotten to), so I have been not just spinning, but washing up some fleece, too.
The short description of what I do (but I don’t generally do a whole fleece at a time, FWIW) is to take a portion of the fleece, shake it all out. I often tear it apart with my hands–I’m not sure if this is the way it is supposed to be done, but it helps get vm out. I put pieces into mesh zippered (lingerie) bags. Fill up a bucket (that I can lift when it is mostly full–possibly several buckets at a time, all lined up on my kitchen floor) with hot (tap) water and some squirts of shampoo or dish soap. Pop 3 or 4 lingerie bags into the bucket and let it sit (15 minutes or more–if there is lots of stuff sticking the locks together, I might leave it all night). Lift out the bags into another container (often a big bowl), dump the dirty water out outside (to avoid getting a lot of lanolin in my pipes). Repeat with soap another time, maybe two, then with just hot water a couple of times for rinsing. You don’t want to agitate the fleece too much, which is why to put the wool in mesh bags and remove them when you do water changes. The bags keep you from losing lots of bits of wool and facilitate everything. When I think the fleece is pretty clean (I don’t call it “scouring” and usually have some lanolin left of the wool, but I like to have most of the dirt off!), squeeze it out, take the wool out of the bags and fluff it out over a window screen or similar (I have a drying rack in my less-used bathtub, away from the cats, I put a screen and/or a piece of hardware cloth over the rack and put the wool on there) and check on it every so often, re-fluffing and turning, until it is dry. If I’m going to dye it, I might do it when it is still wet so I only have to dry it one time.
THEN, I fluff/pick some more to get most of the vm out (removing sticks, big pieces of grass) and stick the fluff into (for me, usually) brown paper grocery sacks. I write the info about the breed/sheep/date/whatever on the bag. When I have more time, I take out the dry wool and pick through it a bit more. Some of it gets just semi-combed with an afro pick and I spin from clouds of fluff. some of it gets hand carded (dog slicker brushes work for this, although they are small and it takes more time) and spun.
Some of the Suffolk I spun up fat, woolen-style. So fat that I ended up plying it on my charkha/bicycle wheel so I didn’t have to worry about it getting stuck in the orifice or the hooks of either of my other wheels.
(the other white wool on the right is also fat-spun from Sheep Shed spinning bells on my Traub)
I LOVE this white & pink fat, soft yarn (only around 82 yards), but I completely messed up with the dyeing that I attempted. First I thought I would try to use Procion dye with vinegar and heat (I used the microwave, and maybe not enough)–earth green didn’t take at ALL except for on the ends, which came out slightly brown. Then, not to be discouraged, I tried microwaving with vinegar and black Wilton’s. I figured it would split and I would get pretty green and pink and whatever. All that stuck was the pink. And a teeny bit of green. But, when I carded it up, I sorta liked it and I alternated the pinky bits with white (non-dyed) bits and spun that yarn.
Some of it I’ve dyed a sortof goldenrod color with turmeric and I’m getting ready to spin that up. I think it will not be so fat, but still woolen, and maybe I will make “Sunny” fingerless mitts. Possibly some for some other family members.
Oddly, I’ve knit next to nothing. I made a teeny tiny pocket prayer shawl for DH before he left to visit his mom & dad. My heart is not in any other projects right now. When the turmeric fleece is all dried, I’m in a big hurry to spin it and try those mitts.