Monday, April 29, 2013

What Do You Do With All Of That Wool? Washing

Washing wool is usually a job that I take on, but to be honest Mike has been doing all of the wool work lately. He has worked so hard all winter trying to get the mill put together, which includes washing facilities. Did I ever mention that my husband is a hard worker and one amazing guy?

The wool goes into a mesh bag after it is picked and is ready to be washed. It keeps the fleece in one place and makes it easier to work with.

It then gets put in the wash sink full of hot water to soak for about 20 minutes. The water needs to be hot (we use about 160 degrees) to get the grease out of the wool (also known as lanolin). You do not agitate the wool as it is being washed. Hot water and agitation cause the wool to felt.
No fancy soap needed. When I did a survey of wool washing most people used used  Dawn Dish detergent. Whatever soap you use the PH level should be between 7-9

After it has soaked, the bag gets put into an extractor. After the water is spun out we put it in a sink of hot water for the rinse.

This process is repeated twice. Our fleeces are generally pretty clean and the Border Leicester wool does not contain a lot of grease so two washings is more than enough.

The fleeces are laid out on tables to dry. Mike has been working on some drying racks to save on space.

You can see the bleached tips on the dark wool

The next steps are picking and carding.  I had a table sized picker and hand carder that we have used to make small batts. Now, we have this large intimidating machinery. Well intimidating to me, Mike being a machinery kind of guy, is not intimidated at all. He is the reason the mill is happening in the first place.  I look forward to when things are finally up and running smoothly. Mike has been pretty much on his own through this whole process. Eventually, I will be "trained" on how to use the machinery but until then I am just the "cheerleader" trying to give encouragement to the guy who has been working non stop to make this whole thing a reality!

When we get to that point I will add some more post about picking and carding the wool...
Wish us luck!

**After washing a lot of fleeces, I find that I like to wash twice and then rinse twice. Just a preference.


  1. Sandra, you sure have a great husband. I am looking forward to seeing your wool mill. Will y'all be doing other people's wool? I found someone to finally help me with all my wool. Well, maybe not all. I just want to learn how. Thanks for showing how it's done.

    1. Kris,
      We may offer processing services eventually but right now we are just planning on running our own wool, or wool we purchase.

  2. I just find this process so interesting! Do you spin your wool? Lots of hard work but the end result is just beautiful!

    1. Liz,
      I am a novice spinner. I have a wheel and a small stash of wool :) I do love wool and there are so many things you can do with it.

  3. This is so cool! I would love to be able to do something like this one day. I can't wait to see the next post.

    Also, the pictures of your farm animals are just too cute! Great photos!

  4. I know virtually nothing about raising sheep and washing wool. I enjoy reading your post on the process. Thanks for sharing with us!

    I hope you join us again this Thursday at:
    The HomeAcre Hop


  5. I am still doing my wool processing the laborious way and covet a big picking & carding machine. Until then, I'll use my table carder & box picker...but I'll still be coveting your new machinery . :)

    1. Thanks for stopping by Kathy!
      Hopefully, we can figure it all out. We have been running wool and still working out the bugs!

  6. I've heard it's really heavy when you're washing it. Thanks for sharing on the HomeAcre Hop. Please come back and see us this week:

  7. I have 4 huge bags of alpaca fiber waiting for me to start washing...I much rather the spinning step!

  8. Again Awesome - A wool mill brilliant idea! Right now I wash mine by hand in the bath tub. I actually wanted an outdoor area to do all this because I love to air dry the wool during the summer because it get's so hot here it dries quick. I also agree with washing and rinsing twice. Just makes sense. Great Ideas!

    Carole @ Garden Up Green


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