Washing Lambie’s Fleece

Last year, I kept Lambie’s fleece for a number of reasons – I didn’t want to part with it, no one had asked for it, and my friend, Karen, had offered to show me how to wash it so I could perhaps use it for my felting.  Imagine a whole little flock of real Lambie’s!  How divine would that be.

We decamped to the stable and pooled our equipment.  Karen had a very nifty little boiler (very jealous) and I had my single electric ring and my “head-boiling” pot.

Karen spread the fleece out on the hay bales, looked at it and showed me which bits were worth washing and, more importantly, why.

Because Lambie is a flekkit sheep (black and white), his coat is of varying quality according to the colour. He is also double-coated, which is not a Good Thing.

This is the lovely wool from around his neck.

He has a nice little curl too.

And the terrible “carpet quality” hair which is very tough and might be good for something.  Pony’s manes…..?

Karen pointed out the lanolin bits and sorted what to keep and what to chuck.

We divided the fleece into workable pieces.

Three buckets at the ready with cold water in the bottom.

Very hot water added to the cold and 5 elephants of Fairy Liquid (count up to 5 elephants as you squeeze the bottle).  Then swirl but don’t make bubbles to mix it all in.

Next gently dunk the piece of fleece.

And wait for 15-20 minutes watching the water turn a lovely shade of brown/grey.

(Her Maj in attendance – always there)

Then, gently squeezing, lift out the fleece and put it into the next bucket of slightly cooler clean water.  You don’t wait long.

And then quickly into the third bucket of again slightly less hot clean water, not agitating the wool, but letting it rinse and soak by itself.

Then gently squeeze out some of the drips, picking out any visible detritus still remaining like hay wisps.

We hung ours on a drying rack.

We did this process again and again with each piece of fleece until we had washed most of it. There is a bit left for me to do later.

Covered with towels to prevent Mr and Mrs Wren from participating.

I brought in the first two pieces that had finished dripping to lie them on a towel on the warm Rayburn.

Lambie, for once, was clean, smelled nice and would be useful!

And yes, he came in to supervise.

So that’s what I did this morning.  When the wool is dry, I will learn how to “open up the fibres”.  I am enjoying this very much.  So interesting.






15 thoughts on “Washing Lambie’s Fleece

  1. Lisa

    “…my “head-boiling” pot….” LOL! That is hysterical! What is a “Rayburn”? Is it a type of wood stove?

  2. Sue B

    I am embarking on a similar journey.
    Been spinning for a while with prepared fibre.
    Have washed some fleeces with a few more to go.
    Then need to pluck up the courage to card/comb and spin.

  3. Adrianne

    I’ve cooked on a Rayburn but dream of one day cooking on an Aga! And now I’m looking forward to having a Lambie made of Lambie wool…but will it come complete with crumbs of cheese puffs?

  4. Mo Hall

    Brilliant, thanks. Always interesting to see other people’s techniques. The “carpet quality” wool can be made into “carpets” on a double fleeced sheep quite easily. I throw mine in the washing machine whole with ordinary washing detergent and put it through a wool wash then separate the wool bits that will separate and leave the prefelted stuff together. Then I brush it and trim off the bits I don’t want – still pretty fulll of lanolin at this point, then throw it in the washing machine again and repeat the process, sewing up any holes or thin bits then brush it again and if necessary wash and brush it again and eh- voila you have a “vegetarian sheepskin” whatever. You might need to needlefelt a little on the back if there are thin patches but they make fab rugs.

    1. Frances Post author

      Fairy is a brand of washing-up liquid produced by Procter & Gamble at their West Thurrock factory, in England, launched in 1950. Fairy liquid is traditionally green, prompting the well-known advertising jingle “Now hands that do dishes can feel as soft as your face with mild green Fairy Liquid”.

      And now you know courtesy of Wikipedia.

  5. M in NC

    When is shearing day this year? That would give you some additional Lambie to work with.
    M in NC

  6. Maria Score

    Fascinating! I have been given three sheep fleeces that have been sat in bins for a while, open to the birds or mice. I also have a lovely alpaca fleece. I would love to learn to spin. A Kindly neighbour has leant me her drum carder and her spinning wheel. Need to wash it all first though – so most excellent blog Frances. Thank you very much xx

  7. Debbie

    A day of rest! After their rest and dormancy the snowdrops and crocus are a beautiful reminder of things to come!


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