Despite spending all day every day working with fibre, I somehow can't seem to get enough of the stuff. Today was the first dry day we've had in this part of Wales for a while, and the next dry day had been ear marked as fleece washing day.
I've had a Speckle Face fleece from a local farmer in soak for longer than I care to remember. I cold water soak all my fleeces for at least a week before I wash them. It really helps to get the worst of the dirt out, and softens up any particularly crusty bits.
As well as the Speckle Face ( which I can get more of so was willing to be a bit rough with), I'd also got 250g of black gold! Some Bond that has been imported from Australia, while it wasn't particularly expensive, getting hold of it involved a 3 month wait for the fleeces to take the boat from Down Under.
The Speckle Face was hauled out of soak (I have a huge mesh bag that makes soaking fleeces much easier), and gently (you can still felt with cold water if you agitate enough) rinsed with the hosepipe, just enough for the dirty water to rinse out. We have some decking in front of the caravan which lets the dirty water drain off.
After that I pull off sections, and they go in to soak with a good glug of washing up liquid.
It stews for a while, and then I rinse in more hot water (about the same temperature as the original soapy water). This fleece wasn't particularly grubby (though does have lots of vegetation stuck in it) so I left it at that, by keeping the amount of fleece in the water low, I got away without doing further washes and rinses.
While the Speckle face got the rough treatment, the Bond was well and truly cosseted. I pulled off small chunks, and put about 5 or 6 in the sink in as hot water as I could get (a blend of hot water from the kettle, and very hot water from the tap) with a very big glug of washing up liquid, after about 5 minutes I pulled out the chunks, and rinsed them in a bowl of water of the same temperature. Again, this fleece wasn't very dirty, the sheep are kept coated which keeps the worst of the dirt off, so it was just to get some of the grease out.
The end result of a whole day of washing, beautiful soft piles of fluff that I plan on spinning just as they are
And this is why I buy commercially prepped stuff for the shop.... a whole day, to wash just over a kilo of fleece.