One fleece Sylvia got was from a sheep named Harley. The other fleece was from a lamb named “Sylvia”. The shepherd had actually named the sheep after my friend Sylvia.
I begged Sylvia (my friend) to sell me a bit of “Sylvia” (the lamb’s fleece). She consented to parting with 6 ounces. This was a couple months ago. On Saturday, the weather was perfect for washing fleece: sunny, breezy, and low humidity.
So that’s what I did: I washed my 6 ounces of “Sylvia”. First I put the wool into a mesh bag. I washed the wool using two 5-gallon buckets: One pre-soak in plain water (about 30 minutes); one wash with regular Dawn dishsoap (about 15 minutes), one rinse with water and a glug of vinegar (about 20 minutes), and another rinse with just water (about 20 minutes). I used very hot water for each step (about 2 gallons of the hottest tap water plus a kettle full of boiling water). And I put a lid on the bucket to keep the water and wool hot. After the last rinse, I spun the fiber out in the washing machine. Then I put the fiber on a sweater drying rack with a fan on it (on low). The fiber was perfectly dry the following morning.
I couldn’t keep my hands off “Sylvia”. Now, “Sylvia” is made up of many colors of grey. I mulled over whether to separate the colors or to blend them. I decided to do both! First, I separated the clean wool into 4 piles: very dark charcoal, medium charcoal, medium grey, light grey.
On Sunday (yesterday), I started hand combing the wool, using my Valkyrie 2 pitch hand combs. I started with the darkest charcoal. After I hand comb all the clean wool, I plan to roughly blend the colors on my drum carder. I want to ultimately spin some sock yarn that will be a variegation of “Sylvia” and her greys. Then, I’ll knit a pair of socks: for Sylvia!
Here’s a picture showing the washed wool and the bit that I hand combed yesterday.