Saturday, July 30, 2011

Washing Fleece and Ice Fishing

What do ice fishing and washing fleece have in common?

The punch line: a “Bucket Seat”.

I don’t wash a lot of fleece….maybe one or two whole fleeces a year. Last year, I washed a fleece from “Lizzy”, a Romney/Corriedale/Suffolk X Ile de France sheep.

There are so many successful strategies for washing fleece. I live in the country and have a septic system; I don’t want to dump the lanolin-rich water down the drain, so I use a bucket system. (Then I dump the lanolin-rich water in my compost bin.) My strategy is to use two 5-gallon buckets, a colander, a wooden spoon, lots of hot water, Dawn (usually, but not always), and vinegar. And I do most of this (except heating the water) outside on my back porch.

One common bit of advice for washing fleece is to keep the succeeding buckets of water (pre-soak, wash, rinse, rinse again…) at a similarly hot temperature. When I first started washing fleece in buckets, I struggled with some sort of top to put on the bucket so that the water wouldn’t cool too much. All too often, my make-shift top would get blown off by the wind….even if I used a heavy rock to hold it in place.

Then one day, my friend, Becky McD, offered me the perfect solution: A “Bucket Seat”. This is a cover for a 5-gallon bucket that you can sit on! It’s really meant for fishing, especially ice fishing, but it does the trick for keeping the water hot during fleece washing.

Since then, fleece washing has become a reliable production for me. I highly recommend a bucket seat.

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