Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Washing Cormo (and washing, and washing and...)





Not a lot of lace knitting going on here but lots of washing of fleece while it's warm enough to dry the stuff. We are having issues with drought and so I was looking for an alternative to using a washing machine to soak/spin my half Cormo fleece. It's been years since I've tried to wash a fleece and I have no experience with Cormo in my past. All the information on the Internet told me that I would have to wash it more than once and with very hot water since Cormo has a heck of a lot of lanolin in it. What I found is a great method for small amounts of fleece on a blog called "The Independent Stitch" that involved using a kitty litter system that has a nesting "sieve". No agitation, just soaking the dirt away. I did a total of three washes with 20 minutes of soaking (you can't let it cool or the lanolin re-deposits back onto the fleece). I used a combination of hot tap water and water I boiled on the stove and Dawn dish washing detergent as the surfactant. Two rinses with hot water and drip/dry using a two tier sweater drying system I got at the local Chinese dollar store for $4.00. I must say that the fleece came out really nicely and it has just enough lanolin left in it so the fiber doesn't feel dry or lifeless. If you don't agitate it, the structure of the locks is maintained and you can then either flick card or possibly use combs. Now I don't happen to own any combs but I had my eye on a set of mini-combs that might be very nice to try out. I'd consider larger combs but let's face it. If all I'm spinning is lace weight yarn, there is not really any reason to buy 4 pitch English Combs which are the "Freddy Krugers" of the spinning world. Only 8 more rows to finish the "Salmon Queen" doily so I hope to show that on the next post. Good evening to you all :-)

19 comments:

aija said...

Absolutely beautiful! Look at that length-- those locks'd be just a dream to spin from directly.

Jane said...

Dear aija,

I tried spinning one of the clean locks and it makes fantastic lace weight singles :-) I want to spin enough of it up to make an Estonian Shawl once the book I have on Estonian Lace comes out later this year.I have it on pre-order on Amazon :-)

missalicefaye said...

aw, but I want to see pictures of you using Freddy combs. :) I'll be interested to see how you like the minicombs, though!

Rosa said...

That looks great. So white and clean. I've yet to complete washing and combing a Merino because it seemed like a large undertaking, but batches would work well for me. I can't wait to see your handspun cormo.

Laritza said...

Lovely fleece! I had a set of 4 pitch combs and promptly sold them. They are too heavy for my hands. I love the minicombs from woolcombs.com or the flicker.

Vtknitboy said...

great job on the cleaning and washing! you did it just as i would--same tips about the water temp, etc. one more tip: from Margaret Stove's "spinning merino and superfine wools" is to put the locks aligned same ends facing one direction, in a mesh bag, packed tight enough to stay in, but not too tight to muck em up. i used onion bags and other mesh bags. posts somewhere deep in my blog....vtknitboy.blogspot.com

ps: thanks for the email about the KAL!

Vtknitboy said...

oops, forgot. also from her book: spin off the lock. just flick each end to open it up fanwise, then spin off the end. lots of tips in her book about reducing tension on the wheel, holding at an angle off the orifice, etc. good luck!

Opal said...

I really admire your industrious fleece washing. You've got more fortitude then I do! :)

fleegle said...

Oh my--so much work! I hope the spun yarn is worth the effort :)

LittleBerry said...

the cormo looks lovely... I look forward to seeing it spun up and am waiting in anticipation of the salmon queen...

Jane said...

Dear missalicefaye,

My sister decided the mini combs would make a great birthday gift since I'm so difficult to buy for. It takes about a month for the man to make them so I'll show them off once I get them. I really don't think I could handle those big combs. I'm sure I'd pucture myself and then end up in the ER!

Jane said...

Dear Rosa,

I know what you mean. I only have a half a fleece to clean so this method is great when I have to be at home anyway for some other reason and have the time to wash a batch. I'm about half way through now. It's down to the most filty locks so I'm interested to see if the method continues to work well. There is a product called "Power Scour" that I might consider getting. It's stronger than Dawn and you don't have to wash the fleece as many times.

Jane said...

Dear Laritza,

Thanks for telling me about your experience with the 4 pitch combs. I was afraid that might be the case when I watched a U Tube demo on the technique. Those suckers looked really huge! My sister ordered my mini combs from "The Wheel Thing". An older gentleman makes them to order so it will be awhile yet.

Jane said...

Dear vtknitboy,

I've been practicing that technique using the Polworth locks I have at home and it works really well. The one lock of Cormo I spun using that method was just beautiful. Stlll, I have quite a bit of fleece so I will also experiment with the mini combs but I do plan to keep the locks all in one direction. It will give me a chance to use a diz which I have never done before. This is a great opportunity for me to try out a few new techniques. Thank you for your help. It's always nice to hear from someone who has already worked with a fiber or technique :-)

Jane said...

Dear Opal,

I don't know about fortitude but Greed really did win out this last shopping trip at Dixon. I could not help but buy this fleece and I don't want to let it sit around while the lanolin hardens up or it will be impossible to clean. While I slave away I will enjoy watching you spin beautiful prepared batts and rovings, sigh.

Jane said...

Dear fleegle,

Impulse buys tend to teach my "slow witted" self valuable lessons. LOL. I have been looking at beautiful pre-washed, pre-dyed locks of Cormo on Etsy and if this sucks big I will be buying my Cormo already to spin in the future!

Jane said...

Dear littleberry,

Everyone has been very patient with my UFO's. Salmon Queen looks pretty good. I hope the color is OK. One of these days maybe I'll knit a doily in plain white just to see how it looks. I love this fleece and the shawl will be white. No dye for this one.

June said...

This is a really nice looking fleece, I don't think you can go wrong with the Cormos at The Cormo Sheep and Wool Farm! Personally I haven't had much luck with the cleaning of fleeces until I learned to let them soak overnight (or for a few hours at a time with a change of water in between). Since I started that method, I have had great success! You also might want to consider spinning from the fold - I find it's a lot of fun!

Jane said...

Dear June,

I don't usually buy fleece since I hate to clean it, but this was so beautiful I could not resist. I wish I could soak this fleece over night but I've been told by a few people not to do that because Cormo has so much lanolin that it will "re-deposit" back onto the fibers if I let the water cool that much. Maybe it would work with other types of fleece though so I will keep it in mind should I be so silly as to buy another fleece! Thank you for the information. Every little bit helps :-)