So this past week I went to a local Cowichan Valley farm and watched 18 sheep get their wool sheered! It was sooo COOL! I learnt alot about the process as well as the sheep! Where they each came from, who were twins, moms, dads and other neat little stories. I also got to check out all the SWEET little babies!!! Including a 3-4 day old and a 1 week old little lamb! I also got to bring my two children (2yrs and 6yrs) to watch everything and meet the animals (which included 2 donkeys!).
So I did a bunch of research and “googling” on the process of skirting and washing a preparing raw fleece and I thought I would share with you what I did!! So I took a bunch of pictures!
So I took all the fleece home in garbage bags, just because it was the easiest way to transport them. I ended up with 20 bags full!!! Yikers! The first thing I did was “SKIRT” (skirting refers to cleaning the fleece from unwanted parts) by laying it out outside up and pulled off all the poop and plant matter. It is a gross job, and I would use gloves!! once this is done you can store it in pillowcases or a sewn up sheet. That way it is breathing but safe from bugs.
I used big buckets, but use whatever you have around. You need to fill them with HOT water and add a lot of dish soap. Stir is gently so that you don’t make it to sudsy. Next I added peices of the fleece and pushed it down so that itwas fully submerged. Be very careful to not agitate the wool because it will felt together. Leave it for about 20-30 minutes. You need to repeat this process at least 2 times, 3 if it is really dirty. The soap and HOT water break the lanolin and grease up. Next you need to rinse it in HOT water again, but this time with no soap. And then again in warm water.
STEP THREE: Drying the fleece:
I used a salad spinner! We took smaller pieces and spun it around to get the excess water out. Then laid it out on some chicken wire and let it air dry in the sun! It takes a while but it is sooooo worth it. I found if I pulled the wool apart a but it dried better. I also used this time to pull out any plant bits that I might have missed earlier. When it was dry I stored it in a pillowcase!