So, the big box of fleece in the dining room has almost all been washed! Now, how did I come to do this myself rather than shipping it off to a fiber milling company for processing? I contacted The Yarn Spot, an LYS that has spinning classes, and Jennifer has been kind enough to correspond with me about the process and to recommend a company in Frederick, MD, Singleton Fiber Processing (http://www.singletonfiber.com/), that would "skirt", wash, and "card" the fleece. Having been trying to do it myself over the last few weeks, I now think that the price that they charge is probably quite reasonable!
But, I decided to do a little more research about the process and came across an article by Fuzzy Galore that gives many compelling reasons to do it yourself and also walks you through the process. Here's my experience:
1. First, be prepared! You'll need rubber gloves, sturdy scissors, lingerie bags, a dish pan, Dawn dish washing liquid (the original blue version), white vinegar, a salad spinner, and a place to spread out the fleece to dry.
2. The raw fleece is pretty messy, with "vegetative matter" scattered about. Your first step is to cut and pick out as much of the junk as you can from the edges. Don't be surprised if you end up throwing away almost half of what you started out with.
5. I spread the washed fleece out on a large thick towel to dry. It takes about 2 days to dry completely. There will still be little bits of stuff in the fleece, so you might want to pick as much out as you can, but I'm hoping the remaining stuff will come out when "carding" the fleece (that's the next step, and I need to learn about that before the next blog post!)