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Deb Robson and Tussah

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August 01, 2008


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Where did you find that snazzy drying rack?

Deborah Robson

Yup. Very snazzy. That's four units of "Stackable Dryer, Space Saver Rack" by The Clothesline, by Whitney Design. They're 27 x 27 inches. Item 04004. I got them at http://www.organize.com/swdrrastpvc.html .

They're lightweight and all four legs need to be evenly supported or they shift out of alignment. But if you set them up right, they work terrifically well.

Lola LB

So you're saying that a little of the Power Wash goes a long, long way? I'm thinking that the 16 oz. bottle should last me a good while.

Deborah Robson

Yes, a little of the Power Scour (or of the Fibre Wash) goes a *very* long way.

I have a large bottle because of the size of this project. I've washed a lot of wool already and made a noticeable but still small dent in it. I *may* make it through this whole project with the one bottle. That's astonishing.

If you're washing wool for your own spinning, rather than for other people or some other oddness like I'm working on, 16 ounces will see you through a lot.


Terrific post. I really enjoyed reading about your process of finding an efficient way to wash wool.

Linda Cunningham

You like Dawn, I like Sunlight. And for the same reason -- never liked scouring my fleece to a faretheewell. But the Power Scour sounds great, although finding Orvus here in cattle/horse country is both easy and rather frugal.

And I've got two of those nifty stackable drying racks (from Zellers, a discount Canadian chain) and they make life in this very small apartment much more amenable for the non-spinning human who shares it with me.

I should go and get a few more, as I've got a fleece that really needs washing: half is done, and the rest sits in my living room, glaring balefully at me.... :-)


Two wildly divergent bits for you:
try, in the really dirty fleeces, a bit of salt in one of the wash cycles. Don't know why, but it's worked on some of the filthier bits i've done.

Also, save that first, non-enhanced rinse water and pour it on your tomatoes--they LOVE that water!


Wow. I never buy wool unscoured, I'm far too allergic to sheep (but not wool). However, once I got rovings from a small farm which included mohair and 2 types of sheep. I could see no dirt but it was really oily/greasy and smelled a bit more like animals than I expected.

I used the washing machine and nylon net bags to get the fibers clean enough for me, and even with very careful handling it was pretty much felted when I was done cleaning then dyeing. What a hassle!

I love buying fibers from folks who process them for me. A local farm has wool/alpaca rovings I like a lot. I mostly use them for feltmaking rather than spinning. I seem to never allow myself to spin. Sigh.


Deborah Robson

Lynn, one thing about processing your own fibers--even if you only do it once--is, as you've noted, the gift of appreciation for those who do good work in preparing fibers for you!

Kris: maybe when I clone myself I'll be able to figure out how to run a hose out the bathroom window and over 15 feet to the tomatoes. Otherwise I'd have to traipse through bathroom, hall, living room, kitchen, dining room, out the back door, onto the back step, and down a quarter-flight of stairs to the deck and the tomatoes. The wool washing would come to a grinding halt because I'd be worn out before the end of the first batch was done {wry grin}.

There's the ideal, and then there's human capacity.


I've been slowly washing my way through a VERY dirty Cotswold fleece - about a double-handful at a time. This is my first time starting with a raw fleece, and I foolishly let it sit for about a year and a half before starting the project. (Which, I found out later, makes it harder to scour - lets the lanolin and the dirt really embed itself, or something.) I started with a flat-out panicky feeling that I would accidentally felt the fiber, hence the small amounts at a time. So far, so good, but I admit my heart-rate still climbs while I'm working with the wet wool.
I envy your drying racks - I'm using a huge baker's cooling rack that I got for Christmas a few years back - never got around to using it for cookies (and now, I never will...), and it's made a decent drying rack for my wool - but it's all horizontal, so takes up a lot of room. I'll have to search out racks like yours.
Thanks very much for the info on the Power Scour!


Wow, that's a lot of work per day! the project sounds fascinating though and you're tempting me with all that wool washing! I'd love to be doing that for a day or two instead of the grindingly slow reading/research I've been up to. The power scour sounds fascinating.

My suggestion regarding the tomatoes? Reserve one bowl of the yucky first soak water at the last wash through of the day. Truck it through the house once. Water one plant. Try that each day. It will be worth it for the plant, whereas if you were to transport all that water? You would be tuckered out just as you say, and the tomatoes would be flooded with compost tea!


Holy Crap! You have just confirmed what I have been thinking - and also shouting - for the last couple of weeks. I've tried every kind of wool wash as well as several dish detergents and when I got the Power Scour last month I was singing songs! It works so well with such a tiny bit.
I too tried to do the calculations at first and now I just use a squirt and get to washing and I am so happy with the results.
Fantastic! I carry it in my shop now and sell it to everyone I can...poor other wool washes:-(

Deborah Robson

Beth: I'm laughing. Interesting that we've had the same experiences! Deb


*Way Different For Apartment Dwellers!!*

Huh. Still seems like a lot of work, but then, I'm a city girl, and I don't do this for a living. I use lingerie bags of various sizes, whatever temperature of water comes out the bathtub faucet, and whatever dishwashing liquid is in the kitchen!
I also like some lanolin, especially in the winter, to keep my hands soft, but waxy things like Rambo and Merino I wash thoroughly.
I have one of those cheap rattan screens where the panels refuse to stay together, so I perch one of the errant panels on a couple of boxes and that's my drying rack.

Deborah Robson

Yes, way different for apartment dwellers.

I am pushing the limits of my space on this project. When I began it, I actually knocked out a wall between my office and the storage room behind it, because there was no place to put this stuff otherwise. Drastic! Apartment dwellers can't do that.

However, the storage room was the only space in the house that wasn't earning its keep.

These drying racks are neat because they disassemble into really small packages when they're not in use. That was as important here as it is in an apartment.

But if I had a broken rattan screen, I'd be putting that to use, too.


Storage *room*? In your actual dwelling? Wow. We have storage rooms in the city, except they're in big warehouse buildings and you can't get to your stuff 24-7. There's one right across the street from me, but I never know what time of day or night I may get the urge to do something wooly...

donna druchunas

interesting, June and I were just talking about problems with scouring wool on a small industrial scale here. There is nowhere to do this in Lith, so wool is sent to Poland. I will probably write about this when i get home.

Deborah Robson

The Mini-Mills folks (www.minimills.net) are the best resource I know of on small-industrial scale wool processing. I'd talk to them.

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