Sheepiness

So, it being a holiday week and with my boss out of town and most of my work done, I had enough time yesterday that I could take periodic breaks in my work to stop by the laundry room (literally two doors down from my office) and wash a fleece. I say this because while you would think “washing” sounds like an easy one-step process, washing a sheep’s fleece (or scouring, as it’s known in spinner parlance) actually takes half a dozen stops, all of which involve waiting a half hour or so in between. So, it was actually a nice break from the work I was doing, which involved reformatting Excel spreadsheets all day. Exciting, no?

I decided it was time to go ahead and scour the Rambouillet / Merino cross that I bought at the Estes Park wool market. Now, full disclosure here, this was my first full-sized fleece from a full-sized sheep. Previously, I bought a lamb’s fleece and half a ram’s fleece and have successfully scoured both. I quickly discovered that this was a critter of a whole different scale and that my previous method (neatly filling a large colander and soaking it, then lifting out to change the water) was going to require a too many batches.

After all, this is a water-intensive process because each fleece requires three soaks in soapy water followed by two rinses. Water being a fairly precious commodity here in the West, especially this year, I decided it was time to be a good citizen and figure out how to do this without requiring quite so many batches.

So, I stopped by Target over my lunch hour and picked up a jumbo laundry bag. You know, the kind that they make you get for your kids to take to summer camp so that their laundry gets some air and doesn’t come home smelling like the inside of gym bag that’s been left in the car in July. (Even if it usually does anyway…even the best plans can’t overcome kid sweat). But I digress.

I also picked up a large bendy tub that would allow me to put the fleece (in the laundry bag) somewhere to drain while I was draining the yucky water and running fresh. (Note my use of the technical term yucky. I hope you’re taking notes here. 😉 )

It started well. Here’s the fleece in the bag, ready to head into the water for its first bath.

Sheep in a bag (or at least the fleece thereof).

Then I put it into the first soapy water bath and pressed it down. So far so good.

The first hot soapy bath.

Here’s where it got a bit complicated. You see, I failed to realize this beforehand, but a full fleece, loaded with water, is H.E.A.V.Y. It smells like a barnyard and it drips a LOT of water. So I go to lift it out of the water and it feels as though it is stuck. It’s not actually stuck, obviously, it’s just that a full fleece weighs maybe two or three times as much as a lamb’s fleece or half a ram. I get it halfway up, it’s still dripping all over, smells awful, and I can’t get it to the bucket because of all the water pouring off of it. I can’t lift it any higher and I can’t get a hand free to let the water out of the sink. I am stuck.

I was lucky (or at least you could call it that) that this week my husband is working from home. He came along at about that time, saw my distress, and offered to help. Now, if you know my husband, you know that while most husbands would be very smirky about this sort of thing, he totally took it in stride. Here is how the conversation went:

Me: Wow, this is heavy. Can you help me get it out of the sink?

Husband: Sure, no problem. Lifts the fleece up. Wow, that really smells bad.

Me: Ummm…yeah. Thinks to self, he only just now noticed that? I’ve been washing fleeces for weeks. I guess now my secret is out.

With some maneuvering, we got it out of the sink and into its next rinse. I said thank you, and he headed back to his computer. We would literally, rinse and repeat until we finished the process.

Now, I don’t think I’m bragging when I say that for a spinner, the perfect husband is a guy who thinks nothing of driving across the state to pick up a spinning wheel (even one that belongs to someone else), making multiple trips to Greyhound to ship said wheel, and doesn’t mind the fact that one whole corner of the living room is taken up by wheels and the other corner by half-finished knitting projects. The fact that he also doesn’t complain about handling drippy fleeces or that our laundry room currently smells like a barnyard is pure icing on the cake.

Thanks, honey. How nice to have you home this week. 🙂

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3 thoughts on “Sheepiness

  1. Lisa H Ross says:

    It would be cool if you could wash it at the sale location somehow. Set up a “washing station” and offer it as a service?

  2. Janet Brosh says:

    Tell David that I am proud of the husband my son has become.

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