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Deborah Robson Talks Washing Wool, Win Unicorn Fibre Wash

Feb 2, 2012

Guest star Deborah Robson visited the set of Knitting Daily TV for Series 800 and brought her expertise to the screen. Filming three segments, Deborah talked caring for fiber, avoiding yarn pilling, and dove into yak fibers. You can see all of Deb's videos on KnittingDailyTV.com. Here's one from episode 804:

Washing and caring for your fiber can make all the difference in the lifetime of your work. To celebrate our 100th episode, Unicorn Fibre has agreed to give one lucky winner a set of washing, rinsing, and scouring products to prolong the life of your knitwear. Simply comment on this blog for your chance to win, details below

Here's Deborah to talk more about washing fiber:

Washing wool 
I love washing wool, whether it's fleece I'm going to spin, a newly finished garment whose beauty will be revealed after its first bath-and-blocking, or a loyal garment that has earned refreshment.

Freshly shorn wool may be the most fun to wash, because of its dramatic transformation. The grease that coats the fibers when the sheep is using the fleece to keep herself warm through the winter is still soft, resilient, and relatively easy to remove. I think of the animal, freshly released from this seasonally necessary burden to enjoy the spring air (and to begin growing next winter's blanket), and I think of the fabrics I will make from her hand-me-downs to keep other beings cosy in the future.

Even long-stored fleece can be rewarding to put through the washing process, which releases it from a stiff accompaniment of old grease and dust. Although it's best to wash wool soon after shearing, in part because moths especially savor the "extras" that are removed when the fiber is cleaned, as long as you can keep pests away you can safely store wool for many years.

Here's Emma's fleece when she was done with it, on its first trip into the warm water that begins my washing process:

  • START OF CYCLE
  • wool has ONLY been soaked in warm water
  • tray on right has been removed, after the first of
    two water soaks, from the center tray
  • the dark brown is water-soluble dirt and suint
  
  • END OF CYCLE after use of cleansing aid
  • tray on right has been removed, after its cleansing
    soaks, from the center tray
  • tray on left awaits draining

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It's easy to imagine that she'd want to start over with fresh growth!

Emma is a Leicester Longwool sheep, a breed known for its long, shiny, strong fiber. The beauty of the wool becomes apparent after about two hours of soaking in a series of baths, beginning and ending with plain-water versions, and with two or three in the middle that are infused with a washing agent.

I've described the details of my washing process elsewhere. Today I want to talk briefly about the transition from dirty to clean, mostly for fleece but also for garments.

This image shows the raw, dirty wool on left and
clean wool on right (same fleece)

Washing or scouring?
Washing is what I just talked about. The process of cleaning raw wool is also sometimes called scouring, a term used in industry to include the removal of all contaminants from wool-scouring is "washing plus."

What might the contaminants in wool be? I say might because not every fleece will have all of these, and each fleece will have contaminants in differing types and proportions.

The big three, present to some extent in every fleece, are:

  • wool wax or wool grease
  • suint
  • dirt

Wool wax or grease is not water-soluble. It provides a protective coating, and, in general, the finer the wool the more grease it contains. It's the hardest of the three main contaminants to remove. That's the point for the sheep! It shouldn't be easy to remove!

Suint (think "sweat") is water-soluble-even in cold water. When we're washing wool, it's the easiest contaminant to get rid of.

Dirt is soil, and can be dust or mud. It can be sandy, or full of clay, or may correspond to any of the gardener's or farmer's other options, and it can be easy or hard to remove, although most of it isn't too bad. (Clay, of course, is most difficult, as it seems to be for growing plants where I live.)

Vegetable matter (or VM) is another contaminant that comes in many varieties. For hand processing, VM isn't, for the most part, removed during the washing sequence and its evaluation and management is a topic for another day. In industrial processing, treatment to remove VM occurs during the scouring sequence and involves a delicate sequence of chemical and mechanical maneuvers to get the plant material out without damaging the wool-a different topic for another day.

Some other contaminants-like dung tags, urine stains, marker dye, and insects-should have been removed before the fleece ever reached the washing or scouring stage.

What to use as a washing aid?
For the intermediate steps of cleaning wool, whether raw or spun or made into fabric, we have many choices in washing aids. I've used a number of them over the years. At this point, I have several criteria for the agent that I use. Oddly, they all start with E!

I want it to be effective, efficient to use, economical, and as environmentally benign as possible.

That means that I look for a washing assistant that

  • is concentrated so I don't need to use large quantities
  • creates minimal suds (which are hard to rinse out, wasting both time and water)
  • does not subject the wool to significant and potentially damaging pH shifts
  • works at moderate heat levels even for fine wools (in order to reduce the potential of fiber damage, and so I don't have to be boiling water or otherwise wasting energy)
  • cleans by bonding with the waxy or greasy particles, drawing them off the fiber and into the water so they can be rinsed away, instead of being knocked off through agitation (which can result in unintended felt, as well as more work for me)
  • does not involve enzymes (which continue to be chemically active even after they've been discarded) and
  • contains no ingredients classified as toxic.

     

knitted swatch of Leicester Longwool, commercially
spun yarn from the same flock that Emma is part of


I now use washing agents that are specially formulated for use with wool. I like Unicorn Power Scour for cleaning raw wool; Unicorn Fibre Wash for my yarns and finished products; and Unicorn Fibre Rinse as a final treatment in either case.

Dishwashing detergents and shampoos create annoying amounts of suds. I'd rather avoid the perfumes and colorants that many cosmetic products contain. Laundry detergents often contain brighteners, enzymes, and other ingredients I consider extraneous at best and damaging at worst. Some components of laundry detergents are actually designed to break down proteins (to get out stains like blood or egg), and animal-source natural fibers are also proteins! It is interesting to check these products' Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) or, for some items, the information in the Household Products Database maintained by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (http://hpd.nlm.nih.gov/ , "Inside the Home" and "Personal Care" categories).

I wash all my natural animal fibers at between 50 and 60°C (120 and 140°F), preferably on the lower end. Wool wax, the stickiest contaminant to remove, melts at 35-40°C (95-104°F) and damage to protein fibers can occur at higher temperatures. The length of time that fiber is exposed to high temperatures, and the pH of the environment, matter a great deal. Dyeing fibers involves balancing these factors in exchange for a rainbow.

________________

A practical footnote and a random fact

Footnote
Here's a quick note about washing fine wools in their raw form: When wool wax is dissolved, its chemical composition changes. If the temperature of the bath cools, the grease can be redeposited on the fiber as a scum that can be substantially more difficult to remove than it was in its original form.

Random fact
Lanolin is produced from a portion of the wool grease recovered from scouring liquid.
 ________________

Deborah Robson is the author, with livestock expert Carol Ekarius, of The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook: More than 200 Fibers from Animal to Spun Yarn. She has also worked with Interweave Press to produce the instructional DVD set Handspinning Rare Wools. She teaches internationally. Her website is at www.drobson.info, and her blog, The Independent Stitch, is at independentstitch.typepad.com.
________________

Simpson, W. S., and G. H. Crawshaw. Wool: Science and Technology. Woodhead Publishing Limited Series on Fibres. Boca Raton, FL, and Cambridge, England: CRC Press Woodhead, 2002.

von Bergen, Werner. Wool Handbook: A Text and Reference Book for the Entire Wool Industry. 3d enl. ed. ed. New York: Interscience Publishers, 1963.
_________________________

- For more on Leicester Longwool sheep, see "On the Edge: How a Handful of People Have Preserved Some Rare, Valuable Sheep and Their Wools," PieceWork, November/December 2011

 
Win Your Own Unicorn Fibre Products to Clean and Maintain Your Fibers!

Unicorn Fibre, a proud sponsor of Knitting Daily TV Series 800, is helping to celebrate the show's 100th episode season with a great giveaway. Simply comment on this blog post and you're automatically entered to win a set of Fibre Wash, Fibre Rinse, and Power Scour from Unicorn Fibre. You can read more about these great products, loved and used by fiber expert Deborah Robson. Tell us what fiber you're planning to clean, what knitted sweater you're trying to maintain, or share with us a horror story of a washing malfunction that ruined your fiber or sweater. We'll randomly choose a winner from all the comments at noon Central Time on Monday, February 13th, so comment before then. Read the official giveaway rules for more details.

This blog is proudly sponsored by Unicorn Fibre. Visit their website today for more fibre care information and trusted products.


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PieceWork November/December 2011

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Price: $9.99

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Comments

Logcabbin wrote
on Mar 24, 2012 1:34 PM

Safe and effective for your wool.

Valoria wrote
on Feb 25, 2012 11:15 AM

Thanks for help on wool washing.  I'll be more careful with what I wash my hand knitted socks with.

laurenkusa wrote
on Feb 16, 2012 5:17 PM

good to see info on washing.

on Feb 15, 2012 3:17 AM

I have a sweater made from a 1951 pattern that I finished recently. It's pink!

foxtrotter wrote
on Feb 13, 2012 12:03 PM

Am I too late? Hope not!

Monminou wrote
on Feb 13, 2012 11:42 AM

Thanks for the informative piece about washing and preserving woolen fibers. I have sweaters and socks to be washed. I'm going to share this info with my children so they can preserve all of my knitted items. They tend to not think about what they are throwing together in the wash.

PeteJustPete wrote
on Feb 13, 2012 11:31 AM

I've steered clear of non-machine washable yarns, but I'd love to expand my stash and try these products!!

PamF wrote
on Feb 13, 2012 10:17 AM

I want to clean some alpaca fleece that is loose and short- have already 'felted' a wool one and do not want the same result.

winky wrote
on Feb 13, 2012 7:30 AM

Love Unicorn Fibre Products video. This is really unique and informative video . I certainly would llove to try their product on my wool sweaters. I have been looking for a great wash for them. Unicorn Fibre wash meets my bill of requirements. I will look no further.

JanetM@12 wrote
on Feb 13, 2012 6:44 AM

This was very valuable information.  Thank you for sharing!

Laura wrote
on Feb 12, 2012 5:39 PM

Great article! Thanks for having the giveaway.

hc1951 wrote
on Feb 12, 2012 5:35 PM

Working through my very first fleece; a 12-month (i.e.10"-staple) angora fleece from a friend's goat, "Peggy" (no, not the pseudo-Russian credit-card guy on TV ;-) ). I knew not to agitate the fleece when I started washing it, but either I messed up or this baby was felted on Peggy's back! Still; it's given me a winter's-worth of combing in from of the television and the results are AMAZING! I wish I had known then what I'm starting to learn now, as I'm sure the whole process could have been much simpler, but I'm a "feet-first" learner, so it serves me right.

on Feb 12, 2012 1:48 PM

Very helpful article.  Apparently I've been washing my dirty wool at too high a temperature?!  I'd love to try the Unicorn products.

ConnieR wrote
on Feb 12, 2012 1:23 PM

Congratulations on getting to 100!  May there be many more.  

smskirvin wrote
on Feb 12, 2012 12:45 PM

I'm always looking for a better way to get fine wools clean in our very hard water. Would love to try these products!

KarinM@2 wrote
on Feb 12, 2012 12:24 PM

This was a greast episode to watch.

I usually have good results washing wollen garments.  I pay attention that the water is  tepid, not too warm; that the water is NOT running on the garment as it will felt and I attempt to get as much water out of the rinsed garment, often wrapping it consecutively in 2 towels and than drying it in open air, if possible, but never in sunlight.

Now that I will try my hand on some fleece and am hoping for good results.

ellie_h wrote
on Feb 12, 2012 10:52 AM

I love having the best tool for the job.

These products seem to be the way to go.

on Feb 12, 2012 8:46 AM

I've been wanting to try this product, and also to join KnittingDailyTV.  Now I'm inspired to do both!

rbndbld wrote
on Feb 12, 2012 8:28 AM

I would love to win. I have several 100% wool sweaters that need washing but am hesitant to do so.

GraceA@3 wrote
on Feb 12, 2012 8:23 AM

Wonderful article! Thanks for the information.

JillD@10 wrote
on Feb 12, 2012 3:49 AM

This stuff sounds awesome! If I don't win, I will have to buy some!!

lauriekram wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 11:03 PM

I just finished a sweater in Trendsetters Kashmir, and I am hesitating to wash it.  I really like how it is now,  and am concerned that once washed it could potentially be a completely different sweater! So I will postpone the inevitable as long as possible,  and at least get a couple of wears out of it before rolling those dice!  I would love to win the care kit, and see how well the sweater does with it!

lauriekram wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 11:00 PM

I just finished a sweater in Trendsetters Kashmir, and I am hesitating to wash it.  I really like how it is now,  and am concerned that once washed it could potentially be a completely different sweater! So I will postpone the inevitable as long as possible,  and at least get a couple of wears out of it before rolling those dice!  I would love to win the care kit, and see how well the sweater does with it!

O-Lillian wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 10:42 PM

On a clothes dryer, Air Fluff and No Heat are big, fat lies :) which I found out early in my twenties when I ruined five wool sweaters at one go, while traveling in Colorado -- yep, all five -- and not one since I learned a few things. A couple of months ago (many years later) I found a bag of several different "tops", at a thrift store of all places, all unlabeled, just beautiful, at about the same time I realized I need/want to learn to spin. So much knowledge just in this one post, is well-appreciated. I am off to get the books... Thank you!

GraceT@5 wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 9:20 PM

What an informative segment!  I am reading her book--facinating!

AngelaAlter wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 8:22 PM

I have a fleece just waiting for me to get up the nerve to try cleaning it. This article is just the hand-holding I need! Thanks.

Northof60 wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 8:00 PM

this article was so interesting!  i would love to win this this product to use with my merino and dog hair items.

thank you for this opportunity.

dsousa wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 7:59 PM

I have tried washing a raw fleece that had sat for awhile. The wool looked nice and clean but when I started to spin it I realized it had a sticky coating over it and it was very difficult to get out. I think I let the water cool and it redeposited. I did not know that the process actually changed the chemical composition of the wool wax. I guess that is why it is sticky when the greasy fleece is not.

PamF wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 7:51 PM

I have had problems cleaning  my fleece-this would be a greatly appreciated.

ccaj wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 7:48 PM

I just bought my first fleece to spin. Thanks for the tips on cleaning it!

on Feb 11, 2012 7:04 PM

I have a couple of fleece that need washing but seems like I never get around to them in the summer.

My plan is to wash them and then lay them on the hammock to dry.  Is there another way to dry fleeces?

KarinP wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 6:14 PM

I have a few fleeces that need scouring. An alpaca fleece and a Jacob. The Alpaca is so dusty I'll have to wait for warmer weather so I can shake out some dust, before it goes into the machine. I bought a fleece washing bag at a local woolfestival, that is really great to use.

on Feb 11, 2012 6:13 PM

Pick me please!!!

on Feb 11, 2012 6:03 PM

I was washing some wool in a relatively shallow pan and  left it to soak for a while.  What I didn't know was that two of my cats decided the pan was interesting and decided to play with it.  When I came back to see how the wool was of doing, I found they had completely felted a small portionof it.  It wouldn't have been so bad if I hadn't paid a premium price for my Merino fleece!  Swinging them by their tails suddenly sounded pretty appealing (of course, I wouldn't do that to my beloved kitties, no matter how frustrated they made me!)

on Feb 11, 2012 6:03 PM

I was washing some wool in a relatively shallow pan and  left it to soak for a while.  What I didn't know was that two of my cats decided the pan was interesting and decided to play with it.  When I came back to see how the wool was of doing, I found they had completely felted a small portionof it.  It wouldn't have been so bad if I hadn't paid a premium price for my Merino fleece!  Swinging them by their tails suddenly sounded pretty appealing (of course, I wouldn't do that to my beloved kitties, no matter how frustrated they made me!)

on Feb 11, 2012 5:50 PM

i have a few items that have been worn through winter that could use a washing.

MargoL wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 5:44 PM

I always appreciate getting scent-free items.  When I moved north a couple people suggested using shampoo and conditioner to clean woollies, but the suds can be hard to wash out.  I have a couple shawls I bought in Russia that I am very reluctant to clean because of all the rinsing I'd have to do - this would be great for my shawls!

AmyA@20 wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 5:04 PM

This was a really informative article.  I am just getting back into processing raw fleece and would love to be able to compare products.  The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook is packed with information - well worth purchasing!  Thanks.

Bonnie Long wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 4:50 PM

This was a very interesting article.  I thought I knew how wools were processed from sheep to yarn, but like most things, it is entirely different when you hear an expert talk about it.  Thank you for this article.  I also own the authors book.  It is very interesting and impressive.

I was recently given a sample of the Unicorn products.  I have been looking for a lanolin free fiber wash for some time since I am allergic to it.  I am more than pleased with the performance of the Fiber Wash and Fiber Rinse and have recommended it to my friends.  I am more encouraged to know that experts in the field (double entendre not intended) prefer my brand of choice.

Thank you for this article.

Bonnie Long wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 4:50 PM

This was a very interesting article.  I thought I knew how wools were processed from sheep to yarn, but like most things, it is entirely different when you hear an expert talk about it.  Thank you for this article.  I also own the authors book.  It is very interesting and impressive.

I was recently given a sample of the Unicorn products.  I have been looking for a lanolin free fiber wash for some time since I am allergic to it.  I am more than pleased with the performance of the Fiber Wash and Fiber Rinse and have recommended it to my friends.  I am more encouraged to know that experts in the field (double entendre not intended) prefer my brand of choice.

Thank you for this article.

4dscheer65 wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 4:17 PM

I'd use them for cleaning wool, and wool and silk blends as well as other wool blends.

D LouiseG wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 4:17 PM

The Unicorn line sounds awesome!  I'd love to give it a test drive.

D LouiseG wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 4:16 PM

The Unicorn line sounds awesome!  I'd love to give it a test drive.

MiriamO wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 4:01 PM

sounds like Unicorn products are the ones to use for cleaning raw fibers.

susanjd wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 3:31 PM

learning about good products and techniques for fibre care is always a pleasure

enigmaglyph wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 2:43 PM

Does anyone know if Unicorn Fibre wash will take out tobacco odors?

imtysma wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 2:32 PM

Not only do I need to wash sheeps' wool but I spin mostly dog fur from various breeds and while they don't have the same wax they do need a gentle wash to remove the doggy oils and odors without matting or felting the fur.

marlasm wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 2:30 PM

I received some dirty alpaca fleece yesterday.  I need to learn how to clean fibers!  I am just learning to spin.

on Feb 11, 2012 2:09 PM

Very helpful information. I ruined my husband's high school letter sweater when I used water that was too hot --- now it barely fits a doll.

Polarwitch wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 2:09 PM

I am just starting to work alpaca fiber and would love to try these products.

KathyR@55 wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 2:04 PM

I have used the Unicorn Power Scour to wash some fleece - it worked very well, much better than the dish detergent I would have used normally.  Sadly I don't have the Fibre Rinse or the Fibre Wash.  I would really love to try those out but I'm not sure if they are available anywhere near me.

JWilla wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 1:58 PM

Thank you for all the useful information! I don't take anything to the dry cleaners, they ruined a sweater once and I would rather carefully wash it myself. I have felted by accident a few times myself though. Would love to try this product!

sheoguey wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 12:50 PM

Fascinating. Your information frees me to home-care for my nice wool clothing! I feel I can and should visit my dry-cleaner much less often! Thank you.

Yarnananda wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 12:36 PM

This is a great product. I bought the wash and fiber rinse after watching this video several months ago. The rinse really works nicely to take some but not all of the itchiness from some of my garments.

Step4ord wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 12:33 PM

I had no idea but now I would love to try this product. I too want my wool to last.

makeefe wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 12:22 PM

Great information.  I'd love to try out these products.

Karen@319 wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 12:20 PM

It's nice to learn how to properly wash our handknits.  This sounds like a wonderful product and I look forward to trying it.  Thanks for all the information!

Carole G wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 12:06 PM

Wow, what a learning experience about changing raw fiber to those lovely silky wooly fresh clean locks we like to spin, etc.  Well written, concise, full of good details and I'm using those hints for washing my finished garments and washing some "earthy" wool that I have in my stash before knitting.  thank you for such an informative piece

dahartig wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 11:45 AM

An interesting informative article.

SybilW wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 11:21 AM

This is a wonderful  product.  I have used it for washing fleece in the past.  Great for washing knittied/woven fiber as well.

Goodenough wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 11:17 AM

How interesting to learn what is onvolved in cleaning fleece before it gets carded and spun and reaches my hand as a knitter.  I may never question the cost of a skein or hank of natural wool yarn ever again!  Sure, the commercial cleaning of fleece is less hands on, more automated.  I admire the people who raise sheep and clean and spin their own yarn, they are truly dedicated to their knitting, crocheting, or weaving hobby.  My hat is off to you!   Now that I know all this work is involved I definitely want to take care of my  wool garments.  June

SarahC@35 wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 11:13 AM

After 50+ years of knitting, I've decided that this is the year to knit at least one sweater for myself!  I tried once, in the early years before I knew about swatching and guage, and ended up with a sweater 2 sizes to small.  Would love to receive the cleaning goodies to use on my new sweater(s.)

BeckyC@24 wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 11:12 AM

I would love to try this, as I do a fair amount of raw wool processing and am curious how well it would work with my hard water in my area

Kip wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 11:09 AM

I want!  Pick me!  I deserve!

MichelleM@51 wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 11:06 AM

Wow, thanks for all the great information!  I would love to try the Unicorn Fibre products on my hand wash knits.

JoanS@3 wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 10:54 AM

I would love to try Unicorn Fiber wash on the handknits I create for my grandchildren.

lavinaruth wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 10:52 AM

I've always lusted after the alive feel of natural fibers, though not always able to afford them. I enjoyed the tour from Sheep to Yarn. I smiled at the phrase "unintended felting" - such a short phrase for a disjointed, exasperating, confusing, emotional experience. Yes, the memory of a lovely mohair shawl reduced to a matted mess has stayed with me for years. I'm excited to know about the Unicorn Fiber Wash and feel armed to care for my creations.

CathyB@14 wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 10:48 AM

Thank you for the information and good tips.

cgeyarn wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 10:39 AM

Thanks for a very informative wool washing video.  I appreciate being updated about

why shampoo and dish washing liquid are not the best choices for washing fine fibers.  

Laurijordan wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 10:32 AM

a very helpful article, thank you.

memcwilliams wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 10:30 AM

Very interesting and informative. Thank you!

MartiL wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 10:30 AM

I have been using Kookabura and Eucalan products on my hand knitted projects. after watching the video and reading this blog, I would love to try Unicorn products.

kuyper wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 10:23 AM

I have mostly used Orvus Paste when cleaning new wool. My handknit socks and sweaters would love to have a wash and rinse of their own! I do still have some Angora waiting for its first wash, so the Scour would be useful also!  

sviqueen wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 10:07 AM

I'm a new-ish knitter and have always held back buying really good wool because I'm afraid of the whole washing process. It's two-sided: if I'm going to put a lot of work into a piece, it should be make of quality material; but... after putting a lot of work into a project, I'd hate to ruin it by mishandling it. Perhaps a hit of Unicorn?

Plus, I have a sis who works from fleece on down - I'll pass this article along to her too!

vadergirl wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 10:03 AM

This is great post!  Thanks for all the wonderful and interesting details.  And the chance to win a great product!

PeggyR@3 wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 9:56 AM

I plan to clean mostly wool/acrylic blends.  The sweaters I'm trying to maintain are some sweaters that belonged to my late Mother, as well as several sweaters that I've knitted for myself.  The one horror story I have has to do with a pullover that I knit in a feather and fan stitch.  It took me weeks to make, and one washload to ruin.  Now it looks like feather and ruffles!!  I can't correct it.  Every time I try to wear it, my Husband tells me to take it off.  I hate to part with it, due to the work I put into it, so I put a cardigan over it if I go anywhere.   Thank you for the thoughtful and great giveaway!!

katbyrd wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 9:54 AM

I have been washing my fleece with dish detergents and haven't been totally happy with the process.  I would love a chance to try the Unicorn products!  This article mentioned something I have been wondering about--the fact that lanoloin is recovered from the scouring liquid.  Does anyone know if it is possible to do this at home?  I know it probably isn't practical, but I've just been curious.

Ruth@7 wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 9:52 AM

Even if I don't win, this is going to be saved as a webmail archive on my computer, just for the information provided (and not just from the video -- some of the comments had useful suggestions, too).

Back when I was taking weaving classes, the instructor said that to use shampoo, (rather than harsher soaps or detergents), for washing and fulling, especially for wool and silk.

yarnlady@6 wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 9:52 AM

great details and info, love the close-up pictures! am trying to find products safe to use on wools that felt too easily...

sadija wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 9:40 AM

Love all these tips and learning about great products from Knitting Daily, I would love to try the Unicorn range of products, I need to look after my precious handknits, as so much time and love and care go into them, and I want to keep them just like newly made.

Seakay wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 9:39 AM

I think that the worst washing disaster I had was with a hand knit mohair jumper that I'd made for a Christmas present. I decided to wash it before wrapping to ensure that it was as lovely and fluffy as possible; unfortunately the weather was so cold that I misjudged the water temperature and must have used it far too hot, and because I was using a bar of soap (because I didn't have any specialist product) the rubbing combined with the heat caused the wool to felt (and I didn't even know what felting was at the time!) and the garment to shrink. I ended up with a completely unwearable garment and only a few days to think of a replacement present!

Diane@241 wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 9:35 AM

I'd love to try some Unicorn products.  Just opened a small fiber mill and am always open to trying something to provide better fiber to my customers.

Jeannie O wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 9:31 AM

O.K.  I will try ANYTHING to make the washing and processing of raw fleece a little easier and with better results to the fiber.  So, I'm going to go to the web site and purchase a small bottle.

Diane@241 wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 9:30 AM

Nice article on washing wool

rztaylor wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 9:26 AM

After buying some Icelandic wool yarn from an area spinner that smelled like the bottom of a pig pen and ruining it by mutipe washing in dish detergent I am happy to know I won't have to endure this experience again.

rztaylor wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 9:20 AM

I' m new graduate to non manufactured wool and other natural fiber knitting and spinning. So nice to be educated in the care of these lovely fibers.

Mary KateM wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 9:19 AM

Very thorough peice.  I learned a lot.

ZoomomCanada wrote
on Feb 11, 2012 9:18 AM

I'm relatively new to spinning and my first attempts at cleaning raw fleece was with dish soap in the bath tub full of hot water...I now know more and have a lovely black Corriedale ewe lamb fleece to wash, plus some white angora goat and two colours of alpaca, all straight of of the animals. I will use a specialty product this time and look forward to better results than the old dish soap method.

I am glad to know I don't have to heat the water to boiling, as I think that is what felted my last fleece. Thanks for the hints and tips!

Rebecca Hood wrote
on Feb 10, 2012 4:18 PM

I love Knitting Daily, Deborah Robson and Unicorn Fibre so I was thrilled when I saw this post.  Great Job!!  Happy Anniversary!!

JanelleW wrote
on Feb 10, 2012 11:06 AM

Wow! You make it sounds so manageable to wash a fresh fleece, something I've never done before.  Perhaps in 2012?  Thanks for the super helpful details!

llamamom wrote
on Feb 9, 2012 8:10 PM

Finally! Freedom from multiple, multiple, multiple washes, hands that feel like steel wool by the end, and brilliantly wonderful wool as a reward!

MarthaF@4 wrote
on Feb 9, 2012 10:25 AM

what a great intro for fiber freaks that have never prepped their own wool before!

thanks.

bubeh wrote
on Feb 8, 2012 6:51 PM

A clear and concise demonstration. Thank you!

tosing wrote
on Feb 8, 2012 6:36 PM

I am a novice spinner and managed to aquire some alpaca fiber that I need to clean. I hear that alpaca is lanolin-free, but I want to do the wash properly and enjoy the spinning into yarn. I look forward to watching this episode when it airs. Is anyone else tempted to buy their own sheep/alpaca/goat when they see the many lovely things we can create from the fiber?

hnlafever1 wrote
on Feb 8, 2012 11:04 AM

I have tried several wool washes and have yet to be extreemly happy with them. I would love to try Unicorn!!

on Feb 8, 2012 4:27 AM

What about adding washing soda or even ammonia, to the first soaking of raw fleece? I don't know if I would even want to try adding ammonia. But I have washing soda around already that I use for different stuff. I never can find the straight answer to how much you should use? And for how long you should soak with it? So I have been to chicken to try it.

I use Kookaburra right not. But was planning on getting some Unicorn toward the end, of the Kookaburra. And compare the difference between the two. I am new to washing raw wool.  Its seems with some of my older fleeces and mohair, there is still some grease after washing? So that is why I was curios about the washing soda?  If its okay to use washing soda, some concrete measurements and instructions would be great! Thanks for the opportunity to win!

on Feb 7, 2012 6:03 PM

Happy Anniversary!!

I really could use some more Power Scour - I have a Coopworth lamb's fleece, half a Shetland, half an alpaca & some Jacob fleece that need to be washed. :)

on Feb 7, 2012 6:03 PM

Happy Anniversary!!

I really could use some more Power Scour - I have a Coopworth lamb's fleece, half a Shetland, half an alpaca & some Jacob fleece that need to be washed. :)

on Feb 7, 2012 4:51 PM

Great 'how to' article.  I have two alpaca fleece  and Unicorn Fibre products are just what I need.

Interweave and Knitty Dail are the best.!

NancyN39 wrote
on Feb 7, 2012 4:28 PM

I am feeling faint thinking about all the wool I have washed with dish detergent.  Never again!

JDThomas1974 wrote
on Feb 7, 2012 4:19 PM

I'm currently knitting an alpaca/silk/wool blend shawl that I would LOVE to keep looking new! Thanks for a fabulous giveaway & Happy Anniversary!!!

Anonymous@2 wrote
on Feb 7, 2012 2:54 PM

I was gifted a gorgeous alpaca/wool blend shawl and have been wearing it very sparingly so as to delay having to clean it. I'd love to win these products so I can take gave of this fabulous gift with the same love that the knitter showed in creating it.

TracyG@11 wrote
on Feb 7, 2012 2:29 PM

I have a Romney fleece, a Corriedale cross, and a small bag of alpaca waiting to be washed. Thanks for the great giveaway!

KYfarmgirl wrote
on Feb 7, 2012 1:54 PM

I have two shetland x corriedale fleeces to clean up.  It's been waiting too long and I really need to do it.  This would help so much!

on Feb 7, 2012 11:26 AM

I have a cormo fleece that I have been waiting to wash because of time and because it is so beautiful.  My hubby is very anxious to see how it turns out!  I would love to win this for this fleece!

emi.lipe wrote
on Feb 7, 2012 11:22 AM

Happy Anniversary!  I have a bag of wool that i'd love to tidy up and a sweater from my great grandmother that i've been too nervous to wash.  Nice to read the article and see that it is a do'able thing.

shumke wrote
on Feb 7, 2012 11:01 AM

I have a third of a Saxon Merino that I have been holding off washing that would really benefit from some Unicorn love!!!

WordLily wrote
on Feb 7, 2012 10:48 AM

I've heard such great things about Power Scour and the other Unicorn products; I'd love to try them!

Marcia Ells wrote
on Feb 7, 2012 10:47 AM

I'm getting ready to process raw alpaca fleece.  This article found me at the perfect time.  Thanks!

bennettdeb wrote
on Feb 7, 2012 10:46 AM

Happy anniversary! So far I've only knitted scarves which have needed no blocking, but my next project is a shawl made out of home spun, hand dyed local fleece which requires - ta ta ta dum - heavy blocking! It also is a lace work pattern, so I'd better get this right! Nothing like a challenge! I really would like to try the Unicorn products to make the most of my project. Thank you!

on Feb 7, 2012 10:10 AM

Happy happy happy anniversary!

KathyS@105 wrote
on Feb 7, 2012 9:07 AM

I guess that I've never had a mishap when I was cleaning a project before blocking.  I am currently blocking a lace blanket with nups.  It turned out to be twice as wide after washing and blocking.  It looks great!  A local mill which I visited uses Tide and hot water to wash their fleeces!

dkegelmeyer wrote
on Feb 6, 2012 5:27 PM

This post was so helpful, I had never thought about soaps and dissolving the proteins in the wool. Would love to try these products.

Flo_over wrote
on Feb 6, 2012 12:41 PM

With all the little wool toys I made my kiddo I want to keep them nice for her children... someday.  In the faaaar future.  Plus she loves unicorns!

on Feb 6, 2012 10:53 AM

I've read great things about Unicorn Fibre Products and would love to try them.  I use cleaning products to give a bath for blocking and to see the fibers "bloom".  Thank you for the giveaway.

on Feb 6, 2012 10:21 AM

I would like to win this to give to a good friend who has just taken up spinning.  She has some alpaca fiber that a friend gave her from their alpacas.  I know she will need to wash it before she spins it.

EMNemastil wrote
on Feb 6, 2012 9:15 AM

I'm working on my first sweater, I'd like to keep it as nice as possible!