Here is a picture of her unwashed fleece that I was promised by her owner would come out quite white after washing and it did.
|Fleece Before Washing|
|Fleece in Mesh Bags|
I filled the washing machine with the hottest water on the largest capacity load to get the most water in the machine. I have a top loader machine. Then I added 1/3 cup Dawn (original blue - gentle enough to clean animals after an oil spill) dish detergent and stirred it around to dissolve in the hot water. I waited until the water had stopped filling to add the detergent to keep it from bubbling and frothing too much. Very carefully, I placed the 4 mesh bags around the central agitator and gently pressed it down with an old kitchen spoon so that it would wet all the fibers. I DID NOT ALLOW THE MACHINE TO AGITATE - EVER!!!!! If I had, I would have ended up with clumps of felted wool and ruined the whole fleece.
I left it to soak for about an hour. I drained and spun the mesh bags in the machine to squeeze out all the water and then removed them from the machine until I filled the tub again with hot water and Dawn for a second soak. I removed them while the water filled the tub because the action of the water falling on the fleece would felt it and the soap would not dissolve evenly with a full tub of fleece.
|Waiting for Rinse|
I soaked the fleece again in hot water and Dawn, spun out the water, and then removed the mesh bags from the machine. I filled the machine with plain warm water to rinse the mesh bags in, let them soak, spun out the water and removed them from the machine. I did this one more time to really rinse off the soap and dirt so the fleece actually had 4 changes of water to wash and rinse them.
While they were spinning in the machine, I set up a drying area. Here I used an clean old screen door propped up on 4 colander bowls I got from the Dollar Store.
After 24 hours It was completely dry and it was beautifully soft and fluffy.
|Fluffy Alpaca Fleece|
I repeated the entire process to the rest of the fleece and laid it out on another screen door propped up on salad bowls I got from the Dollar Store. When it was dry, I took it all up to my studio where I will card it over the next couple of weeks and will show a photo of the tall pile of batting it will make when it is completely carded.
|Ready for Carding|
Then I will dye it and the finished result will be similar to the previous alpaca fleece I dyed last year.
|Dyed Alpaca Fleece|