Tuesday, October 19, 2010

One half-ounce of failure

So after I took Blake's fleece to be washed and pin drafted, I decided it was high time to wash the pillowcase the fleece had been sitting in for approximately one year. Guess what fell out of the leg of my jeans as I was pulling them from the dryer in the laundromat?

Felted Locks

This, girls and boys, is how we do NOT treat lovely fleece. It was wrapped up in the pillowcase originally, which smelled fanTAStic (if you like sheepy smells), so it was in the hot load. Also, while not squeaky clean, the locks definitely encountered some laundry detergent because they don't have that lovely sheepy smell. Instead, they have that lovely fresh laundry smell. Finally, this heated and soaped-up bunch of locks must have worked their way from the comfort of the pillowcase into the agitation-machine that is the leg of my jeans while in the dryer.

Felted Locks

Shockingly enough, even after all the agitation, heat, and alkalinity (which stand for AHA, the three conditions you want to avoid while washing fleece for spinning purposes), the locks are not completely glued together. There's definitely lots of cohesion there, but some parts of the fleece did not stick together as readily as others. The cut ends look more solidy cemented, while the tips tend to still be free from lock to lock. So now I'm curious: can the "stickiness" of the scales on a single fiber of wool vary along the length of the fiber? It makes sense in my head, since the tips of the lock would have been more exposed to the elements (and perhaps "worn down" a bit more), but that might not have any basis in reality. Does anyone know if feltability varies this much in a single fleece?

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