Friday, June 19, 2009

Fleece, Freecycle and Freedom







The washing of the fleece took place in the last couple of days. After close perusal of various websites variously advising that you don't do it, that you do it only according to the rules laid down by the blogger in question, or that you just go ahead and try it.

I'm of the last school of thought, so I did just that. Took about one tenth of the amount of fleece I was gifted with, and proceeded to wash it, encased in a net curtain, since I didn't have the net sweater bags they recommend, and proceeded to see an incredible amount of mud come off it.

Actually, it smelled very benign, just like being in the country, except it was in my bathtub, and a lot of what I had originally thought was sheep dung turned out only to be harmless teasels and burrs and various stems of straw and heads of grain, actually very clean and interesting vegetable mattter. No probbo.

I realized that it was actually legal to discard the most hopeless looking bits, and did so once I got clued in. And had a wonderful time, washed the fleece bag (ended up added two more bags to my stash, so now I have Three Bags Full, heh) four separate times with detergent, then two rinses, all in hot water, which took a bit of waiting to get enough hot water going. Then daringly put the second sand third batches into the washing machine on a spin cycle to remove a lot of water from them.

The washing and rinsing reminded me strongly of washing a little kid at home after a camping trip -- rivers of mud and other mysterious stuff. But not at all unpleasant.

And now I have a little fluffy cloud, after hours and hours of work, and some carding, using animal slicker brushes and various wide toothed animal combs. I think this wool is pretty long staple, given the length I can tease it out to, which bodes well for spinning it, I am guessing. And it's some of the best fun I've had in a while. It still needs more done before it's spinnable, but what a treat this whole thing is.

Good thing I like it, because this one sack will probably take me all summer to process. I threw out the stuff I eliminated from it under the trees out back for nesting material for the local birds, who were very interested indeed.

The deal is that if you don't hold your mouth right when you do this stuff, the fleece will FELT, that four letter word dreaded of spinners...but as far as I can tell mine survived.

And I can quite see why people charge serious money for processing fleeces for spinners to avoid all these processes.

So I'm giving you part of a long dull series of pix I made of the process, sparing you the fine detail and just giving the um, big picture....from mud to fluff!

And then, while the rest of it is still drying -- this can take a while, and it's in an unused bathroom with the door firmly shut against marauding kitties who would love to sleep on nice dry fleece, that seemed to be a good time to see what I can recycle via Freecycle, to make room for the incoming material.

Freecycle, for them as don't know it, is a wonderful grassroots movement where stuff that is still good and usable but has outlived its welcome in your house can be given to other local people for whom it's useful. The idea is to keep material out of the landfill, particularly here in NJ where we have a large population and a small land area. I've given and received all kinds of great stuff via Freecycle.

So today, I posted on the Freecycle sites I use (this is a Yahoo deal) two big rolls of indoor outdoor carpeting which were surplus to requirements, as they say, and a huge piece of good denim which I will never ever use, despite good intentions. Within seconds of posting I had about six requests for each of them. The people will come and pick up (I leave stuff outside in a sheltered area) and everyone's happy.

Last week I freecycled a bunch of camera related items which again I will never use and it's just wrong to have them sitting in a drawer when someone else can use them.

And the other day I gave a huge bag of art materials, paper, crayons, cookie cutter things, all sorts of fun stuff good for kid summer entertainment. One slight snag arose here: I put it outside on the bench as usual, labeled Freecycle and the name of the taker.

Then while Andy's HHA (home health aide) was here for her shift I explained that someone was going to come while I was out to pick it up, not to worry, no need to take care of her, she knew what to do, etc.

C., the HHA, looked stricken and said, oh, that big bag, not garbage, then? nooooooooo. I explained no, it was labeled Freecycle. She'd never heard of freecycle, thought it was like popsicle or something, and rushed out to the dumpster to rescue the bag, from right on top, good thing, or it would have taken a stepladder for her to get it back....just before the garbage trucks arrived.....phew. Great hilarity all around. Afterwards. Very conscientious lady. If it looks like garbage, it gets taken to the dumpster.

1 comment:

dogonart said...

Interesting fleece progress.Know exactly what you mean about the smell...looking forward to seeing how the spinning goes. I've tried spinning (once) and have since been asked to visit and spin some more since the spinning wheel owner wanted some lumpy thread and she herself is so proficient now she can't make it lump the way a beginner does! She's an arteeest!