Summer weather is here and the warmth feels good. The garden is flourishing and I need to keep up with daily watering. Thank goodness we saved the rain water in a barrel from all those rainy days back in the Spring but it is nearly used up. The carrots look as if they might be worth eating soon and the broccoli spears look like leggy cabbage! They were planted a little late so I don’t hold out much for them – we shall see.
I have been washing sheep fleece which is quite time consuming and labour intensive. I purchased two Romney fleeces and have managed to wash and dry them, thanks to the warmer weather. I washed them in an old bath tub set up in the garden. I fill the tub with hot water, add the soap but don’t make any bubbles then add the fleece and gently squish it down under the water making sure not to move it around too much so it doesn’t felt! I found using a toilet plunger works quite well and keeps my hands out of the stinky water! After letting it soak for a couple of hours with the occasional plunge I lift out the fleece and let it drain on a rack; I use an old old baby crib side. Apparently sheep fleece water is good for the roses! When the fleece has stopped dripping, I fill the bath tub with clean hot water and rinse, using the toilet plunger to move the fleece gently in the water. After several rinses until the water comes clean, I spin it in my washing machine.
Drying the fleece in the shade is now all that is required. According to the books I have read, drying a fleece in the full sun makes it brittle as the natural oils have been removed by the washing process. I have plenty of shade in my garden but it did take longer to dry than I thought it would.
Now I am using my Patrick Green Picker. This looks like a medieval torture device with some very evil-looking nails with lots of sharp pointy parts. The picker does what it says, it picks the fleece apart, gets rid of the debris and makes the fleece more fluffy. The next stage is to spin the fleece. A friend has lent me her spinning wheel and I hope to learn how to use it very soon.
It all feels very ‘back to the land’ in a good way. I have a couple of books that I have found useful; “The Weaving, Spinning and Dyeing Book” by Rachel Brown and “Knit to Spin” by Shannon Okey.
All this has kept me busy during the first weeks of summer, combining it with work and family commitments. I hope to enjoy more sunny days outside in the company of friends including a few days at the beach.
I hope you are having a good summer as well, doing whatever you enjoy.