How I wash a fleece, part three

I don’t spin out the fleece in a washing machine to dry, and here’s why:

After much reading, I have decided NOT to spin out the fiber in the washing machine. Of course I have reasons, and of course, this question will result in a long monologue but you asked for it. Just remember that when your brain starts screaming.

  1. In order to spin out your fiber, you MUST be able to spin without your machine spitting water onto the fiber. Generally, this means you have to have a top loading machine. Test out the water thing by adding a dry tee shirt and spinning it “dry”. Stop after a minute or two and check the tee for any wet spots.  Keep checking during the spin cycle to make certain of this spitting tendency that some machines have.
  2. In order to spin out your fiber and not ruin your machine, you must put the fiber into lingerie bags. To qualify this caveat: in my house, in order to avoid the mere possibility of ruining the machine, lingerie bags were a necessity. I like to pick my battles, and I chose to avoid having this become a battle. That said– if you live in humidity or cold, this might be an important step for you. In which case– go for it. I chose not to tempt fate, and not to take a step that was unnecessary for my environment (hot and dry).
  3. Since I live in a dry, usually warm and sunny environment, fiber dries within one business day. I don’t need to spin it out. It’s an extra step, and I’m lazy, so I don’t.

Having slogged through all of this, the short answer….. I mainly dislike spinning out fiber because it gets compacted (not felted. compacted. different animal). It’s harder to comb or card. Drying it right out of the rinse pot is just as easy for me in my environment as stuffing lingerie bags and spinning and then drying on a rack. It’s really what I’m used to, and while the compacting of a fleece isn’t that big a deal (as opposed to compacting a roving or top) since a fleece will usually head for the drumcarder or flick carder or combs anyway, the machine adds another step that I don’t need to take. But you might, if you live somewhere that is damp enough that your fleece will grow moss before it dried without spinning it out first.

As for the question of whether a fleece should be hot or cold before going into the machine– it doesn’t matter, it won’t felt. There is no true agitation going on. It gets slammed up against the walls of the drum as it spins (centrifugal force or the reason you get nauseous at amusement parks) and stays there. Felting = you can’t pull the fibers apart. They are locked together for eternity. Compacted = what happens when you unbraid a roving/top and it’s all squished up. You can pull compacted fiber apart and spin merrily on…  As long as you aren’t agitating hot fiber and then dunking it into cold water… it’s a real challenge to get your fiber to felt.  And slamming your fiber up against the wall isn’t enough to felt it!  So…. if it won’t cause WW4 in your house, and you need that bump of mechanization to dry your fleece…. go for it!

1 Comment

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One response to “How I wash a fleece, part three

  1. i wash lots of stuff that needs special attention in pillow cases.

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