Wool-A Make Over Story

**Note to reader…this is an epic blog post….get a cup of coffee…then come back**

As you all know, I have have deep love affair with wool.  But with all love affairs, I realize there are parts of wool that I truly love…and parts I now know I have no desire to have darken my door step.

The number one thing I have no desire to do, is wash and process raw wool.

Why you ask? As a wool luvvah shouldn’t I want to know and become ingrained in the WHOLE process…from beginning to end? Shouldn’t I want a relationship with the dear sheep that suddenly felt a distinct chill one day when the previous day it was wooly and warm?

Well, once upon a time, yes I did.  I did want all of that and more.

And then the entire process was laid before me and I was like ‘um, no’. And for no other reason than ‘who the he** has time for this’?

Will I take the time to hand dye, spin and knit up my woolens? By god yes (and I realize that many of you out there think I and others are bonkers for doing this) but that is the part of the process that I truly love. The science of the dying….the hypnotic nature of spinning….the thrill of the perfect pattern…the accomplishment of the final product….

So now that you know what I love and what I loath….here is where the real story begins.

So I travel out on the weekend to my favorite fiber shop. The owner has been my spinning mentor and was my instructor this past winter.  We have gradually formed a friendship and I enjoy driving out to gab with her.  Our conversations wax and wane over many many topics and it isn’t unheard of for me to spend a few hours. This particular day I asked her to go through the classes at an upcoming festival and see if she knew any of the instructors.  This proceeded to curve into ‘oh, if you are going to be there on Saturday….why don’t you come and demonstrate some dying techniques to this group I am leading. In fact, let me give you some of my sheep’s fiber for you to practice and play with, then you can tell me if you are interested.’

Interested?  You just told me you are giving me free fiber and you want me to talk to people about my new found favorite thing in the world to do.  Where do I sign up?

‘Great’, she says.  Here is bag of the fiber.  ‘Oh, sorry it isn’t washed or cleaned so you will have to do that…then you can dye it up.’

<Insert your choice of bad word right here as I said them all in my head…>

OK, here is what I realized as I was driving back home with a bag of filthy wool in my car.

What I really detest most about this process is…………………..


Holy he** I thought a sheep curled up and died in my car…

I mean , I come from WI where most of the time you are driving in the country and the various animal aromas that you encounter along the way are part of the charm….you kinda get used to it and even look forward to it. I have a friend with sheep and I pet them and have never ever ever encountered a smell like this before….

But this….this was soooooo much worse.

I got home and immediately got some water going on the stove as I knew that I needed it hot to cut through everything.

Then I put the fiber in and moved it outside. I took one look at the festering groddy water and texted the proprietor of said shop and said ‘Um, should I put some soap in the water?’

She responded back ‘on washings 1 &2, no…but on washings 3, 4 and 5…YES!’

Did she just say 5 washings??

Next up on my list of things I don’t like….5 washings!!

Then she replied “Smells bad doesn’t it?” (Ok, so at least I’m  not the only one)

Here is what it looked like on washing number 1.

I mean…Ew!

It is like you walked into a barn filled with sheep that had some sort of intestinal disorder…

…and you said…let’s bottle this smell and make tea

washing numero uno
washing numero uno

Washing 2 was more of the same

Washing 3, 4 and 5 at least there was the sweet scent of Dawn hanging in the air…..

And the water didn’t look like it needed a contaminated warning.

photoThen I laid the <MUCH CLEANER> locks out to dry

photo 5It took me 4 days to get to this step…but I am finally here and get to have some FUN dying these blankety blank locks!

Stay tuned for the exciting finale…which will be titled “Having fun dying blankety blank locks!”



2 thoughts on “Wool-A Make Over Story

  1. Dear if you were a farm girl (like me) you would be holding your sides (like me) from laughing. All those farm animals smell, even chickens. You have only 4 but pick up one who lives with a large number of close friends and they do smell and it isn’t a good smell. I take it your washing the RAW wool is definitely going to be your once in a lifetime experience. After doing this your are going to appreciate your wool that much more.
    P.S. The next time you are by one of those cute cuddly loveable looking sheep put your nose in that wool and take a deep breath.

    1. I’ve seen Heather have plenty of appropriately appreciative moments with real live wool “on the hoof” or even right after shearing. It sounds like this particular wool exceeds the normal sheepish tolerances – maybe it was from a very mature ram and was coated in extra-heavy-duty musk.

      Hey Heather – this wasn’t sack wool, was it?
      Hee hee.

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