Adventures with a Dirty Fleece -- Navajo Churro

A friend in Kansas has a brother in Brigham City, Utah that raises Navajo Churro sheep. He raises them just to raise them.  Seriously. I asked him and he said that. He doesn't eat nor use or sell their wool. He usually gives the fleece away to people that asked or throws them out. So lucky for me my mother-in-law learned all this and hooked us up. The children and I drove to Brigham to pick up the fleeces and I was totally unsure of how much to take. He was willing to give me all I wanted. I told him I had no idea how long a fleece would last me and I took two big ones saying that would probably last me until next year. He laughed and said it could last me 6 years. Our van smelled like a farm driving home.

I was excited about doing something with the fleece so after reading a tutorial online I put part of it in my bathtub in hot water. No skirting, no cold water wash to get rid of dirt, nothing. I know better now. That first part turned the tub a nasty, nasty color. I did that twice until the water was pretty clear and took it out. It completely fell apart. And parts got left behind clogging my drain. Now I know how to take the drain off and clean under it. So glad I'm not a plumber. Gross.

I dried the fleece outside, then headed to PetSmart to buy dog combs.  I purchased the straight metal comb after looking online at a tutorial because I normally spin worsted and that comb would give me a top or roving style preparation. Unfortunately in my attempts at washing the fleece all the lock structure was gone and it was really hard to comb it. Plus it was still really full of lanolin.

So on to Plan B. I did a lot more research online. I followed this tutorial from Spinderella. With the part that I had previously washed in the bathtub. Except that I put it into lingerie bags because as Joel was leaving for work that morning he said, "remember we only have one washing machine." I was afraid of the wool clogging the machine so I put it in the bags. The lanolin disappeared but not the dirt. I have gotten over that fear and another part of the fleece is currently in my machine bagless. We shall see...

I went back to PetSmart and bought the dog flicker brushes to create rolags and learn to spin woolen. From what I read online that seemed to be the best idea when no lock structure was present. Problem is that I have never touched a rolag nor spun woolen so now I am dealing with a fleece for the first time and learning how to spin again. The bottom photo is my first attempts. My yarn is very lumpy. Not sure if it is my spinning, my carding, or my cleaning. Too many variables.

So on to Plan C. I set up a "skirting table" with my children's shoe containers. I picked off as much vegetable matter as I could. I studied the locks and the entire fleece to try to better understand it, though I could not identify any parts of the animal on it. I took a part of the fleece and followed this tutorial yesterday for the cold washes. Part of my fleece is now in the washer. I'm hopeful. All week I've waived between excitement to frustration and back to excitement. It is an adventure. So far it hasn't cost me money, besides 20$ for the combs, just a lot of time. I figure even if this doesn't turn into usable yarn for me I won't be as scared of getting a fleece again.

I'll keep you posted.

Joining with Andrea and Linda.

Labels: ,