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Sunday, December 11, 2011

From This to That

Have you ever wondered what happens to the wool once it's off the sheep?  I know I did.  Well, wonder no more, because the mystery is about to be solved!  See this luscious, scrumptious, soft, but dirty fleece above?  I'm about to turn it into fluff!  First step, as I discovered much to my chagrin, is to pull of all the really poopy bits.  Yeah, you read that right.  Luckily, I am well acquainted with poop, having been the momma to dogs, hamsters, fish, cats, horses, and two human children.  A little dried up lamby poop ain't nothin' after that.  Once the really dirty bits are gone, I put the fleece into some small sweater bags.  Fill the tub with super hot water, including some boiling from the stove, a cup of Dawn dish detergent and soak. 

Once the wool has been soaked and rinsed, soaked and rinsed, soaked and rinsed, until your back is achin' and your arms are ready to fall off, put in on a rack to dry.  I used a piece of netting stretched and clamped onto some large empty plastic storage containers.
It takes a mighty long time for wool to dry.  Much longer than I thought.  During those days the wool must be checked and turned daily.  Once the wool is dry, I store it in an old pillowcase so it can breathe.  Yes, I know it's not technically alive, but it still must have access to the air!
Next step is carding.  I bought myself some wonderful hand cards for my birthday, and it's a good sitting down workout to take the washed wool and comb it into oh so soft fluffy mini batts.

Wala!  But alas, we are not done yet.  Many such mini batts must be carded.

Once I've carded enough to fill a scrapbooking box, (apparently JoAnn's does not sell "icelandic lambswool mini-batts" boxes) I then needle felt a rectangular flat bit, which is decorated with some of this incredibly soft merino roving that I picked up from New England Felting Supply.

Now we are finally getting to the "that" part.  I take the loosely needled and decorated wool fabric and wrap it tightly around a lovely, sweet smelling bar of natural soap.  To this I add some very hot water and a lot of elbow grease to magically transform the raw icelandic lambswool into:
Wooly Soap!!!!!  Hurray! 
A luxurious bar of soft lambswool wrapped soap.  The wool will continue to shrink as the soap is used up, all the while providing a soft natural exfoliation that cannot be found with a cotton terrycloth washcloth.  That's it this week from Woolydom!  Have a wonderful 7 days.

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