Wednesday, July 15, 2009

All the Good Stuff

A couple of days ago, I had to write about a fluffy disaster and the terrible stench it created. But today, life is not so smelly and there is joy in Woolville. It took an arsenal of cleaning products to beat the stink into submission, I had to throw away some wool (always a difficult thing for me), and the bathroom sparkles like the sun. My hands and feet no longer waft pungent and I have moved on to other projects- Dying roving.
But I need to digress and get caught up on the good stuff of June. I got to go to Black Sheep Gathering (BSG) again. There were many things on the way, so it wasn't all about me, but it was good nonetheless. We met lovely people in San Jose, we laid Eduard's father to rest in a cool glen at Val's house and we found a nest of owls at the honey farm. Such good film footage, such nice people, such a pleasant week of travel.
At BSG, I got to work in the Wool Show, with the wool judge, Mark Eidman, I won first place on Max's socks, and bought 2 lovely fleeces. There were friends from So.Cal. and new friends from Ravelry, and lots of great things to buy- I did buy some, but I was careful not to over indulge. On the way back we had a great drive with Eduard's mom and Daughter. We were relaxed and happy, though it is a long drive. I was energized to get back into my wooly world even more than ever.
I have started dying again, not just for myself. I have several pounds of roving that needs a color coat and some packaging. I am hoping to get that out and sell it soon, so I have now completed about 14 packages of product. I am having a dye class in August and some of late July. And I am busy washing and dying fleece. Knitting, still doing that, but on a more "just for me" level. And knitting for Eduard, too. I want to focus on myself for a bit.
Yes that is what happens when I start having fun. I want to keep doing it. So you can find me in the kitchen- not cooking, not canning- but having a blast with the color blue.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Way Wrong or why modern invention is good

I have many things to talk about lately. I have been very busy and done many wonderful things in the last month. But what I am going to talk about first is something that was way wrong.
As you may have noticed, FLuffy has a wooly obsession lately. I have purchased fleeces which I wash and spin, then I dye the yarn and knit with it. So this last spring, I bought 4 lovely fleeces from Descanso, and then in Oregon I bought 2 more lovely fleeces. I have finished washing the Black Shetland and a portion of the Columbia. I have always done just a bit at a time until it was all done, using hot water and modern, chemical, hard water tolerant detergent- Orvus. It really works well on the fleece and the plants tolerate the surfactant well. I dump the water on the plants when I can. So this year, I got caught up in a line of bull and I am sorry to say, "It Stinks!"
The old books I have teach about using water and Urine (Yes I am talking about Pee), to clean wool fleece. There is a soaking process and a long rinsing process and then the wool is spun for weaving with some of the grease in and then it is soaked in acid, and finally washed in hot water to shrink it a bit. Gasp! Well, I don't do that stuff. I wash in hot water with strong detergent, rinse several times, dry, card or comb and spin for knitting yarn. It is grease free when I start to spin it. And it is washed again when it is yarn. There is no acid, the vegetable matter is hand picked and carded out. This is modern efficiency.
So this process that was being discussed on Ravelry, is about soaking a fleece for 7 days in soft water so that it ferments. It is called the Fermented Suint Method (FSM). I had all this lovely Columbia fleece (because there was 10 pounds of it) and I thought I would try some in this method. I discussed it with others who had done it first.
Soft water- got some. Dirty fleece- got that. Big opaque covered tub- yep. Time-7 days or less- I started. After 5 days it didn't look like any fermentation was going on, but it smelled awful- it was supposed to. At 7 days I had to take it out and rinse it. So today, I laid out some screens and started to rinse in cold water.
The first thing that went wrong was I got a couple of drops of the soak water on my arm and hand. I almost fainted from the awful smell as I lifted the fleece out into a bucket. A few drops got on my foot. Then I hauled it to the screen area and turned on the water to rinse it. I rinsed for a long time and the fleece was absolutely filthy, not to mention stinky, and still greasy.
So now it needed a hot water, soapy bath, just like it always had gotten before, but with the additional fragrance. I hauled a bucket full of stink into the bathroom with my Orvus. Yes into the house bathroom.
I decided to use the shower so that I could pump the water out to the trees. The stench was nearly overwhelming but I got the first two bags to soaking in the soap and hot water. I tried to wash off the little splashes.
I took a shower in the other bathroom. When I was done, I still smelled like an exploded porta-potty, so did the bathroom. The other bathroom with the soaking fleeces was a toxic waste zone.
I am now on the second washing of both the fleece and me- I will have to scrub the entire house with windex to kill the smell later- the smell permiates every room. (Honey, work late tonight).
Oh, it doesn't stop yet. There is still some fleece that needs to be hot water washed laying on the screens. There is a tub of offal next to the back door, and a layer of sludge in the shower. Of all the times I have washed fleece, I have never had such an awful, offal experience. Never, Never, Never will I do this again. It was a terrible practical joke and I am sorry that I got caught up in it.
After I clean the house, and recover my sense of smell, I will write about the good stuff that happened, but right now, I have made a mess and I am busy trying to clean up.