Friday, 19 August 2011

Looking happy while getting wet.

As all the long-term readers of this blog know (because I’ve written it repeatedly), I am naturally lazy. I am also aware of efficient working procedures and non-efficient working procedures, even if it is not always in my power to change from the latter to the first.

Washing wool is a high-consumption activity: It needs obscene amounts of water, some work time and a huge lot of waiting time, especially for the wool to completely dry again so it can be put back into storage. It also needs some equipment to make wool washing sustainably efficient. Plus, the wool that still has its natural oils is a joy to work with, and wool that has been scoured heavily or washed with too much agitation is prone to felt, making the following processes harder and maybe even severely damaging overall fibre quality.

So my first impulse (and more or less my wish) is to leave the wool as it comes from the sheep, washing-wise, and start with the process of beating, combing and carding straight away. However, there’s dirty wool and there’s clean wool, and dirty wool is harder to work with in some circumstances. Much harder to work with. So much so that the investment of water, work time, wait time, and equipment seems to be an efficient investment again.

Currently, I’m testing the waters for wool-washing – checking how much time I need for a batch, how much water, what works better or not in my scale of material amounts, which might be roughly equivalent to the processing amounts of a very small medieval industry or a large household. And that, in turn, means I’m very happy that it is raining right now, and that I have just gladly ran out into the rain, getting wet while bucketing rain water from the container being refilled to an extra storage container. And will do so again in case it rains enough to fill the first container completely again.

And now I’ll dry off with a cup of coffee and some nice work.

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