Skirting Rack

Yesterday the wool processor with whom I spoke stated that they used a 4″ x 4″ metal wire frame upon which they skirted their fleece.  He said that others used a 2″ x 2″ frame, but that those fleeces were not as good as theirs.  This morning I remembered a 2″ x2″ frame that had been given us many years ago and was in storage.  This will work perfectly set up on saw horses.  It measures 4′ x 4’…



Items With Which To Wash Bulk Wool



1 – hot water
2- steel stock tank w galvanized grating 2″ off bottom
3 – drain plugs
4 – propane heater
5 – skirting / drying racks (4 x 4 or 2 x 2 wire w 2×4 frame on saw horses)
6 – detergent (Norwex / some report Tide does just as well?)


Skirt wool on skirting racks.  Pull into small pieces.  Discard any felted/too dirty wool and shorts.  Wool will clean itself in doing so – this procedure is critical in that it makes it much easier to wash if cleaned well.

Water needs to be between 150 – 160F (65 – 70C).  Detergent needs to be added before adding the wool o that it does not form suds.  Add wool to water.  Gently press down.  Maintain temperature of water.  Water at top will cool.  Gently press wool down every 5 minutes (approx.) in order to circulate water (note: consider how to achieve this without agitation).  Do not agitate at all during washing / rinse.  Drain.  Repeat.

Wash twice; rinse twice.

Set on racks to dry.

Lanolin extraction:

Lanolin can be commercially extracted from wool at 70C.  I wonder if instead of using detergent the first time (i.e. use instead 160F/70C water alone) if the drained water can then be processed for lanolin extraction by boiling?  Detergent can then be used as outlined above: two wash cycles and two rinse cycles.

(*Note: The principles behind this procedure was outlined to me by a commercial wool processor from the region.  While discussing the particulars of my own life here, it was thought that the above outline would work well.  I have not yet tried this, but hope to do so within a week or two.)

Unloaded Wool…What Next?

Ever since last Tuesday my life in this solitary place has been a whirlwind.  I live here because of the sweetness that I experience in nature on every side here.  Sometimes that gets shattered – like a friend of mine who looked out of her house recently to see young men on snowmobiles purposefully running over threes that she had planted as an attempt to restore a field on her property back into woods.  But the whirlwind that I name in this post today is not negative at all, but just one where things unfolded all too quickly over the past five days and from which I am only now catching my breath.  Again, as on the day that I was given my wool…


…so over the next several days my truck needed immediate (emergency) use.  So after unloading the bags of wool…

…Merino wool…

…I was (barely) able to pull the rest of the wool off of the truck bed by heaving on the tarp…


…it was covered and that’s where it has lain for the past several days as I now start to think through how to wash and then store it in bulk?  …and where?


I am thinking that perhaps a metal watering trough would make a great wash basin that will allow me to process large lots at a time. More wool will be forthcoming this summer.  And I have had a volunteer say that they will come and help…and so I’m thinking that if help arrives that I can offer to supply them with washed, mordanted, haskap-dyed wool as a thank you?  It would be nice… :)