I’ve been wanting to get started on a breed study for a while now but, well, I can be kinda lazy and easily sidetracked. So since discovering a mohair sample pack this week in my frenzy of reorganising my stash, I thought I’d make the most of the good weather to make a start on it.
The pack is from Cwmstwrdy Fibre Farm and I picked up one of their explorer packs at Wonder Wool Wales earlier this year. The pack contains 100g of first shear kid; 150g of second shear, 250g of young adult; and 250g of adult fleece.
I was immediately struck by how soft the first two samples were. Although Anogora are supposed to be quite greasy/waxy I didn’t think these samples seemed very greasy. Despite thinking they weren’t all that dirty, I was quite surprised at the amount of dirt that came out of the adult fleece in particular.
I’m not the best fleece processor. In fact a lot of my previous attempts have resulted in less than satisfactory results. I don’t think my cleaning or my scouring has been the best. Because these are samples it offered the perfect opportunity for trying washing on a small scale. I started with several cold washes using an eco washing up liquid because I didn’t have any scouring wash. I know detergents have mixed reviews in terms of how harsh they are and previously I have used wool wash, but since my previous results weren’t great I thought I’d try something else.
I’m always amazed when I read blogs/watch videos of other peoples crafting that they always seem to have the right tool for the job. And I don’t mean specifically purchased materials, but those bits and pieces they have to hand or picked up in a thrift store that are just perfect for the task at hand. This finally happened to me when I discovered two plastic containers missing lids and two unused plastic baskets in my recent sort out. For once they were perfect fit and they make excellent fleece washing tools! I don’t have to handle the fleece too much when I get it in and out of the bath.
So anyway, I started with the adult and the kid first shear and soaked them both in several changes of cold water until they were mostly clear. The kid was pretty clean to start with, but a lot of dirt came out of the adult fleece even though it didn’t look too bad. I then scoured the fleece in fairly hot water. I’ve seen suggestions of anywhere between 45°C and 70°C for scouring mohair. In the end I plumped for a mid-way point of around 55-60°C. After three or four changes of water, staying in for twenty minutes at a time to make sure any greasy deposits didn’t resettle, I lightly squeezed the fleece and laid them out on a towel to dry in the sun.
There are some small bits of vegetable matter, but they are the cleanest and non-greasiest fleeces I think I’ve ended up with so I’m pretty pleased with how they’ve turned out. The adult fleece is now almost as super soft as the kid. I’m hoping next weekend will be as sunny so that I can finish the other two samples.