In other words, how we get this:
But first, a word about the wool. Early last year I decided that I wanted locally sourced wool to stuff my toys with. I really wanted to get my hands dirty (little did I know...ha!). My ancestors hail from Scotland, and I feel close to them when I start from the bottom up, so to speak. I oftentimes find myself wondering how they did something, and who taught who (whom?) to sew.
I found an amazing sheep farm in northern Virginia called Touchstone Farms. They were the first certified humane sheep farm in the United States, and raise Clun Forest sheep. I met with Alan, (here he is!) and told him what I was looking for. He hooked me up with a LOT of wool. The catch was that it needed to be cleaned.
So my husband put the bags of wool into the back of his truck and we headed for home.
Here is how I wash my wool and prepare it to stuff toys with.
The first look. Super dirty!
I lay a big sheet on my deck and dump some wool onto it.
Then I start picking through it. The skirts (the REALLY dirty parts, the bits near the back end of the sheep and near the belly of the sheep) go in a bucket for compost.
I get as much grass, hay, and anything else that doesn't belong there out of it. Now it's ready for the wash!
You can pick up these laundry mesh bags at any of your local big-box places, like Target, Bed Bath and Beyond or Walmart. Each bag will hold about 1/4 pound of dirty wool. You don't want to cram it in there, just lightly stuff the bags.
Fill your washing machine with the hottest water you can. Add a glug or two of Dawn and gently add your wool. Squish it down in there.
See how gross the water is? Mmmm! I generally let it sit in the water for 2 hours or so. DO NOT LET YOUR MACHINE AGITATE. I leave my lid up on the washing machine with several signs hanging around the laundry room saying NOT to touch the washing machine.
Take the bag of wool out of the washer, and refill it with super hot water again. Then add your bag back in (no Dawn this time). I rinse at least 2 times, more if it needs it.
It is done when the water is clean and there aren't any suds. You can let it spin out at this point. We don't have a clothesline, so I spread mine out on a clean sheet in the yard to dry. I also make great use of my son's Tonka trucks this way.
Now it is ready to card, but that is another blog post.