Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Loss of focus

It only takes a second of not paying attention to create complete disasters at the worst, or hours of work at the best, when you wash wool.

I wash my fleeces and my yarn in my home washing machine. I load the machine, add a little Dawn detergent, and then turn it on, keeping the lid open so that the machine doesn't agitate. When the tub is full, I set the timer for half an hour. Then I turn the dial to spin and the water empties. I repeat until the water in the machine is clear. It works well for both fleeces and yarn, as long as I pay attention to what I'm doing.(For the awful possibilities, see the directions for felting a wreath in the chapter on washing wool in my book  From Sheep to Shawl)

Yesterday, I wasn't paying attention. I put four skeins of intricately variegated yarn, each the result of over half an hour of painting the wool and another half hour of simmering , into the machine, closed the lid, turned the machine on and walked away.

Several minutes later, I heard the machine agitating. I rushed to the laundry room and opened the lid. The yarns were tangled, a little puffier than normal, but not felted. Felted would be an irreversible disaster.

Relieved, I moved the dial on the machine to spin and closed the lid. The water rushed out of the machine without agitation. I filled the machine again, standing in front of it until the tub was full. Then I moved the dial to spin and closed the lid.

The yarn came out of the rinse in four impressive tangles. Grandma Alice and I spent over four hours untangling each skein and rolling it into a ball. If we hadn't put so much effort into dyeing the yarn, I would have been tempted to give it to BC, the barn cat, for a nest. As it is, Grandma Alice will crochet the skeins  into a beautiful, variegated baby blanket for some future great grandchild. And I will remember, for awhile at least, to always focus when I'm washing wool.