Okay, this one really scared me.
The directions went like this: Plunge the wool into hot soapy water and then pound it with a plunger.
This followed by, then plunge the skein into cold water to rinse it and then back into hot water again.
Then plunge it into cold water again.
Then take the skein and wring it in the washer (or wrap in a towel and squeeze the water out).
Finally, take your skein and SMACK it against a countertop!!!
Whack it on purpose I thought? The answer: YES!!!
And then hang your skein to dry.
These were instructions for the roving that I had just finished spinning for hours and hours so that I could felt it--I mean full it--on purpose.
I can't tell you how hard it was to obey these instructions. It just went against the grain and everything I'd been told.
With my wool, fresh off the sheep, I soaked the fleece and then carefully washed it, being sure to never run water over the fibre or to agitate the wool--all so I wouldn't felt it.
And now I'm being given directions to do exactly that!
If you're looking for a really good book on spinning, you might want to consider Judith MacKenzie-McCuin's new book, "The Intentional Spinner".
This is where she gives all the directions on how to work with the most popular fibres for spinning, as well as some of the more unusual and expensive fibres.
Her advice for the after spinning care for worsted spun sheep's wool and alpaca yarn is to 'full' it by following the above process.
Why? Because when the yarn is first spun the fibres are tightly packed and the yarn isn't very soft. Fulling relaxes the fibres and brings the fluffiness and softness back into the fibre. And, believe it or not, the fulling process actually makes the fibre stronger because it becomes more cohesive.
Notice from the photo the outside edges of this fulled ball of yarn how the soft fluffy fibres are standing out? That's what makes the yarn feel nicer on the skin.
I was really concerned about doing this fulling thing. I'd invested a lot of time and money on my fibre and I was worried that the skein would felt itself into a solid mushy mash once I took a plunger to it.
But I trusted the author's advice and decided that I would go ahead and follow it despite my misgivings.
And guess what? It didn't wreck my yarn.
In fact it did exactly what the author said it'd do and that is soften the yarn and make it more touchable.
And it didn't make the skein stick together in a mushy mess.
I am also happy to announce that I have now spun a 2 ply alpaca roving at 20 WPI.
I've worked hard on slowing myself down and trying to make a finer yarn and it looks like I'm getting there one bobbin at a time.
My plans for this alpaca yarn, is to make a shawl for my Mother.
At first I had plans to make the Highland Triangle Shawl as shown in the photo taken from the knitting book, Folk Shawls.
It's on Amazon at: http://www.amazon.ca/Folk-Shawls-Cheryl-Oberle/dp/1883010594/ref=tag_sty_mn_edpp_ttl)
Now that I feel I've got a finer yarn I'm thinking I might switch plans and try to knit this shawl from the book Knitted Lace from Estonia.
This is the best lace knitting book I've seen so far. It's on Amazon at: http://www.amazon.ca/Knitted-Lace-Estonia-Techniques-Traditions/dp/1596680539/ref=tag_sty_mn_edpp_ttl)
It probably won't knit up fast, and it will mean a lot of chart work--in other words, this shawl won't be a sleep-along while I knit.