After shearing day, the fleeces make their way to the mill to be spun into yarn. Here’s a quick photo tutorial on washing yarn (can be for any yarn, not just freshly milled yarn).
You can also wash wool sweaters or accessories this way also…the steps are all the same. I like to try and give my sweaters a bath once a year and do it as per below.
Yarn is out and in the skein.
Unroll each skein so that it is open and ready to be tossed into the sink.
I like to use the utility sink to wash yarn. Fill the tub so that all the yarn will be submerged in the water…but don’t add the yarn yet!
If you add the yarn and then run water into the sink, you risk the yarn becoming felted due to agitation.
Run the water warm/hot into the sink with it empty. Add about a tablespoon or a squirt of Unicorn Fibre Rinse and swish it around in the water to mix.
Once the water is off and the tub is filled, you can gently submerge your yarn. Slowly push the yarn down into the sink so that it all becomes wet and nothing is floating dry to the top.
Do not swish the yarn!
After it is all submerged, resist the temptation to touch the yarn. Walk away…put in some laundry, make a snack, knit a few rows. I usually let mine sit for at least 15 minutes up to many hours…just depends on when I get back to it.
Now it’s been at least 15 minutes…maybe longer. Time to let the water out of the tub. Once the water is drained, pull each skein out and gently squeeze your way down the skein to get the water out. Resist the urge to twist and agitate it…remember, you don’t want to felt your yarn!
I like to lay a clean towel down on the floor. As each skein is gently squeezed of excess water, I lay it onto the towel. I can usually fit several skein on each towel.
Roll the towel up so that the skeins are on the inside of the towel.
Walk back and forth on the towel, squeezing and squishing the rest of the water out of the skeins that are in the towel. I like to walk back and forth a few times, roll it a quarter turn and repeat. The key here is to get out as much water as possible and allow the skeins to dry more quickly.
Once you’re stomped your heart out, you are ready for a quick snap. I take each skein, loop it around my arms and then tug pulling my arms apart causing the yarn to pull tight on my arms until I hear a snap. I do this a few times for each skein. This snapping helps to set the twist and straighten the yarn.
Drying time! I drape each skein…sometimes outside on the deck railing if weather allows or our guest room shower (because why not?!)
Often I’ll put a fan on the skeins if they’re drying inside or at the end to get the sections that have the most water left in them.
The skein on the left has been washed and dried. The skein on the right is fresh from the mill. You can see how washing brought the fiber to life – it’s springier, softer, and has less lanolin and grease from the mill.
The skein has also popped into it’s springy shape…the left is now shorter than the right…but only in illusion. The yardage has stayed the same, the yarn is now stretchier…think of it like a rubber band.
The washing has already been done for you….