Monthly Archives: July 2015

Washing Wool – The Virginia Way! – from ‘Ten Good Sheep’

Standard
shearing the sheep

shearing the sheep

This is a really amusingly written TUTORIAL which I will be adding to the i/sheet page and can also be found on my pinterest wool board.

Even if you don’t have your own sheep, or have raw fleece to wash, you should find yourself laughing as you read this!  It was written in 2013 and I found it on the Ten Good Sheep website.  They are in Virginia (USA).

One note about the washing machine she is using – its the old fashioned top loader – that can be stopped and started at any point along the cycle – please don’t use your modern front loader like this, altho some of them do have short cool wash cycles with optional low spin speeds, and you might get away with it.  On the other hand, if you WANT to felt the wool ……….smile!  PS:  See the comments section – some more info there!

 

The Prelude (in conversation form):Part One…“Huh, I wish the shearer would hurry up and get here.  It rained yesterday and the sheep are cleaner than they’ve been in weeks.”Part Two…(nine months later)“Huh, I’m glad we took those shearing classes.  Let’s wait until after the next rain and then shear them as soon as they’re dry so the wool will be cleaner.”Part Three…(nine months even later)“Huh, wait a minute…rain is nothing more than a lot of cold water…hmmmmm.”
Ok…so we were slow learners.
You’ll want some infrastructure for your wool washing career to run smoothly.
We’re serious about washing wool!
You will need:
A wool washing table.
Our original table used rabbit wire for the top (about 1/4″ wire mesh).  The new table uses rat wire (1/2 inch wire mesh).  We recommend rabbit wire and we’ll be replacing the top of this table.  Note the handy hook for your hose…you need a hose too.  (Or if you’re really green and have a way to do it, collect rainwater.)
Also – note the concrete blocks used with the original table for wash stands.
If you’re going to wash a lot of wool, use these.  You’ll thank us later.Set your table up where a lot of water hitting the ground won’t matter.  Or…re-use the water for your garden, etc.  It’s yucky, but the plants won’t mind.  Depending on when you schedule your shearing you can use less water.
Let the rain do the first washing.
And you’ll need:
A wash tub (relatively heavy duty plastic – it’ll be holding a lot of water).And a dirty fleece.
This one is natural charcoal colored Romney.  Wait til you see it when we’re done.  Gorgeous!
And you’ll need:
Uh…gloves.  You need rubber gloves.  And maybe just a bit of white wine.
Ok…let’s get down to business.
Fill your wash tub about 2/3 full of cold water from your hose.The wooden board is under our tub because we don’t have the concrete block wash stands set up in the middle of the back yard.
As your wash tub is filling, unroll your fleece and take a good look.  If your fleece has not been skirted, do it now.  Tear away any belly, neck, britch and generally yucky stuff.  Don’t throw this away though.  Use it for long lasting weed barrier under mulch.Use the washing table as a trampoline for your remaining fleece.
All kinds of stuff will bounce out of there and through the wire while the fleece is still dry.  Give it a good hard couple of throws on the top of the table.
Depending on the size of your fleece, divide it into manageable sections.
We separated this one into 2 pieces.
Some of our own sheep have enormous fleeces and we divide them into thirds.  You can wash a substantial amount at one time, but don’t crowd it too much.  You’ll develop a feel for how much is a good amount.
Here is 1/2 of the sticky fleece (it’s been in storage for 2 years!).  It was well skirted before storage so everything is ok.  Don’t store unskirted fleeces.  You’ll be sorry.Into the cold water we go…
Push your wool down into the water gently until it’s saturated.
You can walk away from it for a while if you want to.  10 minutes or 10 hours…we’ve done both.
See?  Look at all of that dirt floating its way out of the fleece.
Now we’re going to work the wool.
Don’t be afraid to move it around…but you don’t need to be too aggressive about it either.
We want to let the wool swish through the water…so grasp it and bring it up…
and down.  You only need to do it a few times and very gently.
When the water is fully saturated with sheep dirt…
SWOOSH!
You’ll be amazed at the difference in your fleece already.
As a side note:
If you see bubbles on the ground at this point it’s because the fleece is holding sheep sweat
(aka – suint) and lanolin.  Since a lot of this is water soluble, combined with water this makes
(sort of, kind of) its own natural soap.  Hence the bubbles.  Sheep bubbles!
Gather it up…
and squeeze…then squeeze again.

ROUND 2
You can already see quite an improvement in your fleece, can’t you?Refill your wash tub and get ready for more of the same exercise.Let your fleece drape back into the water…no need to bunch it.Let it float for a bit and then a little more up, down, up, down.
Let the water swish through the fleece.There is a difference between allowing the wool to swish and agitating.  Don’t agitate…swish.
Notice the water…murky but not disgusting.  We’re making progress.
When you think that this round of water has done the best it can do…
SWOOSH!
And squeeze it like you really mean it.Now we have a fork in the road.  What did your second wash look like?  It could be enough.
But for this particular fleece we’re going for…
ROUND 3
If you’re doing another round, you know what to do by now.Refill your wash tub and lay in your squeezed out fleece.Let it sit…or not.  And then a little more up, down, up, down.  Light swishing gets the job done – and you don’t have to do it a lot.
Now, check out the clarity of the water still in the wash tub.  That works for us.Squeeze, squeeze, squeeze.Our work outside is done and this fleece is well on the road to being clean.  Let’s go inside…
Now that the majority of gross dirt is out of your fleece, it won’t hurt your washer to give it a hot soak.  Yes, the wool is still damp from squeezing out the cold water.
No, it won’t instantly felt in the hot water.
And you’re going to be turning OFF the washer so NO AGITATION will be happening.
Right?  RIGHT???  More on this soon.
We’re using Orvus Paste, which is a livestock soap used by 4H kids on their show animals.  You can get it/order it from farm and garden supply stores, or check online.  It’s concentrated.  It comes in the white container on the right, but the label is long since gone.  We use about 1/3 of a cup for a full washer of water.In the past we have used Dawn (dishwashing liquid).  Think about it…it’s a concentrated degreaser.  You can use Dawn if you’d like.  We’d use about 1/3 of a cup of that too if that’s the soap we were using.
With your fleece OUTSIDE of the washer in a bucket or other container…
fill ‘er up and make it HOT.
When the washer is full put your Orvus or Dawn in.  Let the water agitate for a few seconds to incorporate the soap throughout the water.  Putting the soap in before the washer is full will make for too many bubbles.  They’ll be harder to rinse out.THEN:PAY ATTENTION!
TURN THE WASHER OFF!
Seriously.In all of our years of fleece washing we have ruined only 1/3 of a fleece.  It was one of Shackle’s.  And the washer was only accidentally agitating for about 5 seconds.  Don’t do that!
Now that your washer’s water looks like this and
YOU HAVE MADE SURE THAT IT IS OFF…
Lay your damp fleece into the water…no need to bunch it up.
Doesn’t that look nice?
Now, since you’ve made sure that the washer is off, go ahead and shut the lid.
Relax for about a half hour or so.  That hot water will help to melt the remaining lanolin.
Now…with the washer still off, set it to the spin cycle.(Here’s where we have a small disclaimer.  Some spin cycles will throw cold water on the clothes from time to time for the first part of the cycle.  You DON’T want the washer to spray your wool with cold water!  Some washers don’t do this.  Our current wool washer – yes, we have one just for washing wool – doesn’t throw any cold water.  Our old washer did.  So here’s how we worked around that.  When you’re doing a load of laundry, camp out for the spin cycle.  Listen to your washer.  You’ll hear when – or if – it’s throwing water.  When we found where the spin cycle stopped the water throwing, we marked it with a small dot using a Sharpie pen.  Then we would always set the washer to the Sharpie pen dot instead of the beginning of the cycle.  Got it?)Go ahead and start your washer and let the water spin out.  It won’t hurt your wool because it isn’t agitating it.  When the cycle is done this is what you’ll see:
Ok, now depending on the breed of sheep that you’re working with, 1 wash may or may not be enough.  You’ll know.  It may need another soap session, or it may not.Either way…Take your fleece OUT of the washer and put it back in the bucket or whatever you were using to hold it.
DON’T LEAVE IT IN THE WASHER.Refill your washer with hot water.
Now you’ve got another fork in the road…
If you need another soap session, redo your previous steps…PAYING ATTENTION TO WHEN THE WASHER NEEDS TO BE ON OR OFF.If you don’t need another soap session your fleece is ready for the rinse water.  To our rinses we add about a cup or so of white vinegar.  This cuts the soap residue and restores the pH.  Also, we usually add in a bit of patchouli essential oil…or clove essential oil.  Yummy.  We can’t prove it but it’s our theory that the essential oil is somewhat of a natural moth repellent.  We have never had any moth problems to date.The rinse is identical in procedure to the wash – but without the soap.  Let it sit in the rinse water for a while with the lid down.  Then spin it out, just like before.When you’re all done, your wool washing table becomes your drying rack.  Take your wonderfully clean and soft fleece back outside, open it up onto the top of your washing table and let the air dry it perfectly.  Watch out for too brisk of a breeze…your wool will travel with it.

Ready for your reward?  You’ve worked hard for it…so enjoy!
Soft, fragrant (in a good way), lofty, ready to pick, card and spin.
And MUCH better than if a commercial woolen mill had done it for you.
We know…we’ve done it both ways.
So what’s next?
If you’re like us, you start all over again.
** One final disclaimer**
Our sheep are Romney/Columbia cross.  We know that this method works perfectly for our sheep and for similar breeds.  The finest fleece we have washed this way is Hog Island.  This is a rare breed sheep that was most notably from (wait for it) Hog Island.  This is one of the barrier islands off the coast of Virginia.  We have not washed merino, targhee, etc with this method.  Mostly because we have not had the opportunity to try it out.  This method *may not* be ideal for fine/super fine wool.  But being the wool renegades we are, we would at least give it a try on a small scale and make modifications if necessary.
It’s our guess that beginners who would benefit from this tutorial would not necessarily be using low micron count raw fleeces.  If you are a beginner using low micron count wool and you feel adventurous, try our method out on a small scale and let us know your findings.It’s our bet that the wool from any sheep benefits from being shorn after a good solid rain…so why not try?  The cleaner they are on the hoof, the less water you use after shearing.
Best of luck on your wool washing adventures!
Please do leave us a comment at mail@TenGoodSheep.com
…we’d appreciate your thoughts.

Why we need a women’s revolution in Somalia

Standard
Why we need a women’s revolution in Somalia

This post has nothing to do with crafts – but it has a lot to do with women, and is utterly shocking, especially to know that this is all happening in 2015 – you have been warned!

Thank you to Dr. Vanessa Lopez-Littleton (USA) whose blog I follow – she originally re-blogged this on Stirring Up Trouble on 14 July.

Media Diversified

‘At the “Vision 2016” National Conference in September 2013, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud committed to deliver a nationwide “one man, one vote” election by August 2016’

by Yasmin Maydhane

Today my uncle sold his youngest daughter – a 16 year old – to the highest bidder (yes, I mean quite literally sold – whereby the father is approached by the would-be-husband and they negotiate a price – you can still sell girls here), the highest bidder being of a political background, with strong connections to international NGOs and a member of parliament. It should also be mentioned, that my uncle works for the government as well.

Know that these two men, are educated, powerful, influential and dare I say, 21st century crooks and abusers, yet at the same time maintain the claim that they champion women’s rights.

The purchase of my cousin has brought shock, loathing and dismay –…

View original post 1,581 more words

About posting information about the BBC petition – some reactions I got!

Standard

whoops!As well as putting up information about the petition to “Save the BBC” – see my previous post – I also included the link to it in my latest newz from julz mailing to my customers.

I got some very odd reactions!  Whilst several of them replied to say they had either already added their names to the petition, and had done so as a result of seeing my post, I also got a long email from a customer, who was very upset that I had included mention of it in my mailing.

She wrote “Please remove me from your email list as you are using my personal data for a purpose other than in relation to our existing retail relationship i.e. to gather support for a non-retail related petition.

Whilst I appreciate your right to express your opinion, using my personal data to drum up support is, I think, in contravention of legislation designed to protect individuals’ privacy and to prevent unsolicited communication.  I agreed, by entering into our commercial relationship, to receive communication regarding your goods and services, not with regard to your personal or political views and beliefs.

With respect to our retail relationship you can, of course, choose not accept  my custom in the future.

I would be grateful if you could also ensure that you do not pass on my details to anyone else. If I have not explicitly stated this in the past, I am now updating my consent with regard to my personal information.”

I am obviously not naming her, I would never do that, but this is a genuine email, and I do feel that she deserves a reply.  I did write back, but have received no answer, and I expect that she has put my email address on  her junk list, so, in order to clear up a few misapprehensions that she and others may have, I am also publishing my reply.

“If you had looked at my blog, you would have seen that it is a general crafts blog AND my personal blog and as such I reserve the right to say what I like – smile.
 
Its very unusual for me to use it to promote something like this petition – I have used it once or twice for other specific issues that affect craftspeople, or myself personally – have a look at the ‘how ridiculous’ section if you can be bothered.
 
You obviously didn’t read the post – you might have seen the relevance, and anyone who lives in Britain must be aware of the fuss about the BBC at the moment.  There was no pressure to sign the petition, however, I have a lot of people from all over the world on my mailing list and they wouldn’t know about this, so I used the mailing list for that reason, and to update customers about the fact that I will not be closing my etsy shop/ebay listings over the summer and to inform them of my new email address too – smile.
 
The newz from julz mailings are normally about what new stock is in or special offers, and as such, it won’t matter if you don;t get them – its just a service for customers.
 
You obviously feel strongly about these issues – I missed a bit out on the bottom line this time – by accident – it is my solemn promise that I DO NOT SHARE MY MAILING LIST, NOR WILL I EVER USE ONE OF THE PAYING SERVICES, who then use the list for other purposes – because I feel exactly the way you do!”

I have no idea whether she is right about the ‘legal aspect’ that she mentions in the second  paragraph – does anyone know anything about this?  However, whilst she was the only one who wrote at such length, there was a spate of ‘REMOVES’ in my replies to this mailing!  So maybe others also object to my telling them about the petition?  I can’t help that, customers have a right to ask to be removed from the mailing list any time for any reason, and I always comply.  But I am surprised that I should get such a strong reaction.
 ?
What do you think about my inclusion of other issues in this blog or my newz from julz emails?
It would be interesting to know!
 ?
By the way, if you want to join the mailing list, you don’t have to buy anything, please see the form at the bottom of the SHOP TALK page.
 ?
And a big thank you to Roni in the USA who has taken up my theme about independent broadcasting and related it to the only independent network in the USA, which has to rely on open donations (PBS), on her blog “long live the BBC!”
?
(just to let you know that the spacing of this last section keeps moving, so I have had to add the “?” symbol just to separate the paragraphs!)

Help Save Our BBC – Please!

Standard

I signed this petition today,

Lord Reith, founder of the BBC (c) BBC; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Lord Reith, founder of the BBC, must be turning in his grave!
(c) BBC; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

and received this email asking me to pass it on – so this is my way of sharing it, and asking ANYONE AROUND THE WORLD who reads this, to consider signing it!  (you just have to register and click!)

Have a look at this:
https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/protect-our-bbc

Our BBC – Blue Peter, Doctor Who, BBC News, Strictly Come Dancing – is under serious attack from our government. Today, politicians are saying they want to scrap some of our favourite programmes, cut its funding and do away with the independent body that keeps it a truly public broadcaster.

The BBC has been a trusted voice in British homes for over 92 years. It’s vital we move fast and show David Cameron that hundreds of thousands of us are ready to rally around to protect our BBC.

Will you add your name to the petition to protect our BBC now? Just click the link and it’ll take less than 10 seconds.

Thanks

A Little Background Information for you ….

click on image for "BBC programme on FairIsle knitting"

click on image for “BBC programme on FairIsle knitting”

Regular readers of this blog will know that I often pass on something that has been broadcast by our much loved BBC – especially from Radio 4 – which occasionally has ‘specials’ on some aspect of a craft.

Well, as I ‘predicted’ in my post “Has Britain Gone Mad?”  – which I wrote about the election results in May (on “the spare”) – David Cameron et al are now beginning to show their true colours.

One of their policies, just revealed, is to strip the BBC of all their popularity & influence, because apparently they have a bias that doesn’t favour the Conservative Party, who are now trying to drag the BBC down into the mire, on the pretext that they are costing the tax payer too much money!

We pay for the BBC by buying an annual licence fee – which is admittedly an odd system for present times.  It is currently £145 a year per household, and is mandatory, and historically, you could even go to prison if you refused to pay it!  This system was set up eons ago, when the BBC was about the only broadcaster around and adverts that paid for the services hadn’t even been conceived!  (The BBC does not carry adverts even now, except for their own programmes.)

Even more oddly, the BBC is regulated very closely by whoever is in Government, under the Department of Culture, Media & Sports, and yet has always been able to stick to their tradition of total independence from political interference, in the proud tradition of its Founder, Lord REITH.

These days, many people don’t pay the licence fee, as they claim they watch it all online, and there is nothing that can be done about it!  Which does leave the original funding arrangements in a mess!  So some changes are needed and some proper discussion is called for – BUT NOT – the bully boy tactics of this current government.

They have just crossed the line by forcing the BBC to agree to pay for the policy of “free licences for the over 75’s” – which has always been part of the welfare budget.  This amounts to £750 MILLION! 

Now, I have always wondered why the BBC is so strapped for cash.  It broadcasts AROUND THE WORLD and has millions of followers who rely on their independence to give them the REAL NEWS, that their governments often try to keep from them.  Surely a voluntary subscription, or WORLD MEMBERSHIP CLUB, would bring in enough money for the BBC never to have to worry again?  I have posed this question to various people in the BBC several times, but, apparently, the WORLD SERVICE is partially funded by the Foreign Office, and as such, it cannot be charged for!!

Now if you really want to make some changes John Whittingdale, why not start there!

Don’t take my word for all this – if you want to find out more:

See The Guardian, 6/7/15 – BBC to take on £750m cost of subsidy for over-75s in licence fee deal

 This is the latest BBC Trailer – entitled “FOR ALL OF US

and if you want to look into this issue in a bit more detail,

this is the section of their website that covers some of the governance of the BBC

wikipedia also has a very good precis of the history of the BBC HERE

An article in The Guardian:

BBC Trust chair calls for public debate over future funding changes

and today’s Independent:

BBC set for shake up with new oversight board appointed as

talk emerges of changes to the licence fee

Shame on you Germany for treating Greece so badly

Standard

iuI am furious and so disappointed – “Grexit” (Greece’s exit from the EU) has been discussed in every detail in the news the last few weeks – and I have to say that the whole EU project has been shown in a very bad light – Germany has more or less forced Greece to kneel before it to be humiliated.

Sorry, but, apparently, when Germany was on its knees after the Second World War, Greece was one of the countries that forgave their debt, with the knowledge that a broken country would be dangerous, for those that live there and for those it owed money to.

I will say what everyone else has been thinking but is too careful to say – there is something in the German character that is dangerous, it was no aberration that they allowed the dictatorship of Hitler and went along with his mad and horrific policies.  We all thought that period was over, but its just re-surfaced.

I wish Greece had been able to leave and reinstate the Drachma, but I understand the tangle of issues that has made them try to stay.  I hope we can all support them in some way or another, but I see trouble ahead.

If this isn’t a warning to every other country in the Eurozone, I don’t know what is – Greece no longer even have independent access to the printers that could produce a new currency!

The best comment I heard about all this was on Radio 4’s “Now Show” – to paraphrase it – how can you expect those countries that don’t need to wear a jumper in winter to behave in the same way as those countries that need to wear several jumpers all year round!

Greece is not Germany – and they shouldn’t be forced into German mind sets and German economic strategies – they won’t work in a Mediterranean country!

We are expecting to be allowed to vote in a referendum here in the UK – sometime or another – whether we want to stay in the EU.  I for one have had enough of the petty standardisation and killing of individuality with thousands of mini laws!

So I will be voting to get out of the EU as soon as we can!

beware - tilting at windmills is not allowed in the EU - smile

beware – tilting at windmills is not allowed in the EU – smile

If any of you read my post on VAT MOSS in January, you might be interested to know that I have been writing to various MEP’s about this VAT MESS, which affects small craft businesses NOT EVEN IN THE EU – you might be interested to know that the whole issue is mired in so much petty procedure that nothing has been done!  

I am waiting for a bit more information before I publish an updated post about it – don’t hold your breath!

And yes, I do sometimes fight impossible fights, and tilt at windmills!  Feel free to skip this post if you are not political!

PS:  I wrote this in the early hours, and when I woke this morning, I find that the IMF (International Monetary Fund) has poured scorn on the deal, saying rightly, but far too late, that they do not believe that anything but a write off of the majority of the Greek debt would work, as this deal would NEVER enable them to get back into credit.

This announcement has been made on the day that the Greek Prime Minister is supposed to persuade his government to vote through the changes that the Germans demand IMMEDIATELY !  AND – the German government and other EU governments are meeting to ratify the ‘so called’ agreement!

If you’d like to read something completely different – I have put some more pictures of Tilly’s Miraculous Kittens up on “the spare” – you can see the new pictures here – smile.