Kim's Blog

Archive for Scouring

….this is why I scour!

Water after scouring “clean” yarn.

If I did not scour the yarn, the spinning oils might interfere with how the dye adheres to the yarn. Cheers all!

Question #1 – Why does my fleece still feel tacky after scouring?

Beautifully scoured Bluefaced Leicester Fleece.

One cause of tacky fleece can be poor scouring technique.

What to do if your fleece feels tacky and does not draft well after scouring:

Before a full on re-scouring of the whole fleece, see if it can be salvaged with a bit of oil. Rub a small amount of olive or 100% Neatsfoot oil on your hands and work it into about 10 grams of fleece. Give your hands a wash and then wrap the fibre in a tea towel and allow it to rest for 30 minutes before spinning. If drafting has improved, great! Treat enough fibre for one spinning session with the oil until you have all your fleece spun. Be sure you to wash the oiled handspun in a timely manner (one to two months after spinning.).

If drafting has not improved, then I am afraid a second scouring is required.



Water Temperature: If dealing with a fleece you have not worked with before, conduct a few 10 gram sample scourings. Try 120°F, 140°F, 160°F and 180°F. Choose the water temperature that results in the nicest hand without feeling tacky.

Neutral pH Soap: The soaps I have had the best success with are Blue Dawn Liquid Soap, Castille Soap and Orvus Paste. A fleece that has next to no grease at all gets a Castille Soap scour, fleece with more grease gets Blue Dawn and I use Orvus for very greasy fleeces. Avoid suds by filling your scouring container with water, adding the soap and giving it a gentle stir. Other cleaning agents I have used with good success include Eucolan and Unicorn Power Scour.

How much Soap: I go by feel I am afraid. When the water feels slick when rubbed between my fingers, I know I have added enough soap.

Fleece Transfer: Grease is attracted back to the fibre as the water cools. Once the scouring soap bath reaches 120°F, I transfer the fibre to a 120°F clear rinse. To transfer the fibre I gently squeeze the fleece while it is still under water. Lift it from the bath, while continuing to keep the fibre under light pressure, and place it into the clear rinse bath. If there are still suds in the water, one or two more clear rinses may be required. I leave the fibre in the last bath until the water is completely cool. Once the clear rinse bath has cooled, I gently squeeze the fleece (while it is still under water), remove it from the rinse water and place it upon a few layers of nice, thick cotton towels. I cover the fleece with tea towels and leave it be for 3 hours. After the time is up the cotton towels will have wicked up the excess moisture from the fleece which can then be transferred to a sweater rack to finish drying.

Hope this proves helpful. Cheers, Kim

Question #1

Why does my freshly washed fleece still feel tacky?

More often than not a freshly scoured fleece that feels tacky is the result of:

Polworth Fleece. Scoured and ready to comb.

  • Water being too cool to remove all the grease.
  • Not using enough of a neutral pH soap.
  • The soap you are using is not very effective on grease removal.
  • The fleece has been allowed to cool down in water that still contains some grease.

When scouring remember different fleeces contain different amounts of “grease” and they cannot all be scoured the same way. What works with one breed may not work with another. It is best to sample before embarking on scouring a whole fleece.

I will post some thoughts/answers to the above bulleted points in my next post.

Until then, take good care and happy spinning.

Cheers, Kim