If I could buy a Wednesday

This Wednesday finds me chained to my desk, totally owning the giant hot mess of emails that are bearing down on me like a wildebeast.  It’s only a few days until I leave for Sock Camp, only a few months until Sock Summit, and were I to tell you of the number of emails and the amount of spreadsheets those events land on my desk, you would need reviving with a delicate skein of pale blue laceweight – but that problem is mine and not yours and you really come here for the wool, so let me tell you that if I could buy a Wednesday the way you can buy a vowel on Wheel of Fortune, then I would spend it being way farther along on my fleece washing than I am.

I started yesterday, filling the sink with hot water and dish soap (my fleece scour of choice – I’m horribly low tech) and lock washing a few bits of fleece here and there, mostly while I was on the phone doing businessey things.  (I labour under the delusion that while I was standing in front of the sink, carefully washing sheep shite out of fleece and discussing contracts, that it probably sounded like I was cleaning my house, which I wasn’t, and haven’t, but maybe a few people think I was, and that’s sort of good.)  I wash a few locks, rinse a few locks, and then pop them inside a folded tea towel and set them on a heat register to dry.

This is the first time I’ve tried drying fleece on the registers of a forced air furnace – until now I had a gravity furnace (which has no fan) and so I had to figure the tea towel trick pretty fast.  Until I did, I had wee puffs of wool flying through the air and off the register every time the heat came on- which is pretty frequent, since we’re having a big snow storm. (I don’t want to talk about that.)   This works better, results in fewer bits of sheep flotsam littering the house at random intervals – but is considerably less entertaining than locks of wool  pretending to be birds.

It is also, in case you were wondering, an innovative way to fill the house with a smell that makes it clear you’re into sheep.


114 thoughts on “If I could buy a Wednesday

  1. That’s a great idea for quick drying wool. I’ll have to try it with my knitted items. Good luck with everything.

  2. Snow in Toronto today? Not a flake here in Kingston. But I can top you for woolly smells—wet wool plus Kool-aid! We definitely wait for warm weather so we an open the windows before we take that on.

  3. That Fleece is lovely. I am looking forward to all of the spinning pictures of that!

  4. So is that smell “Odeur de laines” or “Odeur de Barnyard”. There’s a difference, you know. Beautiful fleece – but I’m resisting the spinning bug.

  5. Ah, the smell of wet wool! It reminds me of my kindergarten classroom and all the wet mittens drying on the radiators.
    Could be a lot worse — I wouldn’t necessarily want the innovative way to fill the house with a smell that lets people know you’re into swine.

  6. You know we knit socks in australia, you could come organise something down here if you needed a bit of a break from the cold.

  7. Wouldn’t it be okay to have the wool-based contract people overhear you doing wool-based cleaning activities?
    Or are they the Disbelievers?

  8. Yeah, we’re getting more snow here in Maine. Earlier this week I was under the delusion that my due-in-just-over-a-week baby would be born during nice spring weather. I was dreaming…
    Imagining bits of fluffy wool floating about the house made me smile. Actually, that could be kind of a fun party game for knitters. Like kids with a pinata, we could all be scrambling to pick up the most fiber!

  9. I put my blocked items, pinned to a board, on a rack in front of the pellet stove blower. Most things are dry in a few hours. It also works for wool diaper covers that need to be dried in a hurry, in case you were interested. I’m looking forward to seeing the yarn you spin from your Friend Jacob!

  10. I love that method of drying wool! I usually put a cookie cooling rack over the heat register so the air circulates around better. Best way ever to quick dry hats, mittens, and socks.

  11. Thank-you Stepanie, for the many times you have put a smile on my face. Thinking of wool tufts floating through the air…

  12. Drying wool through a towel releases more moisture into the house air, which is a good thing in winter (early spring), but doesn’t it add hours to the time? Would the wool dry too quickly and felt if you used a mesh washing bag? Our dollar-store sells large sized bags for 99c. Of course, if it felts….I guess I’m glad I don’t have the opportunity to ruin expensive wool (only expensive socks – hah!)

  13. I’d like to buy a Wednesday too, so I could go warp my loom, rather than sitting here doing my bosses busy work…

  14. Your sheep fleece makes me lonesome for the sheep we used to have when the boys were well, boys. Sheep are wonderful at teaching youngsters all about responsibility etc. They do tend to be a bit smelly though!

  15. is there a formula for how many registers can be covered by tea-towel-containing wet locks before the house temperature drops below habitable?

  16. I think the wafting wool fairies would bring a smile while they fly about, but if you have to confine them in a towel, you could try a few drops of lavender oil (on the towel), which is a natural deodoriser and would make the house smell wonderful.
    Jacob looks wonderful, can’t wait to see it all clean and colour amazing.

  17. Lovely lovely fleece. I feel your pain (at that pesky job thing trying to get in the way of fiber prep fun).
    Thanks for all your hard work on Sock Camp and Sock Summit! (Wishing I could take part and great fun for all who do.)
    And I thought you’d appreciate: down here in the mid-Atlantic region of the US, our weatherblog today mentioned the possibility of “conversational snow”.

  18. Lavender oil for a lilac Jacob — excellent suggestion (and very evocative of spring)!

  19. I really cannot wait to see this fleece spun up! I know it will be a while, but it’s going to be soooooo gorgeous!

  20. Small mesh lingere bags work well for fleece on top of heat registers. Better to be drying wool on the registers than smalls if someone drops by. And it doesn’t block the air flow in case you actually want the house to heat up.

  21. Sheep flotsam! Tee hee. I, too, know the smell of wet wool! Makes you wonder how sheep can stand themselves in wet weather!

  22. That sounds lovely. If I tried to do something similar with our radiators, I think I would have the dog and the cat both plotting and the cat viciously attacking my wool filled towels for the yarn hiding underneath!

  23. Snow? What snow? I just spent 45 minutes wovelling out the driveway. It’s usually fun to use a wovel (a snow shovel on a wheel thingie), but the snow’s too heavy and deep and it’s supposed to be spring.
    I’m going to sit down and knit some more of a sock tonight and think about your wool drying in tea towels on hot air registers. My house has a peculiar (to put it mildly) odour at the moment (I fear a mouse has died in the ceiling) so wet wool sounds like an improvement).

  24. Nothing like the smell of wet wool! It poured rain for our local St. Pat’s parade this year so pretty much all of downtown Yonkers smelled like your house right now.

  25. Our house had electric baseboard heat when it was built, and had a furnace added later… in the attic… all of our heat registers are on the ceiling!

  26. So, should I refrain from adding to the email onslaught to tell you it’s “wildebeest”? Cuz I totally won’t email you about that. Even though I think the proper spelling is very Seussian, and as such, makes me giggle.

  27. Eau de Mouton. Latest scent for wool lovers. I have three damp dogs here, Jason who is just above me. I could donate a couple! Yeah. They’re damp because their little legs just plowed through another six inches of snow…..

  28. Try sweater drying racks. They stack and are just far enough off the floor that the wool doesn’t go flying.

  29. Ooh, I like the mesh bag and lavender ideas! Plus, so glad the wool is inside and therefore safe from the squirrel. I wonder if a squirrel could extract wool from a mesh bag…..

  30. I too, do not want to talk about the snowstorm that has been kicking our butts all day here in the GTA. The ONLY good thing about it is that the bus drivers at my school started their routes early this afternoon, so some students went home early, and one particularly obnoxious darling who was supposed to be in my afternoon class went home on the bus. Oh, what a pleasant afternoon I had. I have never smelled a sheep, so I can’t imagine what they smell like, but I have smelled wet wool. I’m sure that sheep smell similar but much stronger?

  31. Yeah, the first thing I thought was a lingerie bag, too. It’d let the heat through better, and probably dry a lot faster.
    It was 82 (erm…28C) here in Oklahoma City the other day. The “convection oven” (a metaphor I’ve used many times, and thank you — it’s SO fitting) you so enjoyed is alive and well! The pear trees bloomed March 7. (March. SEVENTH.) I have half a mind to pack my bags for Toronto, because SWEATING IN MARCH IS INSAAAAANE, and the constant sneezing and postnasal drip? Well. Spring is no sexier here than there. 🙂

  32. “into sheep”*snerk* Reminds of the old joke: Why do Scotsmen wear kilts? Because sheep can hear a zipper at fifty yards….

  33. You could also use a lingerie bag to hold the locks, they zip closed so no floating sheep and a bit more air flow going through so they’d possibly dry quicker??
    And now I’e read back through the comments and it’s been suggested a couple of times. Great yarn/fibre minds think alike 🙂

  34. Bewilder the wildebeest.
    Gutter Guard is a plastic grid product sold here in NZ, which is recommended for drying fleece, though the ideas of washbags above the heat source sound good too. You use spring pegs to hold two flattish planes of Gutter Guard together. Could you find anything like that in a big name hardware store in Toronto?
    Fleece washing gets tedious, but I can’t think of a better way of approaching it. The ‘wool water’ is great for the garden, though I am not sure about using it in subzero conditions, and I would only use it outside because of the smell.

  35. Hot Wet Wool….a very distinct smell, and one that I can’t believe that I tolerate. Having gone thru Sister Kenny’s late 1940’s solution to Polio ravaged limbs(steaming hot wool compresses wrapped around one’s arms and legs each day), I thought I’d never be able to stomach the smell of wet wool again, but I do it each time I wet block one of my projects.

  36. I can’t block registers or it is too cold in here. So here’s what I do. Drying rack (one of those fold-up wooden deals with dowels to hang stuff over) + old curtains (thin) + clothes pins to hold curtains, making shelves. Pile on wool. Set over vent.
    No snow here and it’s been warm this week, but is to get to freezing tonight. And I have no heat. Rewiring my house has disconnected the furnace till the city can inspect and power company can move the meter. Brrrr. Electrician has stretched a 2.5 day job to a 5 day job. There went my week off work.

  37. I don’t know what hot, wet, off the animal wool smells like, but I love that faint smell of sheep on skeins of wool yarn.

  38. Dang you evil temptress… I thought that link would take me to a place to spend my tax return! Alas, registration must wait.

  39. This will sound terribly naive to all you “real” wool people out there — the spinners, the dyers, etc…But it’s my one true connection to a sheepie, and I cherish the memory. Years ago, we traveled to Scotland where I fell in love with everything about that country. On one long afternoon “wee walkie” (see? how could you not love it?) among sheep on the hillside, I picked up a handful of fleece on the ground. It’s still in that jacket pocket, and I love reaching in and holding it, rolling it around in my hand, remembering where it came from. I might actually like the smell of sheepie in my house occasionally!

  40. So what you are saying is, you are in DEEP SHEEP. What ever came of the Barbie boobie fiber scarf…Did I miss a post on that?

  41. I LOVE the smell of drying wool, although friends who visit my apartment while the wool is drying (in cradles made of tea towels suspended on one of those fold up wood and plastic drying racks over the furnace vent in the kitchen) aren’t QUITE so enthusiastic. Oh the smell of lanolin and wet sheep! I wuvs you!

  42. I so get the sheep smell. When I dye wool in the winter, I wrap it in damp towels and lay it across the top of the steam radiators which heat my house… no fluffy bits of fleece flying by, but a wonderful smell of wet sheep and vinegar fill the house until everything is dry.

  43. I love your description of scouring a fleece. I wash a fleece a week so I’ve kind become an expert. I’m pretty low tech as well bathtub and dawn dish detergent. I was luckly enough to have some drying racks made for me from when I was a soapmaker. They work great to dry wool.

  44. It’s always great to see pictures of other peoples kitchen sinks filled with dirty fleece. I was in the same situation last weekend. Good times 😉

  45. Geesh! Why didnt I think of that! Good to keep the German Shepherd bunnies away from the fleecies too!

  46. Ms sister and I learned to spin in the mid 1970s. For her birthday (April)that year I bought her a fleece. The only type I could find in Indiana at that time- coarse and so-so,but still a fleece. Also FILTHY. We spread out a sheet in my parents’ living room, picked through it and bagged large segments of it in pillow case for washing. Naturally, it rained, which is why we worked in the living room… For YEARS after that every time it rained, our parents reported that is smelled like wet sheep in the living room. They loved us. But, hey, they were the ones who encouraged us to try new things!

  47. I am chiming in to say that I do so love the smell of wool. Those vapors will do me in just as easily as mindless knitting. Two of my favorite things. Wish I could have smell installed on my computer (okay, maybe not, it would have to be for only good smells). That’s why I have to go to the fiber fest. My city yard would probably support a baby lamb for a few weeks and then it would have to go to the farm. I could go to the farm and visit… I think the smell is getting to me… off to knit.

  48. Gee Whiz, I’m looking for just the right shade of light blue (icy blue, not pastel) and would be very interested in faxing you Wednesday two weeks from now in trade. I’d fax you next week Wednesday, but I’m working that day. I don’t think you would like it so much. Now if I could just figure out if the virtual fax has the memory to handle a full day…

  49. like some other posters, i have ceiling heat vents. my wool sweaters go on mesh drying racks, perched atop wood drying racks, in the direct path of the forced air. usually, the lower levels of the racks are full of undies and hand-knit socks, sometimes with slightly damp jeans hung on the ends. air-drying as many items as possible is my version of a humidifier — saves laundry quarters, too!
    i’m only a beginning spinner, so i’ll “enjoy” wool-scouring vicariously, thankyouverymuch.

  50. Oh you mean air vents? I had no idea what you meant by heat registers. This side of the pond it is, possibly, Spring (sorry),which means I can wash some of my heavier wollens, so my house is smelling of wet sheep too.

  51. Ah, the smell of sheep. I scoured an entire Jacob fleece a few years ago in the bath. Much to my husbands dismay, the house smelt like a farmyard for weeks. Having to dry the fleece on the spare bed with the door closed to prevent cat-games (they love a bit of fleece) didn’t really make him love the sheepy as much as I do…

  52. Perhaps in my discussions with my husband about the Masters spinning course I won’t mention the minutiae of prepping raw fleece…

  53. Okay, I have to ask:
    What did the cat think of the little bits of fleece floating tantalizingly through the air? Or did she even notice?

  54. Why can’t you just lay it on towels in the open air and let it dry. Does it have to heat dry quickly?

  55. After all this time, do you really think we come for the wool? No (at least not entirely). We come for you, m’dear, and if you wish to wax on about post-its and emails, we understand. Of course, wool wisps are cool too, and more imaginative on this, another snowy day on Long Island.

  56. My dog recently discovered my bags of fleece, and decided it would be fun to open one and snuggle down into it. Cute, but then the fleece smelled like wet dog and sheep when it was washed. Goober dog. Come to think of it, the dog smelled like sheep for a while, which is more pleasant than expected.

  57. I have a friend with goats–nice goats–who produce prodigious amounts of hair. We wash it in the same high tech solution you use, and spread it out on old screen doors in my basement. The first time we did that, my husband wandered down to find something, and out of the depths I hear, “Whoa–Did you explode Santa Claus?” Happy sheep washing!

  58. Actually, I take back my nag about the gansey. You’re stressed; just do the necessary until Sock Summit and summer are finished.

  59. last year, i picked up and saved seven fleeces for my sister. they lingered in my living room for a week. my kittikidz went crazy – every bag had a cat-sized hole in it and a cat-sized nest magically appeared in each fleece….the house smelt heavenly!
    kittikidz were very grumpy when the fleeces had to go to their real home….

  60. I’d buy a saturday if I could. Husband sleeping as he works nights), house in total silence..peace!!!

  61. There are a lot of worse things that your house could smell like.
    Sorry about not having a Wenesday, I would lend you mine if I could.

  62. No way could I just leave the wool laying on a register, forced air or not. I have 1 cat who would have it scattered and slobbered upon, if not eaten. The others would probably just lay on it.

  63. I have 2 bags of fleece (Rambouillet) in my kitchen and 1 in my craft room (Border Leicester – white – makes a fabulous loopy yarn) that I’m in the process of doing the same thing. I’m trying out the Margaret Stove method which, although time consuming, is a wonderful way to prepare for spinning lace.

  64. I’ve always wondered why scouring fleece in hot water and soap doesn’t result in a felted glob of fleece, as would happen if the yarn were treated the same way. BTW, those are lovely colours in your Jacob fleece.

  65. hmmm… I wonder how much a Wednesday would cost… A vowel is only $250 US. oooh, and what if when you did buy a wednesday Pat said, “There are 7 Wednesdays in the puzzle” Now that’s a bargain!

  66. “Can I buy a Wednesday?” I really like that idea. Everyone wants to know what I want for my birthday, and all I want is time. Maybe I’ll ask for a Wednesday….how to make it work is their problem!

  67. Mmmmmmm. The fleece looks positively scrumptious. Will you drum card or hand card?
    We’re shearing here on our farm – six sheep left to go. The yearling ewes are the ones to be done on Saturday & I can hardly wait to see what they’ve been growing. :-))))) It’s like Christmas.

  68. How are you washing your wool? I have a bag of unwashed wool locks and when I looked online for directions for washing them, the directions I found all mentioned making “sausages” with the locks encased in netting prior to washing them to prevent felting. Is that only for huge amounts of wool?

  69. Thank you for featuring a rare breed fleece! If any other readers are interested in rare breed fleece, an excellent source is the U.S. Sheep Breeders Directory at http://www.nebraskasheep.com/directory Click on “Breeds” and you see the index by breed. Each breed page contains the names and locations of breeders with their website, email, and phone number posted. Many have fleece for sale pages, especially this time of year. As Deb Robson says, handspinners are able to make use of these unique materials. I make a point of getting a couple every year. This year I’ve scored Jacob, Lincoln, Leicester Longwool, CVM, and I’ve still got an inquiry out about Cotswold fleece. So, um, that’s more than a couple, but it’s important to save this gene pool.

  70. My husband’s comments on the smell of washing fleeces: “If you could bottle that smell, it’d be in a bottle.” I think that explains very well his opinion on it. 🙂

  71. I just bought (ordered, actually) my first raw fleece. We’ll see in May when it arrives what we think of the process.
    I can’t believe I did that! I always said that I never would consider it.
    Actually, I think I didn’t consider it and that’s how it happened. LOL

  72. I LOVE that wet wool smell! I was just dreaming the other day of the alpaca fleeces that are available at our local farmer’s market that will be starting up in June. I might just be brave enough to handle a raw fleece after several years of caring for my babies and their cloth diapers! I can’t imagine washing a fleece could be much more gross than washing cloth diapers.

  73. I love the smell of wet wool and lanolin. I must have been a sheep farmer in a past life.

  74. Thank you for the last couple of blog posts. Autumn hit here yesterday – it still got up to about 30C by the afternoon but the morning was CRISP and I actually found myself thinking I could do with a beanie on the walk to school. Between the weather and you, you are just about to push me back towards all my lovely fleeces and my wheel, which have been disgracefully neglected over summer.
    Last winter I was elbow-deep in raw fleece, happily spinning away in front of evening TV, when it finally occurred to me to ask my husband ‘Can you smell the fleece?’ His face as he replied ‘Yes’ made it extremely clear that he didn’t LIKE the smell. Our TV room is about 2 metres by 3 metres…. that’s a very small volume of air to be perfumed by an entire unwrapped raw fleece. Whoops.
    Clearly I will be spinning out in the (large, vaulted ceiling) living room, by the fire, with an audiobook, this winter, and not in the TV room.

  75. I’m anxious to see updates. Because if I remember, you spin from the lock? As a beginning spinner, I’d love to have more information.

  76. I can’t find my index right now, but I would swear that Spin Off had an article by Alden Amos about building a fleece dryer from a 5 gal. bucket, a piece of hardware cloth or two, and a hair dryer. The statement about drying a pound of fleece in an afternoon comes to mind….

  77. I was just scrolling through the comments and “Gutter Guard” popped up….we have a product in Canada with the same name but it’s actually for on the eavestroughs, LOL.
    I was going to suggest a mesh bag too. Even a football or hockey jersey (buy them at the Sal. Army for $2 and make your own wash bag).
    However, I was most surprised to see you have your heat on! LOL. You delay so long in the fall, and then winter WAS over for a few days so I’m surprised to see you turned it back on 🙂

  78. This is very interesting. I never knew about this. It’s crazy what you can see on the web sometimes. Time to tweet this!

  79. Whoa this is an amazing post. You’ve must have done heavy research on this article. This is rather effective so I must show all my coworkers.

  80. I was dying on my lunch break and then I found your blog story. This was so intriguing that I was late in coming back to work. Can’t wait to share this with my coworkers!

  81. I swear, you can crack me up even when I am having a tough day and you can still manage to get in so much good information. You have just gone nova brilliant!

  82. great way to dry things — in effect you are making a tiny little drying cabinet; the warm air is trapped by the tea towel and so lingers around the wool for a bit longer then it otherwise would picking up moisture. The tea towel allows the warm air to eventually escape, carrying its moisture load with it. I’ve found that things dry even better if the tea towel just covers the damp object rather than completely encircles it because the warm air from below captures more moisture than it otherwise would. You can place wet things on a drying rack over the heat register and if the rack is covered by a sheet, everything dries in a jiffy. Great use of the heat register — if you’re drying your washing — it adds humidity to the air and you don’t get that dry heat rash on your skin.

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