I’ve probably mentioned at some point in this blog that I’m not a huge fan of spinning merino wool. Don’t get me wrong, I like knitting and weaving with merino yarns, but I’m just not a huge fan of spinning it…probably because when I first started spinning, I attempted to spin merino (I was learning on my own with no guidance) and it was a disaster. I almost quit spinning before I had even started good because of merino. So, yes, I do spin merino, but it’s not my favorite fiber by a long shot.
With the preamble aside, I found some raw Debouillet fleece for a great price on Etsy…and after reading how rare it was to find, I ordered 2 pounds from Marathon Basin Wool Mill (Marathon, TX).
The Debouillet breed is part of the Merino family (hence the rant on merino earlier), originally created by crossing a Delaine Merino with a Rambouillet.
According to the Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook:
Origin: United States (New Mexico)
Fleece weights: 9-18 pounds
Staple lengths: 3″-5″
Fiber diameters: 18-24 microns
Natural colors: White
The raw fleece arrived last week, but I was busy combing some of the washed GCN (Gulf Coast Native) wool, so I put it aside until this week. When I pulled half of the fleece out for washing yesterday, I realized that this wool was going to be lanolin heavy (like all merinos), so I started with hot water instead of doing a few room temp washes before scouring. This is the first raw fleece I’ve washed in my kitchen sink, but knowing all the hot water I would be using, I didn’t see another choice.
I did two initial (super) hot water washes with DAWN and that cleared most of the dirt and lanolin out. I then followed with two warm water rinses until the water was mostly clear. Because I’ll be washing this again when it’s spun and woven, I didn’t want to strip all the lanolin out with the initial washes. The fleece was laid outside to dry in the sun until sundown and I’ll be checking on it later today. When it was mostly dry, I could tell that the fleece was going to be really soft, so I’m looking forward to processing it to spin. It does have A LOT of vm in it, so we’ll see how that goes. I only washed around a pound of the fleece, so hopefully, that’ll make it more manageable.
*If a fleece is heavily soiled, I usually start with tepid water rinses (no soap) to clear out dirt & VM as it saves on hot water use and trips back and forth to the stove since I wash most fleeces outside.