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How to scour raw wool for dyeing

This is the start of a series of short videos I'm planning to document a fleece-to-fabric project I'm working on this year. I'm aiming to create a garment using only locally sourced fibres and dyes. The wool in this video is from Fernhill Fibre, which is also the source of the wool in my Mendip range of yarn

The fleece I'm using here is only a part fleece – I've already used quite a lot of it in other projects. It's important that before you start scouring (washing), the fleece is skirted. This means that all the excessively soiled and matted areas, especially from round the edge of the fleece, have been removed. These parts can be composted or used as mulch if you have a garden or allotment. 

The next step in preparing the fleece for dyeing is scouring. This removes dirt from the fleece, as well as lanolin – the natural grease produced by sheep. A clean fleece will take dye much better. Scouring must be done gently or the fleece can felt and mat together, which would make it useless for spinning.

Scouring isn't difficult, but requires a bit of patience and a light touch!

I hope you'll join me for the next video in the series, when I'll be dyeing this fleece with plants from my garden. 

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