Finally I have managed to put it on our site!
Washing a fleece removes lanolin, which will impede the dyeing process if it is not washed out, as the natural grease of the fleece will act as a barrier to the dye.
Some spinners like spinning in the grease and leave the fleece unwashed; Others will simply rinse the fleece to get some lanolin out, but these days we have found most people prefer to spin without much lanolin present, so they tend to wash their fleeces before spinning.
Cold or hot washing?
I always used to wash my fleeces in hot water until a lovely lady at the Highland Dyers, Spinners and Weavers Guild suggested I tried cold washing and now I do both, cold and hot depending on the fleece, what I am doing with it and time.
Washing fleeces (scouring) in hot water
Use a tub/bath fill with hot water (about 50 degrees hand hot). Add 2 capfuls of Ecover washing liquid. Immerse the sorted fleece very gently covering with the hot soapy water. Do not aggravate the fleece too much, as this could lead to it becoming felted. Leave the fleece in the water for about 45 minutes-1 hour. Remove the fleece and gently squeeze the excess water out. Replace the hot soapy water and repeat the method. This can be done two or three times depending on how dirty your fleece is. Lastly, rinse the fleece in the tub with fresh water at about 40 degrees and repeat this twice (leaving in the water for about 45 minutes). Gently squeeze out the excess water, and spread out the fleece to dry. I use drying racks made of chicken wire. In the past scoured fleece was laid out on rocks in the sun and wind to dry.
In cold water
The process is the same except with cold water and instead of only leaving the fleece in for an hour, leave it in for 24 hours each wash. The fleece should really soak for 3 days at least. Cold washing does not get as much lanolin out as the hot washing – but it will get a fleece clean and leave just a little lanolin in.
Any questions please ask!