Friday, Mike and I drove to LaOtto, Indiana, to deliver our wool to the mill to be carded. Having 19 fleeces this year, it would have cost a fortune to mail. And the mill co-owner had encouraged me to start washing our own fleeces. To entice me even more, he said that if we wash it and drive it over, they can card it while we're there and bring it home the same day. Compare that scenario to mailing and waiting several months to get the roving back, and you can see that it was quite tempting to finally dive in and do the washing ourselves. Apparently, there are not a lot of people who want to wash it themselves, so the backlog at the mill is in washing the fleeces. Laziness aside, I can see why people are reluctant to wash their own fleeces. If you do it incorrectly, you can wind up with a matted mess.
We have an old washing machine in one of our barns, however, we tried to use it once five years ago, and it wouldn't stop filling up. Pretty scary! We finally pulled the plug before it overflowed. Mike, being an electrical engineer and a professor of electrical engineering technology, loves to fix electrical things. (We were watching beta tapes for many years after everyone else had stopped.) I told him all he had to do was get the washing machine to fill up, spin, and drain, which he was able to accomplish in an hour or two. Another hour or two later, and he even had it agitating, even though I was happier when it didn't agitate, because you do not agitate fleeces! (They felt.) Then Mike volunteered to do the washing -- he said he could do it between other projects he was doing out there. It was a great plan, and in less than a month, we had all 19 fleeces ready to go!
We got out of bed at the crack of dawn Friday morning, and by 6:20, we were on the road headed east to Indiana. We attempted to take the direct route, which was through the countryside (rather than up, across, and down the interstate), and some of those roads are not marked very well, which meant we took a few wrong turns. We had hoped to arrive by 10 a.m. We thought we arrived at 11 a.m., but when we were talking to Matt, one of the co-owners, Mike noticed Matt's watch said noon! We had crossed into the eastern time zone! Doh!
It was great going to the mill, meeting Matt and Jamie in person, and seeing their operation. We came home with ideas for better washing our fleeces and preparing them for carding, although they said we did a great job of washing. Only one fleece of the 19 had a touch of lanolin left in it, so Mike was really proud of himself. The fleeces are absolutely beautiful, and we can hardly wait to start spinning, knitting, and crocheting! I am also looking at some of these spotted fleeces and thinking that I really need to learn how to weave!