Random thoughts of a fiber enthusiast - mostly fiber related, sometimes coherent


I went back to finish up the locks I had prepped back in August. This time, I’ve decided to wash them lock by lock, a la Margaret Stove, with a couple of minor modifications.

Wash Station

Here’s my setup, clockwise from upper left:

  1. 1.5 – 2 cups of hot near boiling water * with ECOS Free and Clear Laundry Detergent (I used the #1 mark for HE washers. I don’t know what that translates to in cc or cups.)
  2. Bar of soap (from the laundry aisle).
  3. Rinse water #1. Again, near boiling water.
  4. Rinse water #2. Again, near boiling water.

* I kept a pot of water simmering on the stove and used it to fill my bowls. Then I added a small amount of tepid water to bring it down from boiling temperature.


  1. Dip one end of the lock in station #1. Swish it around. Pull out. Gave it a light squeeze. Repeat for the other end.
  2. Rubbed the lock into the bar of soap. Repeat for the other end.
  3. Swished one end of the lock in Rinse #1. Squeeze. Repeat for the other end.
  4. Rinse #2, same as Rinse #1.

I had 2 rinses because there was a lot of suds after the soap bar, and my water was pretty soapy after a few locks, hence the second rinse bath.

Soap Scrub

Why both a ECOS bath and the soap bar scrub?

Margaret Stove showed 2 methods for washing fleece. First method was lock by lock on a soap bar. The second method was a packet of locks in a soapy bath. I thought I would just swish my locks in a soapy bath and call it good.

Actually, it was good. It came out quite clean. (Sorry, forgot to snap a picture.) But, I still had the dirty tips, so I scrubbed the tips of a couple of the dirtier ones on the bar of soap after the soap dip. After rinsing and squeezing them dry, I thought that the locks that went through both washing methods were just a smidge whiter. It could just be my imagination, but it was there. And it only added a few extra seconds to each lock.

I replaced all the wash bowls with fresh hot water every 10 locks or so, as Margaret suggested. How well did this work? I’ll let this picture speak for itself.

Washed Locks

Clean weight is about 1.5 oz. (40-45g). It took just a bit over an hour to wash these locks this way. 1.5 oz. will take about a week of evenings to spin into lace weight yarn. So, that’s a lot of fiber in a small amount of time.

Unfortunately, Solomon (cormo fleece) is northward of 6 pounds, or 64 hours of washing up. That doesn’t count preparing the locks for washing. (Separating into finger sized locks. Stacking them neatly.)

Incidentally, I bought a stack of those green baskets that the locks are resting in for washing fleece. The holes allow the water to move through the locks and drain freely. I fill one basket (single layer) in the basket and put it in the sink with hot soapy water. I nest an empty one on top when I plunge it in the bath so they don’t shift around. I may plunge it a once or twice this way to make sure that the dirty water moves out. Be careful to not create too much suds!

It’s definitely faster this way than my lock method above, but it also uses a whole lot more water. I think the lock method used 1/3 the water that the bath method uses. Also, the bath method doesn’t get the locks nearly as bright and clean as the lock method. Speed vs. water conservation. Speed vs. bright white locks. Did I mention 64 weeks? Yeah. It’s a difficult choice.

To see the difference between washing bulk vs. lock by lock, go back to my August post.




Hand Sewing

1 Comment

  1. Amy

    64 hours…yeah, I’m avoiding the math on the 7# Corriedale fleece in gorgeous shades of gray, black and white. I don’t want all that color variegation to disappear in processing, so I’ve set it aside for the Stove treatment…followed by combing…and I’ll spin off the comb. Random color arrangement. Love the plan. Am in complete denial about how long this will take me!! :-)

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