October 19, 2010

Lemon Vinegar & Fleeces

It was during one of my rare “ah-ha moments” that these lovely jars of lemon vinegar came to be. I was working with one of the Shetland fleeces, actually attempting to put the fiber through the drum carder. I say attempting due to the drum carder and I having a very rocky beginning. I just couldn’t seem to get the swing of things with the wonderful little machine.

My little crafting corner, fiber flows off the drum carder now. Those bags on the shelf in the background are what I am washing while it is warm for craft projects this winter.

Oh I could fill the drum perfectly; I just couldn’t get the batting off the drum. I had to literally pick it off. Time consuming to say the least, definitely not good for the teeth on the carding cloth regardless of how careful I was and it was frustrating as all get out!
After suffering with the same results 2 or 3 times made me just not want to use the darn thing at all. I read and re-read directions. I scoured the internet for information; watched how-to You Tube videos (this is an act of desperation – we have dial up and it takes an hour or more to load a 7 minute video) even talked to the wonderful makers of the drum carder about my issues.

My friend and sheep mentor Tammy mentioned possibly re-washing the fleeces, making sure to get them uber clean. There might be the possibility grease could still be on the fleece which was gumming up the works for me.
Rewashing the fleece was not a big issue, I just really didn’t want to because I knew I was washing the fleece very well and carefully rinsing completely. I had been rinsing as many times as it took to see clean, clear water. The dry fleeces felt clean, not tacky or greasy. I just knew they were clean. I gave in and decided to rewash them. At the time I was also surfing the internet for fiber washing info. Not sure where I found the info, I think it was my Colored Angora group. Someone suggested adding vinegar to the final rinse. Humm…stinky vinegar on my precious fleeces made me cringe. I hate the smell of vinegar.

Vinegar is something we keep in the pantry at all times. We use vinegar to home can, make cheeses, marinades, salad dressings and due to Jim being diabetic you wouldn’t believe the info floating around out there about using vinegar to lower blood sugar. I have a folk remedy book on the benefits of vinegar. Vinegar for bug bites, dandruff, skin rashes, as a household cleaner it makes a good bathroom cleanser, use it on the bowl, sink and mirrors. For laundry, vinegar is said to soften, you can add a ½ of cup to a cup depending on size of load. I also use vinegar to dye fleece. …you could probably find 1001 uses for vinegar.

During the summer we like fresh squeezed lemonade and I love homemade lemon curd on toast and muffins. Winter brings baked goodies like lemon pies, which for some reason I am craving at the moment. Sure I could use that store bought lemon juice but it just doesn’t have the sameness as a fresh lemon, not the same zing and definitely no lemon peel to zest. At times we accumulate a few lemon peels which I hate just pitching them out. We don’t have a garbage disposal in the kitchen (our garbage disposal = pigs) or I would run them through it as a cleanser for that clean fresh lemon scent. So what to do with the peels?

One day after making lemon curd, thinking vinegar cuts grease, lemon juice dissolves soap scum and hard water deposits - in combining the two would surely make my fleeces oil free and soft.

But what about that vinegar smell? There is still a bit of the vinegar stink but nothing as bad as straight vinegar, it’s fresh lemon scented vinegar.

I started adding lemon vinegar to each final rinse of the fleeces. How much? Well, the on line sites I read recommended a “glub” of vinegar. Come on a glub? I started with ¼ cup. Thinking less is best. The fleeces are soft, have no sheepy or vinegar smell. And another plus, lemon is also considered a natural pest repellant for fleece.

In the kitchen I have substituted the lemon vinegar in marinades and vinaigrette recipes. Not bad if I say so myself. Next will be using in making goat cheese to see if the lemon is noticeable.

Was grease in the fleece causing my problem? We will never know for sure. Shortly after I began using the lemon vinegar I learned the proper method in removing the batting. I was going about it all wrong, backwards to honest with you.

Til next time
Thanks for stopping by and have a great rest of the day!

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