The spring fiber festival season is just around the corner! For fiber artists who delight in sourcing fleece and fibers straight from the source, these events are the perfect opportunity to replenish your stash with unique fibers you may not find anywhere else. Plus, there are always plenty of tempting prepared fibers from hand-dyers and indie makers, too!
As a result, you’re likely to purchase more fiber than you can spin or felt right away, which means that you will need to choose some fibers to store away for a rainy day.
Today, we’ll share some of our best tips for properly cleaning and storing fleece and fibers so that they are ready to spin whenever inspiration strikes!
If you purchased any raw fleece or fibers, assessing their level of cleanliness is your first step. Even if fibers “look” clean, they may have some residual grease (this is particularly common in wools). This grease can attract moths and other pests, and it will also damage your fiber processing equipment if it is not removed from your fiber before use.
As a general rule, we recommend washing all fleece and fibers right away.
You don’t need a lot of fancy equipment to get your fleece and fiber squeaky clean – in fact, you don’t even need a special wool wash, you can just use Dawn dish soap to remove the grease! However, we’ve found that a specialized product can make the process easier and faster – Unicorn Power Scour is a popular choice amongst fiber artists and is worth trying out, especially if you have a LOT of fiber to wash.
A large mesh bag such as one you would use for washing lingerie or a sweater is also very useful to have, particularly if you’ll be using your washing machine’s spin cycle to remove excess water from the fibers.
Fiber Drying Hack: If you don’t have easy access to a washing machine, try using a salad spinner instead! It will take a little longer, but it is another easy option for removing excess water without damaging fibers, thus shortening your dry time.
Once your fibers are clean and dry, it’s time to store them away if you don’t plan to use them right away! While it may be tempting to display them out in the open in attractive shelves or baskets, this will make fibers vulnerable to moths or other pests. Always remember: an ounce of prevention can save your fiber stash!
We recommend storing your fibers in air-tight containers; if you have enough storage space, you can even sort your fibers so that all of the prepared rovings, tops and batts are in one container, and clean fleece & fiber are in another. Within those containers, you can use Ziploc or Space Storage bags to keep like fibers together, and add an additional line of defense.
Finally, for added insurance, you can include a cedar or lavender sachet to naturally ward off pests.
Worried About Wool-Loving Pests?
It’s highly unlikely that any fibers you purchase at a fiber festival or show will have moths, but fibers from other sources can sometimes be risky. If you have ANY concerns that fleece or fiber you have purchased might have moths or other pests hitching a ride, the best thing you can do is place those fibers in the freezer for a few days to kill eggs and prevent them from hatching. You can find more info about moth infestations (and how to prevent them!) here on the Knit Darling blog.
We hope these tips help you organize your fiber stash and keep it safe & spin-ready. If you liked this post, pin it!