Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wooly bastard

Winter wool shirts. With some shorties in their too.
Liza's shrunken cashmere at the end, now one of Maddie's faves.

About once a month I wash my wool. (Can you tell I'm on vacation -- stay tuned for many riveting posts like this!)

I think caring for my wool is probably the most anal I get when it comes to taking care of stuff. But it's damn pricey stuff and it lasts for many years if properly cared for.

I quarantine my wool to keep it out of the normal laundry cycle. When I wash my wool I follow a strict procedure that I've developed over time:

1. I presort the socks to make sure they're all paired up. If I have a single, I'll search for the mate. When I find the mate, I run the load. I always find the mate.

Sometimes I'll spot wash/pre-wash the bad looking stains. We use Fels Naptha bar soap. It works like a charm. Like a charm!

Long underwear and socks. Some guy is selling these
Ibex long johns on ebay (NIB) right now for $45. That is a deal.

2. I stuff the load of wool in the front-loader and add a 50-cent-piece-sized puddle of Eucalan wool wash. Set to delicate and set my stop watch timer for 24 minutes.

3. Eucalan is made for washing wool and has lanolin in it. Lanolin is the natural oil that resists water. Good stuff. You don't rinse when you wash with Eucalan. The idea is maintain the lanolin in the wool. You run the delicate cycle wash, then skip the rinse cycle. Hence the 24 minute timer.

Every 4th wash or so, I'll wash with normal, mild liquid detergent and do a full delicate cycle with rinse.

4. After 24 minutes, the wash cycle is complete, before it gets to rinse, I manually move the cycle to spin/drain.

5. After the super Asko spin cycle (1200 revolutions per minute!), the clothes are mostly not wet. I hang them. In the summer, they go on our back line, but this time of year, it's in the basement.

Maddie attempting to not get photo'd


Unknown said...

I've got about 7 icebreaker shirts that I hope last a very, very long time. I decided to buy one a few years back after hearing Alex discuss them on the touring list. I liked wearing that one so much that I decided to buy more over time.

Now I just wear wool shirts, and rarely anything else. If they wear out too soon, I may have to give up the idea until the price drops, however.

Anonymous said...

I didn't know about the lanolin.


John Speare said...

Andrew: Honestly, I don't know about that lanolin thing either. But if it does work as advertised, then I'm golden. I've been using this method for too long to change my ways.

TLP: With the exception of falls, I've only had one tear in a super thin Woolywarm shirt over the years. And even that tear was due more to user-error than faulty wool. Wool is tough. I think bang for the buck, it's a huge value. I wear it daily -- year round.

Anonymous said...

Wool..... awesome topic, John. I grew up wearing it, love it.

Yup, lanolin resists moisture, also guards against shrinkage....(I think). Some woolen mills retain the lanolin in their processing, others don't. I never thought about re-introducing it, though.

Fels Naptha, good for a lot of things.


Hank Greer said...

There ya go airing yer dirty laundry again....

Barb Chamberlain said...

I needed to know what kind of soap keeps the lanolin in! The things you learn reading a biking blog.


AssLissa said...

And I thought I was the one with a case of OCD.

John Speare said...

Hank: good one.

Barb; it's called Eucalan.

AssLisa: my launderin' doesn't take anything away from your OCD. You're still the queen.

Lee said...

Do you find any stretching happening with your tops when you hang them? I block my wool stuff, but it takes up most of the available floor space in one room, and then there's the fact that the cats like to zoom around and scatter the clothes. I was thinking about hanging them, but my in-house textile coach says she thinks I should block them.


John Speare said...

For microweight wool (which is what all my tops are -- around 18 microns) -- I don't find that they stretch or deform. When I hang them on the line in the summer using clothes pins, I get some temporary deformation from the pins, but it goes away after I wear the shirt for an hour or so.

I think the idea of laying out wool is more for the thicker, heavier wool. I took that pic in this post a few days ago and most of the shirts are still hanging there, and will until I wear them.