So you took the plunge, or you're about to, but wait. You don't know how to treat your wool. I mean, its cute and all, but once I get it... what do I do with it?
So the first thing you will need to do is gather your mad scientist supplies!
- Bottle (This is optional, you can stir, I prefer shaken not stirred)
- Baby soap. I use CJ's Carcass Cleaner.
- Solid lanolin. Yes, you can use spray lanolin or wool wash with lanolin incorporated, but generally that is not enough lanolin to full lanolize your wool. Pictured is Crow Mountain Crafts Solid Lanolin.
- Wool wash (bar or liquid). Pictured is CJ's Wool Wash and Crow Mountain Crafts Wool Wash Bar.
- Large bowl. You can also use your sink but since I don't like monopolizing my sink with wool, I use a bowl.
- Tea kettle (optional). I use this to get my water hot enough to emulsify the lanolin. You can also boil water in a pot or microwave.
- Cup to mix lanolin in. I use a measuring cup.
- Spoon and knife. To mix lanolin and to weigh wool down in water if needed.
- Wool! You have multiple options. Bumby pre-orders just opened and sustainablebabyish|sloomb has instock and pre-orders available.
The first thing you are going to do is wet your wool. Be sure to give it a nice squish (squeeze) to get it nice and wet. It is best to wash/lanolize your wool inside out so the wet zone can get the best of your mix!
Next, you are going to take your wool wash bar (or liquid wool wash if that is your choice) and gently rub the wool down. You don't need to rub with the bar too much, just get a nice layer of wash onto your wool. Once you have a nice layer of wash, work it in gently with your fingers.
To finish prepping your wool for lanolization, place it back in your bowl of water to sit until your ready for it! This helps the wool adjust to the water temperature and be ready for lanolin.
Now on to lanolizing! I have a heavy hand in lanolizing because I use my wool often. For overnight/bullet proof use you are going to want to be heavier with your lanolin. This was for 2 pieces, one of which has been lanolized before. In general, you need to lanolize twice to get full strength. I took a heaping teaspoon of my Crow Mountain Crafts Solid Lanolin.
I put the teaspoon of lanolin my measuring cup and filled it halfway with water (about 1 1/2 cup) I boiled in my tea kettle. I added 2 squirts of CJ's Carcass Cleaner to help the lanolin emulsify.
Because I shake my lanolin mix, I only stir it in the water until it turns completely liquid. Still greasy and not emulsified, but no lumps!
Next I pour my mix in my bottle. I put some extra (1/2 a cup) of my leftover boiled water in the measuring cup to get all the lanolin out of the cup and pour that in as well. Then I shake shake shake shake. (Since your water is very hot, it makes the glass hot, so I wrap a kitchen towel around the bottle.) You'll know when to stop shaking because the lanolin will be completely emulsified. It will look like whole milk, so no "floaties" (lanolin grease spots) and will be nice and smooth.
Alternative: If you plan on stirring your lanolin, you will skip the bottle and pour into a bowl and stir until you get the desired consistency.
I poured the lanolin mix back into the measuring cup so you can get a view on how your lanolin mix should look. The white "foam" on the top is just from shaking and has no effect on the mix. You'll want to take your wool out of your bowl and gently squeeze excess water out
Now your mix is still pretty hot and in order to avoid felting you will want to lower the temperature of the water to lukewarm, you don't want to shock your wool with hot water. To avoid this, I have found that the best way to gradually cool your lanolin mix down is to pop in a couple ice cubes! I put 2 in my mix and slowly stir until they have dissolved. The white ring in the pictures is just from flash.
Now my mix is cooled down enough to add warm water. You'll want it just warm enough that you can feel it on your wrist. Add it slowly and stir while you add it. If added too hot/cold or too fast, your lanolin might get a little shocked (eek!) and separate a little bit.
This is what my lanolin mix with water looks like. It lightens up some but not much.
I only add enough water to fully cover my wool.
And alas! Its finally time to give your wool a nice lano bath! Put it in and give it a nice squish and gentle swish to get the lanolin mix all up in your wool's business!
Now is the really hard part. You have to wait. And wait. And wait. When first lanolizing my wool, I do a full 24 hour soak. If its been lanolized before I only soak overnight. This gives the wool lots of time to soak in that milky goodness. If your wool has been lanolized repeatedly or you aren't planning on using it for night time, you may only need to soak for 30 minutes to couple hours.
24 hours later
Your wool is ready to drain! Pour your lano mix out and gently squeeze the excess out of your wool. Try to avoid twisting as that can felt wool. If you ended up with "floaties", don't worry, you can use your finger to spread them on your wool and lanolin dries clear. That area will just have a little extra protection.
To help my wool dry faster I lay it on a towel to roll out excess water.
Gently roll and squeeze out the excess water from your wool.
And finally you can hang your wool to dry! If you want to dry it faster, you can point a fan at it. It is also suggested to turn your wool over to allow each side to get enough air time to dry.
Easy Peasy right? Well it may seem complicated, but once you do it the first few times it becomes second nature!