Thursday, October 18, 2012

Bunny Love

(photo provided by angie)

Hi, Knitters,
I love my job. I love my job for so many reasons and one of them is that every single day I get emails from knitters all over the world. I never know what is going to pop up in my inbox. I get photos and stories and questions. I love it that people want to share their knitting and stories with me. That is the reason I knit, write and share with you, because it is incredibly rewarding when I get an email like the one that came from Angie the other day. 

With Angie's permission, here is sweet little Rachel's story, and I have a question for all of you at the end: 

Hi Susan,
I am a knitter from (deleted for privacy) - my friend recently gave me a bag of wool from her sheep Little Nut. How  in the world do I clean the wool? It has some unmentionables on it from Little Nut along with small pieces of hay. Thank you for any and all advice! I have your book Itty Bitty Toys  and love it! The picture I attached is of my daughter Rachel and her bunny. She was 3 lbs 11 oz at birth and the bunny kept her company in the NICU at Children's Hospital in Milwaukee. She is now 14 months and I am looking forward to making her the puppy from your book. I am waiting to add the facial features to the bunny once she is old enough to tell me if it is a boy or girl bunny.
Thank you,

Hi, Angie,
Okay, 2 things:
1. That is the sweetest photo I have ever seen. Can I put that on my blog and tell your story? I love it so much. If not, no problem and I totally understand.
2. Is the wool roving or fleece or is it spun up into yarn that needs to be cleaned?
And one more: 3. I love the name LIttle Nut. At first I thought you were talking about the baby's nickname when I glanced at your email. :)
best, susan

Hi, Susan,
The wool has been untouched since being sheared off of Little Nut- I apologize for not knowing if it is roving or fleece. My friend has bags of it in her barn and does not knit or spin.

Rachel and I would be honored if you used her picture with her bunny and story. Rachel has a remarkable story herself- she has spina bifida and had her spine surgically repaired at 23 weeks of pregnancy at Vanderbilt University Hospital. I knitted the bunny while I was on bed rest until my water broke at 32 weeks 5 days. The bunny stayed with Rachel in the NICU and now  happily lives  in Rachel's room.

It's me again. I can just see Angie knitting away on the bunny while on bed rest and how it helped to pass the time while she anxiously awaited the arrival of Rachel. I love how at a time when you feel helpless knitting can bring a bit of comfort, at least you are doing something for the person you love while waiting it out. I love how the bunny kept Rachel company in the NICU and now lives in Rachel's room. It is sweet that the bunny is waiting for a face until Rachel can help tell her mom how she would like it to be. That photo of the baby and bunny has quite a story behind it.

Rachel sounds like a miracle baby. I am so glad she is now 14 months old. Thank you, Angie, for sharing your story and knitting.  

Now for the wool from Little Nut (best name ever for a sheep), I don't know much at all about processing raw fleece. Do any of you have advice for Angie? She lives in Wisconsin but I don't think that matters too much if you send it away to be processed.... or maybe you have information on how to clean the wool yourself. Please leave a comment if you are able to help direct Angie.

I love my job. Thank you, Knitters.
best, susie
p.s. And because I know I'll get asked, click here for the bunny pattern information.


Sally said...

I don't know about washing fleece, but I do know that Rachel and the bunny are just about the cutest I've ever seen. Sending little prayers Rachel's way for continued strength and good health. Thanks to you and Angie for sharing. xo

Cambria said...

such a sweet photo, and a sweet story :)

kanani said...

what a heart warming story! so sweet! I do know a little about cleaning wool and fleece. you need to pick through any and all of the gunk/hay that is there and then carefully wash it by hand like you would handspun (being careful not to felt it) and changing the water when it gets dirty repeating until the water runs clear. Then air dry. From there, your ready to card or comb your wool for spinning. Spinning Wool:Beyond the Basics by Anne Field is a great resource! I picked mine up from Amazon. Hope this helps!

Dianne@sheepdreams said...

What a precious picture of Rachel and her bunny! If Angie will pick through the fleece (called skirting) and remove the most obvious bits of vegetable matter and other unmentionable things, she can place the wool in a lingerie bag, submerge it in hot, soapy water, then allow it to soak a while, a lot of the dirt will come out. Gently squeeze the water out, refill the sink with water, allow to soak again, and repeat until it looks clean. Important to remember - no agitation and don't let the water run in on the wool (she'll have felt, if that happens!). This is a very condensed version of what needs to be done and the results will depend on the original condition of the fleece (which is hard to know without more information). Please feel free to have her email me, if she'd like, or there are tons of youtube videos that will illustrate washing fleece.

Susan B. Anderson said...

Thanks to kanani and Dianne! I will pass on these comments to Angie and share your email Dianne. That is very generous of you. Great information from both of you.

Renee Anne said...

Send that fleece off to Argyle Fiber Mill over in, well, Argyle. Before we moved, I had considered picking up a *ton* of unprocessed fiber from WI Sheep & Wool and sending it to them for processing but that didn't happen. I'd actually consider sending unprocessed fleece from California for them to process...just sayin'. I'm not sure how expensive it is but it should be on their website and I'm sure they could answer any questions :)

idiosyncratic eye said...

So cute! All the best for Rachel and her bunny. :)

christine said...

Hello Susan,

An important question to ask would be "What breed of sheep of the fleece from?" Is it a fiber producing animal or was it a meat sheep? Many people raise sheep for meat and they will often get the sheared fleece back and then stick them out in the barn not knowing what to do with it. The meat fleeces tend not to be good fleeces for spinning.

I'm here in Wisconsin and would be happy to help Angie skirt the the fleece and walk here through the washing process.


Mary said...

As a side note, my oldest daughter was a 33 week baby and three days old when she had her surgery (blocked intestine). She's now 40 and has three children of her own.

My old boss raises sheep and gave me many bags of fleece. He raises sheep for meat so the fleece isn't good for spinning. I use it for stuffing and it's the best stuffing I've ever used.

The important thing when cleaning fleece is NO AGITATION. Otherwise, she'll have a big bag of felt. And no sudden changes in water temp. I filled my washer with warm water and soap, agitated to mix them, turned the washer OFF, and then added the fleece in a large bag. Netting of some kind is good for the bag or use a pillowcase if that's what you have. Soak the fleece for a while. I think I did mine about 30 minutes.

Drain the water without agitation or spinning. (I think I lifted the bag of fleece out of the machine for this step.) Refill and resoak the fleece to remove the soap. If you want to squeeze it VERY gently at this step, you can try it - too vigorous and you again have felt. You can repeat the soap soak as often as it's needed, followed by the rinse soak.

To dry the fleece, I spread it out on some old window screens. One was elevated over my table and another over the tub. (I found over the table was best because I didn't have to move it. We just ate on TV trays for a few days.)

Once it's dry, the real work begins. You have to card the fleece. Carders are like a large version of a wire dog brush.

When I was learning to clean mine, there were no videos on YouTube but I imagine there are probably a lot of them these days.

As I said above, this is the best stuffing I've ever used. But keep the stuffed things away from dogs. Apparently, it will still smell wonderful to them. There's a particular pillow I had to hide from mine.

Kepanie said...

Can't remember if I had commented on your new header pic. It's fantastic, so you.
I <3 technology b/c b/c of it, that baby's spine was fixed in utero! Amazing. Glad she's doing well in the NICU and what a cute bunny to keep her company.

Jasmine said...

Hey Susan,
Im inlove with her bunny and the yarn she choose, Do you know what she knit her bunny?? Im expecting a baby in April and hoping to knit a bunny.. Love Love love her story and God Bless her and her beautiful Angel.. What a gift.. ;)

Jasmine Goodchild

Sharon said...

What a beautiful baby and bunny! Thank you for sharing. So sweet! Continued prayers for Rachel's good health.

Kim said...

Ty for sharing this amazing, wonderful story of Angie and her sweet new baby Rachel, with a sweet little bunny keeping her warm. I will keep little Rachel in my heart & prayers.

btw - I LOVE your new header pic!! Do you mind if I keep a copy? It's gorgeous :)

Anonymous said...

Sharon at says...I wash my fleece myself. If you email me, I will be happy to share what I know with you. Love the story and picture.

twinsetellen said...

Adding to the above comments on washing fleece - use really hot water if the fleece is greasy at all. And soak for awhile but not long enough to let the water cool - the lanolin will redeposit if it does.

Also - pick the fleece before you start washing! This means spread it out and remove all the nasty pieces. You will find dung, straw and burrs, etc. and it isn't worth trying to wash this out. Remove the lower quality fleece that grew on the legs or belly. This isn't wasteful if you use it for garden mulch!

Anonymous said...

I agree with the tips everyone is giving Rachel for scouring the fleece, but here in Iowa, some of that generic fleece sheared off of sheep raised for meat spins up into wonderful knitting yarn. Allot of it is too full of vegetable matter to be used, but some of it has wonderful crimp and luster---Rachel will just have to look it over and maybe do a little sampling.