Knitter's Review Forums
  The online community for readers of Knitter's Review.
  This week: What makes a great knitting retreat?
   > Have you subscribed yet?
Knitter's Review Forums
KR Home | My Profile | Register | Active Topics | Private Messages | Search | FAQ
 All Forums
 Spinner Central
 Spinning Techniques
 Fermented Suint

Note: You must be registered in order to post a reply.
To register, click here. Registration is FREE!

Format Mode:
Format: BoldItalicizedUnderlineStrikethrough Align LeftCenteredAlign Right Horizontal Rule Insert HyperlinkInsert Email Insert CodeInsert QuoteInsert List

* Forum Code is ON
Smile [:)] Big Smile [:D] Cool [8D] Blush [:I]
Tongue [:P] Evil [):] Wink [;)] Clown [:o)]
Black Eye [B)] Eight Ball [8] Frown [:(] Shy [8)]
Shocked [:0] Angry [:(!] Dead [xx(] Sleepy [|)]
Kisses [:X] Approve [^] Disapprove [V] Question [?]


T O P I C    R E V I E W
robinstephanie Posted - 04/04/2014 : 08:55:28 AM
Well, we finally got enough rain down here for me to collect enough to start my first fermented suint vat. It's been so dry I've only been able to collect a few quarts of water. Over the last week's rainstorm, I just kind of snapped. I had pots, pans, bowls, a (clean) litter box, and a big plastic storage bin outside catching rain, and over the week, I finally got enough.

I've wanted to try this method for three years, ever since I overheard Judith Mackenzie discussing it with a blue ribbon winner at Black Sheep Gathering, but I was always lackadaisical about the rainwater.

My white Cormo hogget fleece went into the vat yesterday, and comes out next weekend. I am braced for the smell.

Has anyone else ever used this method to clean a fleece? What were your results? Any creepy-crawlies in the vat? Would you do it again? Was the smell as bad as advertised and can I use it to torture my horribly loud neighbors?


Different is good. ~Matthew Hoover
13   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
robinstephanie Posted - 06/25/2014 : 5:45:59 PM
Well, it didn't stink much for starters. I wonder if I live in too cool an environment to really get the vat going well. The fleece still had a lot of lanolin to the touch, so I put it through two hot washes. It's now very white, clean, and fluffy. It doesn't smell at all. It did while wet, but now that it's dry, it's fine. I left it outside in the sun for three days, so maybe that helped the smell?

I followed that up with another high-grease fleece that had TONS of grease still in it even after a washing. It came out cleaner than it was, I think, but I still put it through two more hot washes just to be sure.

So the jury is still out. I still have my vat; Judith Mackensie says to keep reusing it until it's "too thick to swim in and too thin to plow." I won't have another fleece for a while, as I would like to process the three I have before I get another. I just bought a drum carder. Should help!


Different is good. ~Matthew Hoover
Kade1301 Posted - 06/25/2014 : 02:41:57 AM
And - what happened? I tried the fermented suint method last year and I regret very much ever having heard of it! Yes, it was nice to have a few pounds of fibre ready for dying practically without any work, but then I couldn't get the smell out! Not by rinsing, not by dying with lots of vinegar, not by washing, and washing some more. Plus the stench is so all pervading that the whole room stinks if I open a bag of this fibre. (Maybe it's not dry enough, but as wool does take up humidity from the air there's not much to do about it).

This stinky wool is the greasy one from starting the vat. I then tried some low-grease wool, but can't remember what has become of it. The mohair went from the vat straight onto the muck heap.

Now if I lived in the desert I might reconsider (or maybe I'd spin without washing at all - raw wool smells much better than the one from my vat), but where I live water is not all that precious!

Have fun! Klara
robinstephanie Posted - 04/09/2014 : 6:59:20 PM
Less than three days until I open the vat!


Different is good. ~Matthew Hoover
robinstephanie Posted - 04/09/2014 : 6:46:44 PM
Ooh, yeah, sorry about the dental implants, yikes. Sounds like it's been a time of setbacks. I always say I enjoy anticipation, so anticipate the heck out of that wheel, Donna! Seriously, though, wheels are fun, but spindles are pretty great too, and sounds like you're having a good time. Your milk fiber/merino sounds really interesting. I wonder if they will take up the dye differently. I bet it will look really cool!

Glad your neighbor is healing up. Falls are scary.


Different is good. ~Matthew Hoover
ikkivan Posted - 04/09/2014 : 09:27:26 AM
Yes, my neighbor has begun work on the wheel, but had a set-back when he fractured his wrist in a fall; it's healed enough, though, that he's doing a bit of work with it again.

As for buying a wheel, that is still in my plans although put off for awhile. I, uh, bummer, am in the process of getting two dental implants ... totally an unexpected budget crisis! So right now, my spindles are staying busy. I'm currently spinning some thick-&-thin singles, one from milk fiber and the other from merino (both undyed); I plan to ply those together and then ask my daughter to dye the finished yarn for me. She has worked as an assistant to an indie dyer and is "into" that.

Oh, well, you know the old saying: life is what happens when you are making other plans!

Donna, with intentions always bigger than her available time. (OkieDokieKnitter on Ravelry)
robinstephanie Posted - 04/09/2014 : 08:40:02 AM
Yes, exactly, less time with subsequent fleeces because the vat is already primed. Sourdough starter, hahaha!

And yeah, it just fascinates me too. I started spinning because, "hell, I was at a party, sure, I'll try that" and my teacher and I ended up closing the party down. The sun was down, we could barely see, they had to kick us out...

That was three years ago. Now I'm helping at shearings and processing raw fleece. When you say, "anything can happen" it's SO true! If I could quit my job and play with fiber for a living, I would do it.

You the woman whose neighbor was going to make her a wheel, right? And you eventually planned to buy one and he'll still make one, right? How's that coming along?


Different is good. ~Matthew Hoover
ikkivan Posted - 04/05/2014 : 12:54:13 PM
Aha ... so, if you use it over and over, will the process take less time later on because there is more, uh, "stuff" in it to get it all working? I'm thinking sourdough starter here (ha).

All this fiber information just fascinates me. I'm only into spindling (spinning wheel soon, I hope) right now from prepared fiber, but anything can happen!

Donna, with intentions always bigger than her available time. (OkieDokieKnitter on Ravelry)
robinstephanie Posted - 04/05/2014 : 10:32:09 AM
Donna, it's helpful to start the vat with a high-grease fleece, as it's the grease that contains the organic components that get the whole fermentation started. After that, you can use it for low-grease fleeces, [eta:oops, meant "or"] nor high, or whatever. You just keep re-using the vat, over and over. You can start it with a low-grease fleece, but as Shelia mentioned, it takes longer to get the vat going.


Different is good. ~Matthew Hoover
ikkivan Posted - 04/05/2014 : 10:01:12 AM
Question here: several sites on which I read about this method said it was developed for low-grease breeds, but you are using a fleece with lots of lanolin. Are some "explanations" giving the wrong info? I'm curious ...??? I am seeing blogs that tell about using this for a variety of fleeces.

Donna, with intentions always bigger than her available time. (OkieDokieKnitter on Ravelry)
robinstephanie Posted - 04/05/2014 : 09:27:29 AM
Donna and Azblue, one woman had some kind larvae in her vat. I don't think it's common, but I'd like to avoid it. I mean, fermented stinky fleece, sure, but larvae? Ewwww.

I taped plastic over the mouth of the vat, so it should be ok and I hope those are not famous last words. It smelled more strongly sheepy/barnyard, but really, that's an improvement. I love that smell. I suppose it hasn't really started to ferment yet. I gather that's when the real smell starts.

There's a ton of info if you google "fermented suint." You use rain water because municipal water supplies tend to have unknown mineral content that can ruin the fleece. They precipitate out of the water, onto the fleece, and it's like scurf: impossible to get out. Distilled water won't work either, can't remember why.

Shelia, a ha! I should have known you would have tried this. How did you know it wasn't working as quickly as expected, and how did you know when to take it out? I'm not sure what's going to happen with this Cormo. Definitely a high grease breed, but only a three pound hogget fleece, so I'm guessing at ten days in the vat.

Your snow experiment is interesting. Definitely less work intensive than the vat, even though it's fun work. I'm kind of surprised it didn't get scavenged by creatures. Imagine the happy mouse with the fleece-lined nest!

And YES, I am going to BSG this year, for the first time in three years. I'm excited to go back. It's where I learned to spin for the first time ever, at the Pie and Beer party. I registered for Sarah Andersen's spinning class this morning.


Different is good. ~Matthew Hoover
ikkivan Posted - 04/05/2014 : 07:15:56 AM
Interesting ... something new for me to research and read about!

Robinsteph, can you put mosquito netting or something like that over your vat (or will the smell alone keep mosquitoes away)? That would be my primary worry here in (also very dry) SW OK.

Donna, with intentions always bigger than her available time. (OkieDokieKnitter on Ravelry)
Shelia Posted - 04/05/2014 : 07:08:46 AM
Yes, and yes! It works, though it took longer than expected, maybe because I was working with a lower-grease sheep breed, with less to get the fermentation going well. It reeked, as expected, but since I did it out in the shed we use to park the tractor and trailers II didn't have to smell it much.

In my fleece experimenting phase I also tried the method of laying a fleece out on tall bushes and leaving it over the winter. We happened to get a couple of snowstorms that year (don't know how it would work with just the normal rain) and by late spring that targhee fleece was lovely, white and clean with just enough lanolin left in to be soft.

Good luck (and if you go to BSG again get in touch, I'm there trailer camping every year).

ravelry name - sheliaknits
azblueskies Posted - 04/04/2014 : 12:24:45 PM
Please..more info. (Edited: Should have Googled I'm off to read all about this new-to-me method! Edited again: Wigglers???? If the smell didn't put me off, wigglers would!) You gather rain water and then let the fleece ferment for a week? Do you add anything to the rainwater?

This method might not be practical for Arizona since we seldom get rain (would have to time it just right for monsoons and then we'd have an over abundance), but I'm curious. Thanks!

Reminder to myself: PROVISIONAL cast on for EVERYTHING except toe-up socks.

Knitter's Review Forums © 2001-2015 Knitter's Review Go To Top Of Page
This page was generated in 0.16 seconds. Snitz Forums 2000
line This week's bandwidth
kindly brought to you by

and by knitters like you.
How can I sponsor?

line subscribe to Knitter's Reviwe