Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Cleansing of Wool

So I’m reading The Domestic Manufacturer’s Assistant and Family Directory in the Arts of Weaving and Dying. The book was first published in 1817. It is an interesting read for anyone interested in history and or spinning or weaving. It is nice to have this reference for any demonstration I may perform in the future. There was one section though I fear may not be popular with the public. Let me quote…

“In the first place fill the kettle two thirds full of water and one third of urine, that which is old if you can get it.  You will then heat this liquor as warm as you can bear your hand in for one or 2 seconds without scalding. Then put 5 or 6 pounds of wool loosely into it and keep it turning round for 6 or 8 minutes, or perhaps longer. You may ascertain when it has been in long enough by often squeezing it with your hand, if the grease starts,  and the wool appears loose and clear, it has been a sufficient time.”

Yeah, um, I think I’m going to stick with Dawn dish soap.

It even goes further and says…

“never throw away the liquor, in time of cleansing; unless it should stand for two or three months in the summer without being used.”

Oh, Hell no.

17 comments:

Nancy K. said...

EWWWWWWWWWWW!

You are so stinkin' funny!!!

Courtney said...

Come on...don't you have well preserved urine stored away? You only have to stick your hand in until you can't stand the heat anymore...how hard is that? ~grin~
Imagine wearing that wool! Yuck!

thecrazysheeplady said...

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

YarnKettle said...

I am with you on the Hell No ending.
Whew that had to stink.

Kellie said...

urine was used to whiten hides, the older the better.

I say YUCK!

Milah said...

@ Kellie, I had no idea.

@ Christine, So much for being authentic!

Wendy said...

You should check out Wikipedia. Apparently our Grandparents knew many uses for urine that we wouldn't dream of today:

"In pre-industrial times, urine was used as a cleaning fluid due to its ammonia content."

"Tanners soaked animal skins in urine to remove hair fibers — a necessary step in the preparation of leather."

"Urine has been used in the manufacture of gunpowder."

and
"Urine has often been used as a mordant to help prepare textiles, especially wool, for dyeing. This usage was mentioned in Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry. In Scotland, the process of "walking" (stretching) the tweed is preceded by soaking in urine."

...it's amazing, the things you can find on Wikipedia.
=-)

Karen Patrick said...

Urine? Seriously?

Karen Anne said...

Yeah, seriously. Urine is sterile, wimpy people :-) Not that I've actually used it :-) but that info was stored somewhere in my memory banks.

Wait until drought forces wastewater recycling in the future.

From http://www.pepysdiary.com/p/5345.php:

Urine has a variety of uses in the dying industry. First, it acts as a cleansing agent, removing oils and dirt — especially important in preparing wool for dying. Reportedly, the resultant wool, once dried, is not only much cleaner, but also extraordinarily soft to the touch.

The second use for urine is as an extracting agent. Specifically, certain natural substances, when soaked in stale urine, will yield up a highly valued and highly useable pigmentation. For example, fermenting the lichen orchil in old pee will yield a lovely purple coloration that can then be used to die wool and cotton.

Finally, urine may be used as a dying medium and fixative. Add your coloring agent to the urine, toss in your wool or cotton, let soak, and voila. Interestingly enough, some who’ve experimented with the process say that fresh urine is better for this part of the process — as rotten pee leaves in the fabric a rotton pee odor.

I'm gonna tell Mom! said...

oh GAG.

kim

Historical Ken said...

Hmmm...Does it say anything about cleaning it afterward?

Tombstone Livestock said...

I'm with you Christine, stick to the Dawn soap.

That's kinda like some of the things you find in the book "Housekeeping in Old Virginia"

frugalmom said...

Oh my gosh...okay...this just made me laugh. Too funny!

Evelyn said...

Oh Christine, where is your sense of adventure LOL

Christine said...

It just says rinse with water, Ken. There's no way that doesn't stink!

clairz said...

And I just read recently in the news about urine being used to produce electricity--who knew? I did know that little boys' urine has been used in Scotland (at least in times past) to act as a mordant for the wool used in Harris tweed!

Benita said...

That sure makes me appreciate modern detergents. 1/3rd old Pee? Ewwww!