Monday, November 5, 2007

Recipe for Sheep Dip

Here's a delightful recipe that some of you might want to try. It's not to everyone's taste, but if you're one of the hardier souls and love the thought of working with wool straight from the sheep, you'll find that the rewards are well worth the effort.

To begin, you'll need to choose which variety of sheep dip you'd like to make. OK, to be fair, there really is only one kind of dip: water that's chock full of vegetative matter and other "stuff." I don't recommend getting it on your hands, much less taking it internally. Just a feeble attempt at humor. So, back to business ...

I had a hard time choosing a few weeks back. My father-in-law brought five -- count 'em -- five bags of wool. Free. All for me.

They were given to him by one of his church buddies, whose daughter was going out of the sheep business and was happy to find a good home for her fleeces. I have no idea what breed her sheep were, but the fleeces are all in great shape. There are 2 white, 2 gray, and one dark brown.

Please observe a moment of silence in tribute to my in-laws who drove 6 hours (VA to DE) with those pungent passengers just for me. Yep, they're good people all right.

I decided to go with a one of the white ones first because the difference between before and after is usually a wonderful surprise. Here we see a chunk of raw fleece stewing in a large bucket of hot water and lemon dish soap. Mmm! You can almost smell the barnyard from here, can't you? This, then, is the real deal: sheep dip in its purest state.
And another soaking ...
And a couple more soakings, each in hot water and dish soap, each just begging to be swished and sloshed around that bucket. Be warned, though, that if you harrass the fleece, you'll end up with a lump of felt.
When it's time to dry the fleece, I recommend using a friendly tree.
Here's a before and after. See how tasty sheep dip can be? It's not so much the work and the smell. It's the reward of seeing your fleece go from a nasty, greasy mess to clean, spongy woolly goodness. Fiberrrrrific!
In our next exciting episode, we'll take a look at carding the wool and, if I have the time and energy to fight with Blogger, spinning.

Note: If any of you know how to make uploading and positioning images faster and less painful, please let me know!


  1. Hey Laurel, this is fun! I am going to watch!
    You know there's a whiskey available called Sheep Dip! Story goes the men hid the whiskey in barrels marked "sheep dip" on their farms so they wouldn't get caught making brew! Sheep dip in the true sense is a medicated drench for sheep to rid them of external parasites. Clever boys!

  2. Ha! Clever is right! Wonder what would happen if you drenched a sheep in whiskey, not that I'm suggesting it ... that would be a dang expensive dip!

    And I have to share ... my favorite beverage name is "Arrogant Bastard Ale." I have an empty bottle that I brought back from my trip this summer to CA and smile every time I see it.