Washing Wool in the High Atlas

How do Cooperative Ibilou artisans create such fluffy, clean clouds of carded wool for spinning? It all starts with a walk to the river with a bundle of fresh High Atlas sheep wool. You can read more about the washing process and how the wool is spun in my article published in Ply Magazine’s Summer 2020 issue.

Below are some photos and videos that illustrate the process. Please note that High Atlas sheep produce wool that is low in lanolin, so this cold wash method works very well. When I tried this method with some merino wool, which is very high in lanolin, it didn’t work well at all. The lanolin was like velcro – it kept the VM and other debris firmly stuck in the wool.

walking to the river – in the early summer, the river is quite low in some spots

gently opening the locks and placing the wool in a bucket to soak with water

squeezing out the water

beating the soaked wool to break up clumps of dung, dirt, and debris

washing the wool in the flowing water after beating the wool
all of the wool is washed in the river with no soap – the running water pulls unwanted matter away
the washed wool
after drying, the wool is fluffed and pulled apart by hand removing any leftover VM
if there is still too much VM, combs are used to take out the excess – if not, the wool is immediately carded

Other posts related to High Atlas spinning:

Spinning in Morocco’s High Atlas

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