I wash a lot of fleece here in the fiber studio. With a large herd of alpacas, the annual clip ranges from 800 to 1,000 pounds of fleece each year. In order to process that much fleece, there are obvious steps to be taken in order to make final, high-quality end products. Washing the fleece is one of those necessary steps. Easy enough to accomplish, but getting large volumes of fleece dried after the wash has always been one of the most challenging aspects of production. It’s best for the fleece to be able to air dry in a way that it does not become disrupted during the drying stage. It is very lightweight and tends to blow all over the room if not dried correctly.
I have always been forced to lay the fleece out on special tables designed with netting or wire so the airflow around the table would enhance drying. But that takes up an enormous amount of floor space even in a large space and it takes FOREVER to dry an entire fleece, especially during the winter and colder temperatures.
I recently visited the local IKEA showroom, looking for a few new kitchen storage solutions. While walking through the showroom, I located the best fleece drying racks ever! IKEA swears these racks are best suited for use in a bedroom closet but that notion flew right out the window the instant I saw them. I bought several and took them home to try. They worked so well that I purchased more. I can now wash an entire fleece then place it in one of the storage racks to air dry. An entire fleece is dry in less than 24 hours, which speeds up production time tremendously. Talk about the find of the year!
If you visit IKEA or browse the IKEA online catalog, ask for the ALGOT storage system with 6 mesh baskets. It is article number 499.034.70. They are relatively inexpensive, easy to assemble and a tremendous asset for any fiber-holic’s studio production.