Start Spinning: Everything You Need to Know to Make Great Yarn
What does spinning yarn have to do with gardening? Alright, this isn't really a garden topic, but the goats are on the farm producing manure to be turned into compost for the garden. They also grow fiber which needs to be used. Plus, selling handspun yarn and yarn products can be a profitable addition to a small farm or backyard enterprise.
Plus, what the heck else is there to do in the winter? Right! (Thanks to www.ibabuzz.com for the photo.)
So we will digress for a little while. . .
Here is a picture of Maizie's mohair. Notice the luster and crimp (waves).
Our girls have heavy but soft fleeces. Part of it is genetics and part is their feed. They eat excellent quality 2nd cut hay and get a handful of alfalfa every now. In the morning, they have 1/3 cup alfalfa pellets, 1/3 cup dried beets, 1 tbsp kelp, and an herbal mixture for general health and to prevent worms. They don't eat any grain, nor should they since they are ruminants. Occasionally, they will get 1/2 apple or a carrot as a treat. Another good thing for them is a clove of garlic every now and again.
The first 3 fleeces from a goat are the most valuable because they are the softest and finest. After that, the fiber is best used blended with wool. We have washed some fleeces by hand but this is time-consuming and requires very hot water. Another option is to send it out to a fiber mill for washing, blending and carding. This product, called roving, is then spun by machine or hand into yarn which is then knit (by machine or hand) into garments. It is a long process but there is nothing quite like wearing a sweater from your own goat or sheep.
In the picture above, there is an example of roving (the cloud-like gray mass on the left) which is 75% mohair and 25% wool, yarn made from that roving, and a scarf knit from 100% mohair - pure luxury!
Start Spinning: Everything You Need to Know to Make Great Yarn, by Maggie Casey, is the best, new book out there on spinning. It is appropriate for the beginner as well as the expert and covers many different types of spinning wheels.
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Posted by Mary Ellen at October 25, 2008 5:00 PM