Sunday, January 09, 2011

Mohair Spinning Philosophy and Basket Blends

Two skeins of Basket Blend Yarn
I love to spin mohair. The silky softness pleases both my hands and my eyes. It is a very sensual fiber.
And I love my little fluffy, floppy-eared goats who grow mohair. My colored angora goats seem to combine the best characteristics of the dairy goats that I've loved most of my life and the sheeps that keep me entertained while growing useful wool. And they grow that divine fiber -mohair.

I spin my mohair raw, from the lock, unwashed and often, uncarded. The prime parts of the fleece, off the side, I just spin directly from the pillowcase, where they've been stored since shearing. Sometimes the fleeces are stored for a day before I start spinning, other times it's four months, but I do spin almost all of my 10 mohair fleeces in the 6 months between shearing. Did I mention that I love to spin mohair.

Spinning mohair raw gives me a yarn that varies in thickness and has little tufts and nubs and tails. This makes  a wonderful, textured fabric when I weave with my handspun. It also creates fun, one-of-a-kind hats and scarves and shawls and wraps and blanket when I crochet with it.

After I spin each skein, I wash it in the sink. I rinse each skein in warm water and then wash them with soap. I then rinse them several times, usually once with vinegar water and sometimes I add creme rinse to the last rinse bath, depending on whether or not I plan to dye the skeins. The ones I am going to dye, I don't use creme rinse, because it affect how well the dye takes up.

I demo spinning frequently. During the summer, I do spinning demos several times a week. I carry my current fleece in a big grapevine basket, woven by Grapevine Betty who lives up on Highway 9 outside of Mountain View. I spin up all the best parts of one fleece before I get out the pillow case that has the next fleece. Or, sometimes I get bored spinning one fleece, so I'll go grab another with much of the original fleece still in the basket. After a few months, there is an interesting mix of mohair curls in my grapevine basket.

At some point, either because I don't have enough prime parts of a fleece left in the basket or because I want to empty it out, I start carding all the bits left in the basket together and spinning them. These are my "Basket Blends Yarns". They are 100% mohair all grown here on our farm. Our flock is mostly grey, in different shades. A few of them have white spots and Tillie is all white. Bramble and Frappucino are oatmeal colored with a steely highlight. So the undyed Basket Blends are grey/white/silver. While they have some kid mohair in them, they also have older does hair, however it is still soft to the touch mohair.

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