One of the things important to complete before winter is cleaning and storing your wool. The first steps for wool processing are shearing it from the animal and once it's off, skirting or removing the filthiest parts of the wool from what you'll retain. This year we have over 20 lbs of alpaca fiber most from a friend that has asked us to clean, spin and knit/crochet into gifts for her family. Fiber prep from animals that enjoy rolling in the dirt and rustling through bushes can be a lengthy task and our first step is to remove as much of that dust, dirt, vegetation and second cuts (those shorter pieces that are accidentally cut twice and too short to use) from the fiber before we wash it.
We've had questions regarding accessories for angora care. Today, while grooming 'Coal' we thought it would be great to show what we use!
First we'll introduce 'Coal', he is a beautiful English Angora with a lot to offer. His coat is dense, fine fibered and he joined our rabbitry from a very colorful litter in northern Washington where his Dad took top local awards. He's fathered his first litter and we hope to have a colorful result.
As we're harvesting more wools and having the short heat wave I thought to capitalize on the quick drying time and dye up some angora fiber, fine sheep wools and over dye some yarn! Over dyeing simply means your covering up the old dyes with another color you prefer. The deep purple and charcoal blend hand spun yarn used to be a washed red that I did a while ago. I really like how the purple took to the fiber.
I draped a bit of the violet dyed Angora that is showing more of a blue in that batch. That bright green and yellow is German Angora as well. I actually over dyed a black wool so you will see traces of that black as it is combed out.
You can see some more angora done in salmon and teal on the fine sheep's wool - but I also dyed some angora with the residual teal in the dye bath... Don't worry a bit about how it all looks rather clumpy while hanging. It did not felt. It spreads readily with a little work of the hands, it's just easier to dry with what I have and I keep spreading it and turning it to keep it drying on all sides.
I took what used to be a charcoal and white blend wool yarn and turned it into 'Forest Moss'...It's harder to see the variation in the green tones, but I LOVE it. You can also see that the bluish angora actually does have some lilac in it on this side of the rack.
This was a pleasant, productive activity during the early summer heat and I really enjoy the bright colors hanging in the house. It brings a smile to my face and is a unique way of bringing in the colors of spring grasses, flowers and blue skies...
Have you considered a project with your fibers lately?
How do you think you'd use these fibers and colors in a project?
What colors do you have yet to try?
Feel free to share your creative ideas!
She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands Proverbs 31: 13
The weather has been either pouring sheets of rain or blasting heat. It doesn't make it easy for shearing plans. We've had to put off shearing for a couple of weekends now because of rain then the heat comes on in the week and we finally got to the point where we said - we'll just have to do it when we can - with what we have, scissors. All of our shears are out for sharpening, of course!
It seems 'Jack' has decided he only feels comfortable with 'Tech' doing the semi-shearing here. The poor guy is a rich, beautiful black with a TON of dense fiber on him. Remember alpaca is 4 times warmer than wool so he is actually hotter than the sheep! Armed with a pair of craft scissors, 'Tech' was quite pleased Jack is so comfortable with only him. Mom sheared the two Giant angora rabbits (not seen here) - they were happy and got to romp in the garden afterward for a treat - they didn't want to move around much due to the heat - even after their coat was off. They liked the carrot pieces much better!
They are all enjoying a small patch of extra long salad that they've quickly grazed. Limiting them to new, small paddocks every day is making quick work of this out-of-control yard that will be naturally fertilized and growing even better after they move along. Behind Tech, I hope you can see the length compared to what they have grazed. The variety in their diets is only improving their rumen function and enabling them to uptake a greater variety of minerals. Sometimes they like to graze together, sometimes we have the alpacas in first or last and the sheep at another time...
If you haven't learned about the benefits of mob grazing - take a look at what the Salatin family shares through their farming experiences at Polyface Farms.
He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth. Psalms 104:14
This is our journey.