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Posts Tagged ‘mohair’

A week at the Spinnery

Saturday, May 3rd, 2014

Last week we started working on the Natural Dark color of both our Simply Fine and our Green Mountain Green yarns.  As different as these yarns appear to be in structure, they are identical in fiber content, so they can be created congruently for much of the production process. Almost like making cupcakes and a cake at the same time, we start with the same “batter”.

skeins

The ingredients for this batch of yarn includes roughly 53 pounds of fine wool with about 35 pounds of first shearing kid mohair.  To put those numbers into perspective, we estimate that a typical wool fleece weighs about seven pounds.  After cleaning and processing, we’ll end up with roughly 60 pounds of finished yarn.

The two fibers are blended by our picker and carder.  You can see it here going through our carder on the 21st.  The fibers for this yarn are GREENSPUN; which means that here at the carding stage, our special blend of organic vegetable oil and water is added to the fiber to smooth its progress through the machine.

carding

The wool we use for these yarns is a combination of fleeces from Rambouillet and Targhee sheep that are raised in Ohio and along the high plains of Montana, Wyoming, and North and South Dakota.

The soft kid mohair comes to us from Joe David Ross in Sonora Texas.  He has supplied the Spinnery with wonderful mohair fiber for almost 30 years. (You can learn more about him and the mohair he supplies us with here).

spinning

Here you can see the roving set up on the spinning machine a few days later.  The fiber will be spun with tension to create plies that will be strong enough to knit or crochet with.

At this point the bobbins of yarn are rolled into our steambox for a three hour “sauna” that will set the twist.

 

steamed

And now the two yarns are separated to follow different paths.  The plies for our Green Mountain Green yarn are sent to the plying machine.  Here two plies will be spun together (in the opposite direction) to create the 2-ply yarn that we love.  The Simply Fine is a single ply yarn and so is ready for skeining.

gmg skeining

Here you can see the two-ply Green Mountain Green bobbins lined up on the skeining machine where we’ll wind off 120 yard hanks to be twisted into beautiful skeins.  The Simply fine bobbins are wound into skeins of about 450 yards.

The skeins are now ready for a gentle washing with mild soap which will preserve the natural sheen and resilience of the yarn. Once it has dried, it is ready to be twisted into shape and labeled for sale.  From start to finish, this batch took just about a week to produce.  We can’t wait to see what becomes of it next!

Spotlight on Capricorn Yarn

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

Photo by GMS

Capricorn, our beautiful bulky weight yarn, is the result of an effort to find a wider use for an often overlooked ingredient: the fleece of mature angora goats. Like humans, angora goats’ hair becomes thicker and coarser as the animal ages. The super-soft luxury of Green Mountain Green and Simply Fine comes from kid mohair, the first clip from baby goats under 1 year old.  Yearling and second–year mohair is coarser, but also very shiny. This quality adds to the fluff and shine of yarns like Mountain Mohair.

 

Photo by Marti Stone

Goats three years old and older are valuable as breeding stock but Mohair breeders have a more difficult time finding a market for the fiber. Older mohair is used for carpet yarns and wig making (for dolls and humans) because of its shine, durability, and beautiful dye absorption. The Spinnery began to work on a product that uses older mohair so that our small angora farmers would be able to have an additional market for their fibers.

The creation of Capricorn took a bit of trial and error. First we sorted through our stock of “grade B and C” mohair looking for the softest, shiniest fibers. We wanted to make a bulky yarn that was pleasantly fluffy but not too heavy, hairy, scratchy or shedding. After creating several test batches of yarn we came up with a blend of 35% mature mohair/65% fine American wool. Our first batch of pale grey sold out at Vogue Knitting Live in New York in January 2012. We now offer the yarn in three natural colors and a variety of dyed colors by Melissa Johnson.

Capricloak & Sweet Pea Coat samples Photo by GMS

The most popular pattern for Capricorn has been the Capricloak by Maureen Clark .  The new Capricorn Caps and Steps and Ladders hats by Melissa Johnson are warm and quick knits for winter gifts. Other Spinnery patterns that would work up well in Capricorn include the Shawl Collar Snuggly and Spanish Tunic.  Patterns from other sources that are great possibilities include the Sweet Pea Coat by Kate Gilbert in the Twist Collective and the Maku Wrap Cardi by Kyoko Nakayoshi from Cotton and Cloud.

Have you knit with Capricorn yet? We’d love to hear about it! Please join us in our Ravelry group or Facebook page – we love to see your photos and are here for questions you might have!

Mohair & Joe David Ross

Monday, June 11th, 2012

Joe David Ross has supplied GMS with mohair since the mid 1980s. We met him through local farmer Deb Pamplin, a mohair grower in Wethersfield, Vermont. Deb had introduced the Spinnery to the possibilities of mohair when she started bringing fleeces to the Spinnery for processing.

Goat of fine fibre farm, Wethersfield, VT Photo by Marti Stone

 

 

Soon after, as we developed Mountain Mohair yarn, we soon outgrew our local supply.  Joe David became our main source for superior quality yearling mohair. The Spinnery has always been able to depend on the Ross Ranch in Sonora, Texas for fibers that meet our specifications, and Joe David goes the extra mile to make sure all the fiber he sends is well prepared to meet our needs.

The soft, fuzzy halo of our popular Mountain Mohair is the result of its mohair content. Over the years, many customers asked, “What’s a mo?” Mohair comes from the fleece of the Angora goat, an animal prized through the ages for its luxurious fiber. Angora goats took their name from the ancient Turkish city of Ankara; the term “mohair” apparently derives from the Arabic, mukhayya, which means “cloth of bright hair from a goat”. The Turks thought so highly of these special goats that none were exported until the sixteenth century. The first exports landed in Spain and France and none went to America until 1849.

 

 

Goats of fine fibre farm, Wethersfield, VT Photo by Marti Stone

Today, small flocks of Angora goats are found in New England and throughout the U.S., but 90% of American mohair comes from Texas, where the dry temperate climate is very suitable for the goats. The animals are generally sheared twice a year and yield on overage a three-pound fleece. Fiber of the youngest goats (kid mohair) is the softest; the fiber becomes coarser as the animal ages.

In 1992 we introduced Green Mountain Green, a blend of kid mohair and fine wool processed without petroleum. Again, Joe David was the source for the luxuriously soft kid mohair that makes the yarn so special. Today we have added Simply Fine and Sock Art Meadow to our products that include kid mohair.  To create these yarns and Mountain Mohair, we use about 2,000 pounds of mohair a year. That is equal to the fleece of about 600 goats! We are grateful to Joe David and his network of Texas mohair producers that are able to continue to offer us superior materials for our yarns.

 

We love to see your creations with our yarns – please share them with other Facebook fans or join our Ravelry group!

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