Where do you get your fiber? Luckily for us, we raise our own Angora goats, the source of the fiber known as Mohair. Not to be confused with Angora fiber which comes from cute fluffy bunnies! If you don’t happen to have your own source there are places all over that you can find it. Just do some web searches on google, try ‘raw mohair for sale’.
Shearing the Possibilities
Well if you are like us and raising your own fiber animals, you have get the fiber off the animals. Luckily this is a fairly painless process if you know what you’re doing, yeah so that rules me out. I tried shearing once, its not as easy as it looks. So I opted to hire someone to come shear for me. If you are in the Texas/Oklahoma/Louisiana area check these ladies on Facebook: Right Choice Shearing. When I tried shearing it took me almost if not more than 2 hours a goat! These ladies did 4 goats in less than an hour!
Preparing the Fiber
Once you have the fleece, you need to do a few things to it before you wash it. First you have to skirt the fleece. This involves laying the fleece out flat somewhere, picking and discarding all the badly soiled and extremely matted parts of the fleece. Once the fleece is skirted its time to pick out all the VM (vegetable matter, i.e. pieces of hay, grass etc.). I like to fluff the fleece as I pick through it. I pull small pieces of the fleece off and work out the VM and shake the hunk to get some of the dirt out. This will help in the washing process. Also you will not get all the VM out, but not to worry when you do the carding that will help remove more of it.
Washing the Fiber
This part has been the most elusive to find good information on. Most of the articles I would find on washing mohair were written by folks who I believed basically adapted the process for washing wool. Which wool has lanolin, mohair does not. Which means you can essentially wash it in cold water if you want. Me, I prefer to wash the mohair in tap hot water.
First I fill the container up with hot water, add some of the blue dawn dish soap until the water feels slimy, then add a glug of simple green. Place the fiber in small mesh laundry bag. Submerse the bag of fiber into the water. I will take and sort of gently press water through the fiber. Then let it sit for about an hour. After the hour remove the bag and gently squeeze the excess water out. Rinse out the container and fill it back up with tap hot water. Place the fiber back into the water and again gently agitate it for a second. Continue this last step until the water stays clear. Lastly layout a towel and remove the fiber from the water, squeeze out the excess water and then spread the fiber out on the towel to dry. I like to take the fiber as it’s drying and pull it a part and fluff it.
Carding the Fiber
Now that the fiber is dry, it is dry right? Its time to card it. Though with mohair you can spin straight from the lock if you wish. I prefer to card it since most of the mohair has matted a little bit. Also this helps to get rid of and loosen some of the still trapped VM and dirt. Now depending on your budget you can either hand card (very exhausting and long process). Hand cards will run about $80+ for a set of fine hand cards. If you have a bigger budget you can get your self a drum carder (BrotherDrumCarders are fairly reasonable and priced well)! If you are going to be processing a lot of fiber this would be the way to go. For our process we run the mohair through the drum carder 3-4 times, peeling the fiber from the drum and pulling it apart and fluffing it, then running back through the carder.
Now you should have nice bat of fiber that you can take and do something with it. We will discuss the options in the next part of this article.
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