Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Fleece, Fiber & Fuzziness

 


I've still got quite a yarn habit. The top photo is some Mohair fleece that has resisted all my efforts to clean it. You might be able to tell that it is almost clean, the ends are fluffy and everything is great...right to the cut end.

What I'm looking to create is more of the bottom photo. Soft yarn in nice colors that spins like a dream.

Not gonna happen with the Mohair, as far as I can tell. The skin-side is stuck together with something that acts like glue. Since this is goat hair, it's not lanolin, which is actually good to have in a fleece. 

There are two schools of thought on washing goat hair. One is LOTS of hot water, but don't touch the fiber because it will felt in a heartbeat. Heavy use of Dawn detergent is recommended. Some people say borax, some say not to use borax.

I've tried hot water & detergent. I've tried cold water & detergent. I've tried cold water & borax and a vinegar rinse. I've tried cold water & detergent soaked for 24 hours. I've tried hot water, detergent, borax & rinsing. I've tied epsom salts, which worked better than plain detergent. Hot water must be kept hot, which makes rinsing a challenge. 

Today, I soaked a big batch of Mohair in a dye bath and a bit of vinegar. I cooked the whole thing in a crock pot for 4 hours. I added green, blue and yellow dye to the pot. The blue vanished, it ether didn't take or it mixed instantly with the yellow, because there's no sign of it.

I've been fussing with this mohair for a week. I also washed two batches of burgundy suri alpaca that came out really nice. So I opened up a bag of Grumpy's fleece and washed a batch of alpaca today. 

I've got very little Mohair and a BUNCH of alpaca fleece. So I've decided to just let the goat fleece soak in it's own 'brine' of potassium. The process is called Suint Fermentation. The link is to one of the better websites on the process. 

I haven't got a greasy sheep fleece to kick start this mess. So I bought some potassium pills to kick start the process. So far it looks like it's working. 

We've got a run of nice weather. I'm allowing the fleece air dry in the back yard. All my washing stuff is set up back there, and the fleece washing project is coming along nicely. 

Tomorrow I collect a few gallons of rain water for the Suint Vat and I'll let that ferment in the back for a week or two. Eventually, I hear tell, the fleece will produce the microbes needed to get the sticky stuff out of the fleece. 

Meanwhile, the stuff I dyed today will be come a crude yarn with tales and stuff sticking out. Like the orange yarn below. 


We'll see if it works or not. 

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Yarn Ala' Llama

100% Alpaca, dyed with Koolade

Jacob wool, dyed and plain

A peek at the stash

Left to right - Alpaca in yellow & green, wool alpaca blend, llama dyed with cherry Koolade, natural wool in brown

It's time to celebrate something fun and festive...my yarn! I've been spinning, because it relieve stress and experimenting with Koolade dyes.

There's citric acid in the yarn, I get a Koolade aftertaste when I knit. It's kinda creepy, really, to taste Koolade for hours after you put the yarn down. I didn't lick the yarn, or my fingers. It gets into your pores. Makes me glad I didn't use any harsh chemicals to dye the yarn.

Still the colors are bright and cheery. They are likely to be fairly close together when you dye in batches. (One package of Koolade per ounce of yarn.)

If you want to learn more about dyeing yarn with Koolade start here.

I'm currently working on a hat (of course) and might try a set of fingerless mittens, with the green and yellow alpaca. I loved my stumpy-looking llama wool mittens from two years a go. I might give that another try,