Friday, April 30, 2010

Washing Mohair

First of all, I want to apologize for leaving such a gap between January’s postings and April. My father just recently passed away and there were many things that needed time and attention. He was a good man who was proud of many of the things that are to be written in these entries, so as an honor to him, I will try to keep the words coming. I will also be finishing the knitting series but I have so many things to share with you that are time/date specific that I'd like to get those out first. Things might not come in perfect order, but none the less, I hope you still enjoy what we’ve been doing. On March 20th we sheared the goats for the second time. We shear the goats twice a year, once in September and again in March. Knit and Purl were 11 months for their second shearing. They produced almost 15 lbs in six months. It is a beautiful fiber, with less stains and vegetable matter than last time. It is for sale on our etsy site at both washed in its original curly state or hand carded and rolled into rollags or roving. I thought I would talk a little about the process in which we wash the mohair. So roll up your sleeves and let’s begin. This is the 15 punds of mohair freshly sheared from the girls. We keep it in paper grocery bags because it lets the fiber breath in a sense. The paper is porus and absorbs any dampness from the fiber. You will need: -lingerie bags (I get mine from the Dollar Tree, 3 for a $1) -Dawn dishwashing liquid (this is the same stuff they use on the sea animals that fall victim to oil spills. It's gentle, but cuts through the oil and tannens in the wool. -Hair conditioner -hot, hot water Place a good amount of mohair in each mesh garment bag. Don't fill too ful or the hot water won't be able to get around the wool and loosen the dirt and oils. Zip closed. I wash our mohair in the laundry tub. Place the bags one layer thick add about a 1/4 cup dishwashing liquid and fill the tub with hot, hot water until the bags are somewhat floating. Gently press down with a stick or something so you don't burn your hands. Be sure to work gingerly, as too much agitation of the wool can felt it. The hot water helps break up the tannens, which are the oils that the goats produce throught the year. Soak in soapy water for 30 minutes, then gently press the water out. Fill the tub again with hot clear water (no soap this time) and let soak for 30 minutes. Again press out the water, and fill again, this time with soap. Soak 30 minutes, drain press and fill again with clear waterand repeat the clear water rinse at the 30 minute intervals draining, pressing and re-filling the tub each time until the water runs clear. When this happens add conditioner to the rinse water, let soak and then do one more clear rinse. To break it down it's.. soap rinse soap rinse rinse rinse (till water runs clear) conditioner rinse Zach makes me a drying table by placeing two sawhorses about 3 feet apart, then covers it with chicken wire and clamps it down. Then we bungy cord a flat fan facing down towards the wool to the garage rafters. I spread out the mohair over the chicken wire and run the fan for 12 to 24 hours or until dry. When it's dry it looks like this. White, fluffy and ready to dye, spin, card, felt, make into Santa beards or doll har, I've even heard of people sculpting with it.

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