Sunday, January 18, 2015

From Goat To Yarn

This is Bogart. He will be 12 in March. He's basically ancient, sterile, and I'm really surprised he's still around. He was the first buck I ever owned, and I was quite scared of him when I bought him. He was 2 1/2 years old, smaller, and his horns were half the length they are now The lady I bought him from assured me that he was not aggressive, and that Angora bucks are not aggressive in general, but I just couldn't get all those stories about nasty bucks out of my head. So I was very careful, and he was extremely skittish, so he actually wouldn't let me get near him. Then one morning I found him with his leg caught in a old piece of electric fencing. It had formed a slip knot on the end, and I thought how in the world am I going to free him without getting rammed or him getting hurt trying to get away. So a slowly approached him and squatted down by him prepared to bolt if he swung his horns at me. He looked at me with this sad look in his eyes "Please help me, my leg has gone numb."  He just stood there watching me as I loosened the wire, and slipped it off his leg. He had no injuries, just a numb lower leg. When he was free he started to limpingly trot away towards his does. He got about 15 feet away, and then he stopped, turned around, and looked back at me like he was saying "thank you". Then he turned back and joined up with the does. That was when I lost my fear of him.  

Over the years he has mellowed out and is no longer skittish. Anyone can walk right up and pet him. We have never had to worry about children playing in the pasture with him. And boy is he a sucker for fig leaves and oranges, but you have to cut the oranges up for him now. He can no longer bit into them
because he only has 1 whole and 2 half teeth left in the front. Goats and all ruminant animals only have teeth on the bottom in the front of their mouth. They have plenty in the back for chewing their cud, but they only have the set in the front for biting off grass, and scraping bark off tree's. That's why I think its funny how people are always worried they are going to get bit. They can't do any damage if they bite against their gums. 

In all the years I have had Bogart I never used his fiber. He was usually the last animal to get sheared, so he had either gotten matted, or in the Fall he was stinky. Normally I put my goat in a stanchion to shear, but because of his large horns he needs to be laid on the ground to shear with my Mom helping me hold him. This results in his hair being filled with lots of junk, because of where we had to shear him at (wherever we can find shade). One thing you do not want to do is take a goat down in the field with all their pasture mates, because they will all want to take a swing at the down animal while you are working on them. That's just animal behavior. So I usually just tossed his fiber, because I had lots from my does. This last year when we sheared him I was surprised at just how soft his fiber still was, and saved all I could from his sides (the prime), that wasn't full of junk. I finally got around to spinning it, and am extremely happy with how it turned out.
It has soooooo much sheen. I love it. 

I have been reading about dying fiber naturally. This was always something that interested me, but I didn't have the mordants required. Recently I found a new book I love called Harvesting Color: How to Find Plants and Make Natural Dyes by Rebecca Burgess. Some of the fiber was dyed without a mordant. I got to wondering what color our redwood trees would produce, so decided to give it a try. I clipped a bunch of branches with there redwood cones attached and cooked them in a pot of water for 24 hours on the wood stove. Strained it, then added some white alpaca, and white wool. Simmered for several hours and drained, cooled to warm, and washed. It's sort of looked a purplish brown, but when I spun the alpaca it looked more brown. I will save the wool for needle felting.

This is the dyes gone wild Romney fiber I found in my stash all spun up. I am really happy with how it turned out.

I knitted this alpaca scarf as a thank you for our neighbor that lets us keep our goats, and Snooki the cow on their property. Its the first real knitted item I have made. I crocheted a wool hat for the Husband.

It took me a week to make. It had some mistakes, but it was a learning experience.

AND this is a slouchy hat that I made for my Niece Jolie. I spun it from half of the grab bag I had stashed away.

Its made of wool, silk, cotton, tinsel, and some other fibers that I'm not sure of like Cashmere or Pygora or something.



Sarah said...

Bogart looks like a sweet pet. Your spinning is so beautiful and perfect!!

An At Home Daughter said...

Thank you Sarah, that's very sweet, and yes Bogart has become a very sweet pet.
I hope I have got blogger straightened out now so I will get your posts from your blog. It turns out its doing to others also. errrr!


Kris said...

What a sweet old goat. And his fiber is beautiful. So glad you're spinning too! I just knit a cowl for me from the brown Romney I spun. Have fun!

Oh, your header looks great. What's wrong with it?

An At Home Daughter said...

I just saw your lovely post. I love Romney also, but haven't found it to be very soft. I looked up the place that I took the pictures of their display at the Heirloom Expo, and they sell their Romney fleeces for $30 each!! They sell several other breeds also for the same price, and shipping is cheap, but I decided I better wait, because I have to shear our own sheep now. So I will have 5 fleeces to play with. Yay!

Oh yah, the header needs the writing moved to the center, so its not straight across the pictures, but I haven't gotten around to it yet.