Friday, 17 December 2010

Weather first, then more interesting stuff!

First of all, yes it's been cold here, and yes, we have had a bit of snow, and here is an iconic picture of one of our Hebridean Ewe Hoggs looking like a sugar dusted christmas cake decoration.

Between them, this lot scoffed an entire bale of hay today.


The Cheviot ram just managed to get into the bottom left of the picture.  He hasn't lost an ounce of condition during tupping and still looks as chunky as he did in November.

Remember the angora goats I saw at Sallies tapestry workshop in Great Bernera the other week?  I've spent ages trying to decide what to do with it - having no experience with mohair whatsoever. 

Anyway, I think I've cracked it.  Here's the recipe for processing angora goat hair.......  First of all, steep it in a solution of Hebridean Soap (I use lemon and eucalyptus liquid soap that Linda makes up for me) and hand-hot water.  Leave it for a few hours - don't agitate it too much in case it felts. 

Then do the same thing again. 

Then use a bit of Merino Lanolin Wash (available from Skyeskins at Waternish, Isle of Skye) and soak in cool water for 30 minutes. 

Take it out, spin the excess water out in a horizontal spin drier (not the sort that's in a front-loader automatic washing machine). 

Stick it all on a towel and let it dry in a warm spot, turning gently every now and again.


At this stage, it must be completely dry before you start picking it or it will tangle and stretch.  It will be lovely and shiny looking now - anything that looks dull or short or bitty can be discarded as it will bring the quality of the whole batch down.  The bobbin below was spun direct from picking - didn't go through the carder at all.  A bit of thick and thin and a few curly bits did find their way in.  Thought it would be more curly but I think that mohair - unlike Wensleydale which is big and bold and right in yer face - is discreet and elegant and very understated but just reeks of class!

Then I hanked it up.  As a single its a tad twisty but taking into account that its got to be washed, re-hanked, dyed and then wound and then used in a shuttle for tapestry, I'm counting on the slight overtwist to even out by the end of the operation.

As a point of interest, the black hanks hanging next to the mohair is some Wensleydale spinning I'm doing for Teoshandspuns at Broadford, Isle of Skye.  So Teo, if you're seeing this - I am doing it, really...

With all this fabby fibre fun indoors we aren't really noticing the snow creeping up outside the front door, but if you are - take extra care and don't venture outside unless you are well-prepared (ie crampons, ice-axe, huskies, fully-provisioned sled and (on a special seasonal note) reindeer). 

4 comments:

Min said...

Angora kids locks are extremely silky and feel fantastic....much warmer than Wensleydale. Your yarn should be gorgeous. Yes, we have reindeer here.....lovely creatures. Merry Christmas, Sheila.

harristweed1 said...

When can we come and see this yarn?

Scalpay Linen said...

Merry Christmas to you too Min. Am really having fun with the mohair - settling into a bit of a rhythm with it, but its been a bit of a job getting the prep right. Hope Sallie likes it - can't wait to see it dyed up....

Scalpay Linen said...

Hi harristweed1. Strictly speaking the mohair belongs to Sallie, but if you're nearby then identify yourself and pop over for a peek!