Guess you’re wondering why we’d start off the page about yarn with a picture of a lamb. That’s just it, THAT’S where the yarn STARTS. Each spring a new batch of yarn is started when our ewes and angora nannies lamb and kid. The ever vigilant mothers tend their new subjects with the greatest of care. We may help a bit from time to time but they are the real “stars”.
The first shearing for the Angora kids arrives 6 months later with the “harvest” of the first clip mohair crop. This fiber is the finest in diameter(micron) and softest they will ever produce and is known in the industry as first clip kid. For the lambs, first shearing comes when they are 12 months old. The fleece is called a hogget fleece – a term synonymous with lamb’s wool. These two clips – first clip kid and lamb’s wool – are the sole ingredients in our Very Special Yarn (VSY)™ line.
But the kids and lambs are not the only ones growing fiber. All of our adult animals are producing fine fiber as well. We are very proud to say that the vast majority of our breeding Angora nannies, bucks and yearling stock, all produce kid grade mohair. Our sheep are fine wool sheep – Cormo and Cormo crosses for Natural Color. The grade refers, again, to a certain diameter or micron range. Fine wool is “next to the skin” soft. Kid hair is defined as having a micron count of less than 30. Higher than 30 micron numbers are considered responsible for causing “itch” from fiber. Of course that parameter is different for each individual person but for most folks less than 30 microns = no itch.
Once the fiber is harvested or sheared, we carefully skirt the fleeces, we weigh each one and take notes regarding it’s qualities — staple length, crimp, fineness, luster, strength. Fleeces are then hand selected for inclusion in our yarns and rovings. We are strict in our criteria. Nothing but the best will do. Thankfully our partners in this process — the sheep and goats — oblige. Once the fiber selection is made, it’s off to our mill where the fleece is washed, opened, blended, carded, pin drafted, spun, plyed, skeined, dyed, labeled and finally it arrives at a Fiber Festival or in our on-line store for purchase. So from start to finish, growing as fleece on the animal to a skein of yarn in your hand, more than one year’s time has elapsed.
All of our yarn lines other than VSY :
- 70-30 Kid/Cormo
- 50-50 Kid/Cormo
- 100% Kid
- 100% Wool
contain kid grade mohair and/or fine wool.
Availability of our yarn is totally dependent on the growth of fiber by our sheep and goats. Angora goats require approximately 6 months to grow a fleece for shearing, fine wool sheep are sheared every 12 months or once a year. So our yarn is a limited production. Once we have used the fiber from a given year, we have to wait until the next shearing to spin more yarn. This is an important aspect that yarn customers need to understand. While other yarn retailers, hand dyers or hand painters can order more yarn from their supplier by picking up a telephone and placing an order, because we are the complete producer start to finish, we must first give the animals the time needed to grow the fiber before we are able to spin more yarn ! Take home message – make sure you order enough yarn to complete your project.
Word to the Wise: The best selection of yarn is always at the festivals and shows. Our online catalog only showcases a select few yarns and other products. Come visit us at a market, show or festival!