Raising Animals for Fiber

by: EJ on 06/29/2017
Posted in: Sustainable Living

Deborah Niemann's fully revised and updated Homegrown and Handmade: A Practical Guide to More Self-Reliant Living is now off press and for the last day of our summer sale, we are giving away a free download  of Chapter 20, "Producing from the Home Fiber Flock".  Click here for your copy.

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Felted toy made of wool

If you love the idea of raising fiber animals and knitting but the rest of the production of the fiber does not appeal to you, don’t despair. There are small, family-owned businesses where you can send your fiber for processing, and they will do as much or as little as you want. Services include washing, carding, combing, and even spinning the roving into yarn. We usually do everything ourselves except combing or carding, because it would be the most time consuming for us and it is one of the least expensive services to hire out. It would take me months to turn our washed wool into roving using my pair of hand cards, and I’d probably have some type of repetitive stress injury when I was done. People who have decided to do this professionally, however, have carding machines that can turn 20 Shetlands’ wool into roving in less than one day.

Processing Fiber

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The amount of processing your fiber requires will depend upon how and where your animals lived. Most angora fiber needs no processing at all because bunnies don’t usually get dirty. In fact, some people spin  angora with a bunny sitting in the lap as they pluck the fiber and spin it. Wool, on the other hand, requires a great deal of processing because sheep have lanolin, which attracts and holds dirt. Because wool  requires the most work, I will describe how to process it, but keep in mind that fiber from other animals may not require as much attention.

Read more here....



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