Sweaters, warm socks, and cozy blankets are all necessary for those who live in cold weather, but they can be expensive to buy and not always of great quality. If you own fiber goats, like Angoras, you may be able to transform their wool into your own exquisite yarn. Spinning yarn is a great way to become more self-reliant since it produces the raw material necessary to make all kinds of warm wearables. Extra yarn can be sold or traded in exchange for goat food, and it requires no treatment with harsh commercial chemicals.
Tools Needed for Making Yarn
Yarn production has been around for thousands of years, and the main method of making it hasn't changed much since the Middle Ages. There is some special equipment necessary, but it's not expensive or complex. Wool must be carded or combed before it can be spun, so hand carders or paddle combs are highly recommended to speed up production. Spinning the fiber into yarn will require a spinning wheel or drop spindle. A drop spindle is a small, affordable alternative for those who may not have the money or space for a spinning wheel.
Once the goats have been sheared, their hair will need to be washed and boiled to remove grease, dirt, and any other bits of debris. After a wash and dry, the fiber is carded or combed. These processes help mix and align the fibers into long swatches of material called roving. The roving can then be spun into yarn.
Tutorials and Resources
Learning to spin yarn and knit your own clothing is a process, and there’s lots of new information, methods, and styles to discover. To help you along, we’ve compiled a few of our favorite resources for getting started with spinning yarn and knitting. It may seem intimidating, but don’t give up. With a little practice, these techniques will become second nature to you.
- Instructions for Washing Wool Fibers at Home: Many spinners use a large container or tub to wash their fibers, but there is a way to do it with a mechanical washing machine. This checklist details the process and provides a comparison with commercial fiber-cleaning.
- Spinning Wool (PDF): In this pamphlet, you’ll learn how to tease, comb, and spin fibers into yarn. Instructions for the spinning wheel and spindle methods are provided.
- Spinning Yarn With a Drop Spindle (PDF): A drop spindle is a great way to spin yarn while on the go, thanks to its small size and easy portability. The basic steps of spinning with a drop spindle are covered in this informational handout.
- How to Make Mohair Yarn (PDF): Mohair is the name for the hair of an Angora goat. The production process is very similar to that of wool with the exception of determining the best time to shear a goat.
- The 4-H Knitting Handbook (PDF): There are plenty of patterns to be found online and in books, but you have to know the basic stitches first. This handbook covers everything you need to know about knitting, including how to get started, and it even has a few free patterns for you to practice.