Many people who like to hand spin their own yarn like to try spinning different fibers. One that many like to try is goat hair, but does it really work?
So can you make yarn out of goat hair? Goat hair is an excellent fiber for spinning yarn. It takes some extensive preparation to get it clean and ready for spinning. A lot of mohair yarns are made from Angora goats and cashmere is often made from different breeds of goats. Some of the most desired fibers are from solid white, gray, or brown goats.
Turning goat hair into yarn can be quite the process to the hair into the best condition for spinning. However, unlike human hair and goat hair fiber, the end result is a very desirable commodity!
How to Turn Goat Hair into Yarn
Step 1: Cleaning Goat the Hair
For obvious reasons, you’ll need to wash the goat hair before doing anything. All the hair should be separated into small bundles and put in mesh bags or laundry bags. This way they can be cleaned without separating so much.
It’s important to maintain the proper pH level in the water so as not to damage the hair. However, you need to clean it to get all the dirt and grease out.
The water should be approximately 145 degrees and the pH level should be between 8 and 9 (if it’s not, add a little baking soda and retest). Once the water is warm enough and balanced, you should mix in about 1/4 cup of Dawn dish soap. This will clean the fibers and act as a degreaser.
Put the bags of goat hair in the sink with your water mixture and allow them to soak for 15 minutes. If the hair feels gummy, you’ll need to continue soaking for up to 45 more minutes. Keep checking it.
When the fibers are no longer gummy feeling, empty the sink and refill it again with 145-degree water. Do not put any baking soda in and only add 1/8 cup of Dawn dish soap. Soak the goat hair for another 15 minutes.
Empty the sink and refill it with just water, soaking for another 15 minutes. Continue this 2 or 3 more times, letting the water get cooler each time.
Spread out the fiber on a towel or drying rack in the sun to dry. You can also use a fan to help.
Step 2: Carding or Combing the Goat Hair
Whichever method you choose for preparing you’re goat hair for yarn, you’ll either want to Card or Comb it.
Carding creates a slightly fuzzier yarn as not as many of the fibers are aligned.
Combing creates a smoother yarn as the fibers are more aligned. Combing is the more expensive process as you have higher waste involved than with carding. (source)
Carding and combing are related terms that indicate how strands are separated and prepared for spinning into yarn. With either method, the fibers and blended while hay and other contaminates are removed that may still be present.
These two methods also straighten the fibers, making them all lie in the same direction.
Carding can either be done by hand or with a carding machine. Combing is done with paddle combs. Paddle combs are similar to hand carders except they are more simple with only one or two rows of teeth.
Step 3: Spinning the Goat Hair into Yarn
The most traditional method for spinning goat hair into yarn is hand spinning. This requires a drop spindle or a spinning wheel.
To spin with a drop spindle, you attach a piece of yarn (called a leader cord) to your spindle and then attach the end of your fiber to that. You normally spin clockwise to hold the goat hair fibers together. As you spin the wheel, you gradually add fiber to the end you are working with.
A spinning wheel requires you to use your hands and feet. Your feet push the treadle which keeps the wheel moving as you gradually add fiber to be spun into yarn. It takes some practice to learn how to move your hands and feet together and get a consistent product. However, once you get it the process seems like second nature, and spinners even say it’s incredibly relaxing.
What is the Best Yarn for Blankets?
One of the best yarn for blankets come from goats! There are a few different types of yarn that is made from different breeds of goats that make for a soft and perfect yarn for blankets.
Kashmir goats. These are goats that are usually found in China and Mongolia. The produce cashmere fiber from their undercoat that is plucked rather than sheared. It takes up to two goats to pluck enough cashmere undercoat to make one sweater, let alone a blanket. This fiber is easily dyed and one of the softest you can find. It spins very easily and is durable enough for everyday use.
Angora and Pygora goats. This breed of goats produces Mohair. This fiber is very soft but pales in comparison to cashmere. When knitted or crocheted into a blanket, it often has a sheen to it because of the smoothness of the fibers. It can be a little tricky to learn how to spin because it tends to be a little slippery.
Both of these types of goat fiber are excellent choices for baby blankets and other baby-related items. They are extremely soft making them perfect against baby skin. They’re also breathable and wick away moisture.
Goat cashmere and mohair items should be washed gently with little agitation to avoid felting and piling. You can even put it in the washing machine on the gentle cycle or you can hand wash it.
If you’ve ever worked with goat hair fiber, please share your experience with it in the comments!