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Saturday, April 2, 2011

Value Added

Handspun yarn is too expensive?  Consider this:

First—and this is a big first—there's the wastage while the critter is still wearing the fleece.  A breeder may have high hopes for a particular group of animals, as did the owner of Applebright Farms with a promising group of apricot-colored pygoras, but an unexpected cold snap can send them into their shelter to huddle and cuddle and rub against each other, producing a fine mess of felt . . . right on their own  backs.

But let's say the does or ewes and wethers behave themselves, and the fleece comes along without felting.  There's the shearing, which by its nature carries some waste (during the skirting the sweat fribs and feces-stained or shorter, less desireable pieces must be trimmed away).

There's the scouring, which removes most of the remaining detritus the creature has accumulated in its daily ramblings:  twigs, brambles, dirt, and such.

There's the carding or milling, which gets willy-nilly fibers aligned in one direction.

There's the spinning, which may involve blending with another fiber (pygora, for instance, benefits from being blended with merino).

There's the plying, putting the contents of those separately-spun bobbins together to make a yarn.

There's the skeining and measuring, of course.

And then there's the fulling.

How many times do you calculate a given fiber passes through someone's hands before it reaches you as yarn ready to knit?

Talk about value added.

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