Adventures of the Yellow School Bus | "From Locks to Yarn" | Text and 39 Photos by Candice Granger

Jim Bob and I traveled to Kerrville in July to participate in the HLRS Angora Goat Auction. I am going to try my hand at raising Angora goats for their fine mohair! Now, I am new to all things fiber. I taught myself how to knit last winter and successfully completed two scarves (the kids love them very much but I am too embarrassed to show them to anyone else.) So, I have a lot, a lot to learn! But what I am good at it is raising and taking care of goats. We have the space and I have the love for all things living so I am going to give it my best.

Angora goats produce mohair which is sheared without harming the animal twice a year. If you are interested in angora hair, that comes from the Angora rabbit which is also different from cashmere which comes from a Cashmere goat. Cashmere is brushed from the goat which takes a crazy amount of time. I understand why it is so pricey! The Angora rabbit is also brushed to collect the angora hair but their is no brushing involved when you are shearing an Angora goat.

(Caption, Image on Right: Here I am with our new Angora goats. They were not use to a lot of human interaction. It has taken me time and treats to get them to  appreciate a good head scratch.)

This is Nosey.  She is one of our Angora goats that we
bought in Kerrville from Mr. Fred Speck.

Lena Marie is letting Mo, our buck, get to know her.
He has large horns that are quite intimidating! 

This is another Angora doe. Lena Marie named
her Stella. Great name for a goat!

So after I brought the goats home I had to figure out how I was going to shear them. A pair of shears, a good pair, were in the $400 range. Way out of our budget! I looked up shearing them with a pair of scissors but then laughed at myself. How the heck was I going to do that? Luckily, Mr. Speck said that we could bring them back to his farm and have them sheared by Keeno. Keeno shears all 1500 head of Mr. Speck's Angora goats. So we loaded the goats back in the truck and drove them all the way back to Kerrville to have them sheared.

This is Mo getting sheared. Keeno was a crazy fast. He has been shearing goats for 30 years. After witnessing him shear all those goats, I have a new appreciation for the hard work that goes into that craft. Keeno let me have a try at shearing but it didn't work out so well. The shears were heavy, the goat was greasy and everything was so slippery. I couldn't hold it all. He humored me for a bit and then I thought I should hand over the shears to the professional and let him get on with his job. It was definitely a humbling experience. I am sort of nervous about shearing our goats in February. That will be a fun article!
They don't look like the same goats!  Where did my
majestic Angora goats go?  Now, I have pathetic looking
goats and lots of dirty mohair.  Now what?

I get to wash it and wash it and wash it.

Thank goodness for YouTube. I watched a ton of YouTube videos on how to handle mohair, how to wash mohair, and how to dye mohair too. I'm not ready for dying quite yet but I was ready to get the super dirty mohair clean or at least cleaner.

This is how I washed my mohair. If you have some suggestions for me, I would LOVE to hear them. I am still figuring it all out.

Start off with hot water. Now, I do this all outside because I don't want to heat up our bus and I use buckets and small amounts of water because we are on 100% rainwater. I don't let the sink just run to warm the water up or for rinsing. So this is my resourceful way of washing mohair.

 This is 1 pound piles of unwashed mohair.
I took all the yucky stuff out.  The pizzle, vegetable matter and all the other crazy stuff I find.  I know one day a little green man is going to jump out and say, "Thank you!  I have been in there for six months!" 

Here is a close up of the unwashed mohair.

This time I tried washing the mohair in the these laundry bags.  I think it went well.

Since my water is so hot, I add a bit of water to the bucket just to make sure it is not boiling hot.

So I have a bucket, Dawn dish soap, my mohair, some gloves, a spoon that a goat?

Yes!  Here comes Nosey.  She just can't stand it.  You can see how quickly their fleece grows back.  It grows about 1 inch a month.

I love this photo!  Look at her curls!  She wanted to sniff the camera.

               Here they come!  I guess she was thirsty. Glad that is nice clean, cool water!  I added the super hot water water after she decided something else looked more interesting and wandered away.

The kids got the soap in the water and now they are having fun!  I think they were pretending it was ice cream.  I wish.  

I dropped the mohair in the super hot, soapy water and I let it sit.  I try really hard not to mess with it. If you agitate too much, it will tangle and become a matted mess. 

I decided to switch back and forth between hot soapy water buckets/bowls just to get it out of the yuck water.

Crazy how dirty the water gets!  I keep washing it until the water is transparent.  Maybe 5 or 6 times?

Keep going...

This looks better but needs a bit more.

In it goes for a rinse...finally.

She's back!

Oh my!  Is that not the cutest?  We call her Smiley.

Smiley is s-l-o-w-l-y warming up to us.

Drying time! 

I press all the water out and then let it hang for an afternoon.  Once it isn't soaking wet, I take it out of the bag and carefully separate it out and let it completely dry in front of a fan or in the sunshine, usually takes 2 or so days.

That's it!  Here is some clean mohair ready for spinning!

Isn't it beautiful?  This fleece is from Mo, our buck.  He makes awesome locks because he is awesome.  

My goal is to sell the mohair.  But since I don't know anything about mohair, spinning or fiber in general, I thought it might be a good idea to take a class.  Smart, right?

So I did!  Kennedy at Hill Country Weavers was my teacher.  Kennedy knows more about fiber in one of her pinky toes than I know in my ENTIRE body.  She is extremely knowledgeable and very PATIENT!  The lady in the white shirt is Sue.  She was the other student in the class.

Kennedy, in the red, led us gently down the spinning path and showed us different types of spinning, different fibers we could use and how to finish it all out.  Spinning is definitely not a one step process!

Here are some different roving you can purchase in the fabulous shop at Hill Country Weavers in Austin.  It is like a mecca for any knitter.  This wall was in the back in the workshop area.  The rest of the store is solid yarn and not just yarn but beautiful yarn!  And they had a whole wall of fiber books.  I was impressed.

This is some of the fiber that we spun.  My favorite was silk but I didn't take a picture of that one.  Sorry.

So I brought some of my washed mohair with me because that is what I would most likely be spinning.  I asked Kennedy if she would show me how she would spin mohair.  Of course, she got on it like she does it all the time!  She quickly drafted the mohair out but still left the locks intact.  It all happened really fast.  It will take me lots of practice to master.

You can see that the yarn turns out to be this chunky, fun, curly in spots, full of texture kind of yarn. One that would be a warm, fuzzy scarf or a fabulous throw! I am so excited. I loved it. Kennedy did too because she ended up buying a fleece from me. Yippee! I sold my very first mohair hair fleece! High fives!

It was very gratifying seeing the mohair go from dirty locks on our goats to clean, beautiful yarn on the spinning wheel. I will continue to practice spinning but I feel like my calling is caring for the Angora goats that supplies the world with mohair. It will be fun to watch our herd grow and produce sweet little baby Angora goats each year. Hopefully, I will get better at shearing too. Wish me luck.

Do you have any experience with Angora goats or washing mohair? Any suggestions for me? I would love to hear some!

Candice Granger and her super cute brood call home (and art studio!) to a 16+ acre homestead in Gonzales County. They live in a converted yellow school bus with a large cast of furry characters including sheep, goats, chickens and 1 sassy donkey named Choncho. Candice focuses her many talents towards 'healthy and homemade.' Candice is an artist, home-schooling teacher & mother, and partner to her potter husband Jim Bob.

Thank you for viewing this page

WWN's Free Community Newsletter relies on the help of its readers and advertisers to cover overhead costs that enable the WWN to exist. We need your help to continue! Thank you!
You do NOT need a PayPal Account. Use Square

Currently Trending in the Network

Copyright © 2011-2019. All Rights Reserved. Wonderful Women's Network, LLC. Your Community Newsletter Magazine. Committed to news, events, businesses and stories of Rockport-Fulton and Texas Coastal Bend Region. Duplication of content on this site without permission is prohibited by law. Information on this site is time sensitive and for general/entertainment purposes only. Opinion pieces/submitted articles and comments are the thoughts of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the WWN. Paid advertising through the WWN is not available to other general information publications. Always consult a licensed physician before taking medical or health advice. The WWN does not endorse any political party or candidate.