Monday, February 1, 2010

dyeing yarn, goats, and goat coat

I had a very productive weekend. I took out my dye pot and dyed some yarn that I had previously spun. I am going to be knitting a cardigan,(my first) since it is so cold here and I always seem to be dressed in layers. I am signed up for my first class this weekend. Entitled "your first sweater". I can't wait. Living in Arizona for 5 years, I did not really need sweaters. I am going to show you some pictures of the process of home dyeing. I used Jacquard dyes which are a powder, and you use vinegar, water, and soap for the process. The first picture is Rock Star one of my alpacas, as you can see, he is just full of fleece, I am shown parting his fleece or fiber. Wool is from sheep. Note the waviness, this is called crimp. It gives memory and loftiness to yarn. the length of his fiber is a good 5 inches or so, we call this staple length.

This is the yarn at the start of my dyeing process. The way it is shown is called a hank. It is not in a ball yet because the hank lets the yarn relax and you do not have the stretching that you get when the yarn is in a ball. I need to take this white colored yarn and soak it in hot soapy water for 30 minutes as I prepare my dye.
I decided to dye this yarn Crimson Red. I did 5 skeins. I dissolved my powdered dye in 1/2 cup of warm water and then added it to my 2.5 gallon enamel pot with about 2 gallons water in it. You can't use aluminum as this interferes with the dyeing process, you need enamel or stainless steel, once you use a pot for dyeing, you can not use it for food preparation either.) To the 2 gallons of water add 1 cup of white vinegar,and start heating this up. I need it about the temp of my soaking yarn, this is important as the conditions are perfect for felting, a change of temp to shock the yarn, soap and agitation. When fiber or yarn is felted, it is the scales on the individual strands that open up and well, "felt" together.
Of course at this stage I get a call from my #1 son Ryan, as I was talking to him I added my yarn to the dye pot, as you can see the yarn turned out with a slight variegation, because I forgot to stir the dye pot prior to adding the yarn. The dye had settled to the bottom. But the phone call was worth it.
The yarn is seen hanging on a coat hanger to dry. All I need to do know is put into ball form, and knit away. I have a ball winder for that, sure makes life easier and so fast!

The following is goat related.
3 of my goats have an outer coat, and then a downy undercoat for warmth, except my big black goat Dosado(pronounced like the square dance term doe-see-doe.) She was named after my square dance years, but that story another time. She just has the outer coat. Some of these nights have been downright COLD, so I found it necessary to make her a coat. Normally a goat will do fine with adequate food and shelter, but Dosado had a hard time with the boarding and transport when we moved up here and she lost quite a bit of weight. It is just good goat management to prevent problems from occuring. So I want her to use her calories to regain her lost weight, not to stay warm.
Goats 101.
When you feed a goat you are feeding the bacteria in their rumen, which breaks down the feed and nourishes the goat. Ruminates need to keep their rumen at a certain temp as you don't want the good bacteria to die off and be replaced by the bad bacteria which can lead to sepsis and death of the goat.
That is why I want Dosado not to get too cold. Here is a picture of her modelling her coat, of course the other girls had to help out and be in the picture also. Never a lack of help when you are out in the goat herd.
My goats are Nubians, and my big girls weigh in at around #180 pounds. The Nubian breed are actually from a warmer climate, but have some Swiss breeds in them dating way back. they have the roman nose for warming or cooling the air, and the long pendulous ears for cooling. My black goats enjoy lying out in the sun even when it is over 90degrees. Dosado is a 4 year old, she has had babies twice in her life, she gives over a gallon of milk per day in the first 6 months or so of her lactation. We milk them for about a 1 1/2 years before they are dried off and rebred.
I love goats. Goats and dogs are two of the most useful animals on the planet as far as I am concerned. From goats you get milk that you can drink, make cheese, or soap out of, fiber goats called angoras, you get mohair for spinning. People use the larger breeds for packing, they are good companion /pet animals, and of course, some people eat them, but I never could, it would be like eating my dog.

Highly intelligent also! Our first goat, Glitter could turn on lights, after she saw us do it. Her wheels were always turning, and you could just see it in her eyes. They need good fencing, because they will learn how to get out, and open gates. Which reminds me of a goat we had named Buster. Our grandson Brady was over, he was about 5 at the time. We had an outdoor spigot near the barn, and it kept mysteriously being turned on. The red lever had to be pulled up. Well after this happened a few times during his visit, we asked Brady if he was turning on the water. He said no, then little Buster came up to the fence and lifted that pump handle as easy as you please. We had to move his fence.

This is a picture of me feeding the goats salted peanuts as a treat. Every day after the morning milking they all line up for them. Their heads are just a swaying and bobbing through the fence with eyes pleading "me first, me first!" Goats will follow you anywhere for a salted peanut. Bear has started liking them also.

For all of you weather afficionos, our temp was 14 degrees this am, and was foggy, but as soon as the sun showed up the fog was gone.

More later.........

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