Processing natural fiber can be an extensive process. There are many methods for taking fiber from goat to garment! Here are a few of the key steps in the fiber art process:
- Skirting and Washing – The raw fleece is skirted (meaning sorted through by hand) to remove soiled portions of the fleece including areas densely matted by vegetation. The fiber is then washed.
- Carding – This process refers to the combing out of fiber so that the individual strands point in the same direction. This can be done either by hand or through a machine. Hand carding creates bats while machine carding creates roving.
- Spinning – The roving or bats are then spun into a single ply of yarn via a spinning machine or drop spindle. Single strands of yarn are often plied together to create a multi-plied yarn. Yarns may or may not be plied. Plying refers to the process of twisting together two strands of yarn in the opposite direction in which they were spun. This serves to strengthen and stabilize the yarn.
- Knitting, Crocheting or Weaving – The completed yarn is then worked in a variety of methods to create a final product or garment.
I highly recommend bookmarking Tactile’s extensive glossary of fiber preparation terminology for future reference.
Types of Natural Animal Fiber
Check out this brief overview of types of natural animal fiber. Full posts on each fiber type will be posted to the blog soon.
Wool: This fiber is produced by sheep and includes a wide variety of breeds with unique fiber qualities. At times, wool is a term used to refer to alpaca and llama fiber.
Mohair: Often referred to as the diamond fiber, mohair is fiber from Angora goats. Learn more about mohair on my post The Diamond Fiber: A Knitter’s Guide to Mohair.
Alpaca: The fiber produced by alpacas which tends to be extremely soft and warm.
Llama: Llama fiber can range from the softness of an alpaca to a much coarser type of fiber. Some llama fiber contains guard hairs (thick course hairs) that must be removed from the fleece before it can be further processed.