10 tips on starting a fiber farm | Living the Country Life
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10 tips on starting a fiber farm

  • 10 tips on starting a fiber farm

    Before you run out and buy a herd of Angora goats and alpacas to supply fiber for your handspun yarn hobby, remember that raising animals is a lot of work and takes proper facilities. Follow this advice from Cassie Moon in Nichols, Iowa, to start your enterprise off right.

    Date Published: February 26, 2013
    Date Updated: February 26, 2013
    Tags: Wool
  • Start with sheep

    Sheep wool can be used as is or blended with most any other fiber, be it natural (mohair, silk, angora, hemp) or man-made (Tencel, nylon, acrylic). Within sheep there is much variety in fiber types from long to short wools, colors, and crimps. “The possibilities are endless and never boring,” Cassie says.

    Date Published: February 26, 2013
    Date Updated: February 26, 2013
    Tags: Wool
  • Realize the work involved.

    A lot of people want to start out with Angora goats because mohair is popular. But they are high-maintenance animals (frequent hoof trims and shearing twice a year), and most processors won’t process 100% mohair or more than a 50-50 mohair/wool blend.

    Date Published: February 26, 2013
    Date Updated: February 26, 2013
    Tags: Wool
  • Beware the exotics

    Many folks want to plunge into the exotic fibers market and go straight for llamas and alpacas. These fibers don’t have a lot of elasticity, so they’re not good for garments that need to hold their shape like the waist of a sweater. Llama and alpaca fibers have gone down in value as exotic fibers. You really have to identify a market and a processor for your yarn if you are going to sell 100% llama/alpaca.

    Date Published: February 26, 2013
    Date Updated: February 26, 2013
    Tags: Wool
  • Skip raising animals altogether, if you like

    There are so many sources of raw fiber and other resources (dyes, roving) that you don’t need fiber animals. Cassie has fiber animals because she has a very high standard for fleece quality, believes in humane treatment of animals, and has a philosophy about selling local yarn.

    Date Published: February 26, 2013
    Date Updated: February 26, 2013
    Tags: Wool
  • Know your dyes

    There are different dyes for man-made and natural fibers. Cassie typically uses acid dyes for animal fibers because they produce bold, saturated color. Other options are Kool-Aid and natural dyes such as walnuts and onions.

     

    Date Published: February 26, 2013
    Date Updated: February 26, 2013
    Tags: Wool
  • Let the fiber inspire you

    Cassie doesn’t dye with a plan. She is usually inspired by the characteristics or color of the fiber or something she’s seen in passing, such as the broken out-windows on a building. She loves to use color combinations in odd ways, like burgundy, turquoise, and red. Her best yarns are often the result of the dyes interacting on their own. She also gets into color moods. “Right now, I’m using burgundy. Last year, I was addicted to chartreuse,” she says.


    Date Published: February 26, 2013
    Date Updated: February 26, 2013
    Tags: Wool
  • Be ready for the time commitment

    Handspun yarn is a time-consuming craft. Each skein of yarn Cassie sells at the farmers market means many evenings of spinning to replace it.

    Date Published: February 26, 2013
    Date Updated: February 26, 2013
    Tags: Wool
  • Inspire your buyer

    Cassie wants to educate the consumer better on art yarns, particularly the one-of-a-kind skeins that are funky, chunky works of art. The average knitter doesn’t seem to understand what to do with art yarns, so she has knitted samples or patterns available.

    Date Published: February 26, 2013
    Date Updated: February 26, 2013
    Tags: Wool
  • Be prepared to part with it

    Cassie hates parting with a yarn/fiber that she’s emotionally attached to. She has fleeces that were her animals’ lamb or yearling fleeces. “I only get those fibers once, so parting with them is bittersweet,” she says.

    Date Published: February 26, 2013
    Date Updated: February 26, 2013
    Tags: Wool
  • Shear it!

    Shearing is a stressful time for humans and animals, but Cassie loves it. She is able to get close to the animals and see what condition they’re in after the winter.

     

    Date Published: February 26, 2013
    Date Updated: February 26, 2013
    Tags: Wool
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