Sunday, 26 April 2015

Scottish Bird of Paradise Shawl

I was looking for patterns to use up some multi-coloured Wensleydale Wool that I had in my stash.  I have 2 skeins, both the same colourway but they look completely different to each other so I really need to use each skein in a different project.  I didn't find anything suitable or that I liked that required just one skein so I looked at the possibility of using a second yarn with it and what I had in my yarn stash that would work well with the multitude of colours and was the same thickness.  I found a stunning pattern, not lace, but never mind I will make it anyway.

The yarns are some Shetland Wool by J C Rennie in bottle green and Wensleydale Wool by Elvincraft in shade Rose Garden.  I cast on on 11th March and was excited to get started on such a stunning design.

It is made using garter stitch throughout, except for the line that defines the centre of each feather, short row knitting and a gradual shift along by casting off stitches at the neck edge whilst adding them on at the feather edge.  Its quite a tiring, boring knit as you have to constantly count how many stitches you knit on every row.  I often felt myself drifting off to sleep as I knit.

I finally finished making this on 24th April 2015 and was so glad to cast off.  I know it is a visually stunning design but I really really could not face making one of these again.  Fellow craftsmen and craftswomen will understand what its like to make something when you are not enjoying making it.  Blocking the shawl made a big difference to how the shape of the shawl and it does kind of hook around the neck and stay in place.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Angora Goat - Mohair

Mohair is the name of the fleece of the Angora Goat, which are thought to originate from the mountains of Tibet and Turkey, more specifically the region called Anatolia, in a city that was then called Angora but is now the Turkish capital of Ankara.  Angora Cats and Angora Rabbits also originate from here.  Mohair is often confused with Angora wool, which comes from the Angora Rabbit.

Angora goats are cute looking with fairly mellow personalties and are the only breed to goat to grow curly locks and they are also a single-coated breed and so there is no need to dehair the fleece to separate the coarse hair from the down hair.  They grow their fleece incredibly fast, with adults fleeces growing an average of 2cm every month, all year round.  They have to be sheared twice a year as they will easily produce 4-5kg of hair every year.  They are rather delicate creatures that do not fair well in cold climates and require a highly nutritional diet for them to thrive.  They are not considered to be prolific breeders either.

They are usually white in colour, but you can get black, grey, silver, red and brownish fleece too.  Mohair is composed mostly of Keratin and whilst the fibres do have scales, like wool, they are not fully developed and so Mohair does not felt.  The locks do not have crimp, although they do have waves and they do not have the elasticity that wool does and so it can stretch by around a third, which gives mohair fabrics great draping ability.  It does not pill but it will shed if not spun well and it can be spun to be sleek or fluffy.

The fleece of the youngest animals, usually sheared at around 6 months of age, is known as Kid Mohair and is the finest and softest that you can get and is usually used for clothing.  The hair of the adults is thicker so is more likely to be used in outer garments or carpets, with Bucks generally having coarser fleeces than Does.  The best hand spinning fibres come from the sides of the animals.  It has high lustre and sheen and will take dye exceptionally well, producing vibrant colours.