When I first got into spinning, I had romantic notions about raising my own sheep and alpacas, with the occasional angora goat -- a fleece flock I called it. That was before I spent some time with friends who actually raise sheep. It's not a money maker -- it is a labour of love. Animals need a lot of attention and the time you spend on them is time you can't spend spinning and doing fibre preparation.
So in my development as a fibre artist I decided that I would do all I could to support those who are raising these fantastic animals -- especially those who are doing it as small scale farmers. For as much as my crafts of spinning and fibre preparation need to be continued into the next generation or we'll lose them, so too is the art of animal husbandry. The art and craft of taking care of domestic animals. They don't take care of themselves. They need a lot of looking after for a healthy and stress free animal provides the best kind of fibre -- and meat. Sorry to the vegetarians, but it's a fact.
In my teaching workshops, I am committed to using and promoting locally sourced fibres. So as I begin getting materials ready to teach 2 full-day spinning workshops in Haida Gwaii in mid-May, I start by looking at what the local fibre producers have to offer. This weekend was Fibreswest and I was thrilled to meet Devon Stringer and her mom from Humming Bee Farm there. They had just the kind of fibre I was looking for -- and a great story. From her website:
"At Humming Bee Farm we breed and raise high quality, purebred white and colored Angora goats. Angora goats are on Canada's Rare Breed Conservation List and we are very pleased to be helping protect them from becoming an endangered species. We shear our goats twice a year, once in late March and once again in late September. On average we get about 10 pounds of lusterous white mohair from each goat, each year. Mohair is a wonderful fibre and in much demand by our local spinners and weavers."
Here is some fibre from Humming Fee Farm that I purchased this weekend for the workshops. I bought 4 1/2 lbs of lovely corriedale and 1/2 lb of yearling mohair. I've spent the morning portioning the mohair into bags and making the wool into braids. The braids on the right are 50 g braids and the bags in the plastic box each contain 15 g of the yearling mohair. The corriedale will be used in both the Beginning Spindling and Advanced Spindling workshops. The mohair is for fibre blending in the Advanced workshop. There are many more fibres to gather and prepare (alpaca, silk and other kinds of wool) but this is the start.
And a grand one it is thanks to Devon and her family.