1. You make yarn out of hair, so what kind of hair do you use?
We have Angora goats. The actual fiber is called mohair and it’s a wool.
2. How did you get started in all of this?
A couple years ago, a guy said he did this on his farm and it sort of piqued my interest. At the fair, I saw some Angora goats for sale. It sounded like something fun to do, so we went ahead and bought them. We’ve had them about two and a half years.
3. Is this a hobby or a business?
It’s both, but right now it’s more of a hobby. I do sell the finished yarn and the fiber [goat hair] it is made out of over the Internet and through a shop in downtown Lima called Pears Avenue. This all really started as a hobby, but I have more yarn than I will ever be able to use, so now I sell it for others to use.
4. How many goats do you have?
We have the three Angora goats — two males and one female.
5. How much hair do you need to make a ball of yarn?
We have one year of hair for three goats and it made 88 skeins of yarn. A skein is 4 ounces and is an industry standard. So, we get about 25 to 26 skeins of yarn from each goat.
6. What colors do you make?
Well, it comes in this natural color, which is kind of an off-white. I sell that as natural. Then I can dye it any color. I can really do anything I can imagine as far as colors and variations. Getting to create the colors, blends and patterns is my favorite part of the whole process.
7. What kinds of things do you make from the yarn?
Right now, I’m doing baby blankets. I do winter headbands and neck cowls, which are short scarves for underneath your coat collar. I’ve also made purses, cellphone holders — really anything I can imagine. That’s what I sell at Pears Avenue. I do a lot of crocheting at ball games, camping in the summers and at my daughters’ horse shows.
8. What is the process from goat hair to skein of yarn?
The first thing we do is shear the goat. I do that myself. I recently learned how to do it and we do that two times a year — once in the spring and once in the fall. Then we wash it. You can use Dawn dish soap or laundry soap. It is a long process — it goes through about six soaks and you can’t agitate it. You also have to keep the water temperature even and it has to be hot. Then you take the raw fiber and you comb it. That gets out all the hay and debris. It opens up the fiber and makes it easier to work with. Once it’s opened up with the combs, the next step is to card it. You use wool cards — they look like giant dog brushes. You brush two of them against each other and that’s called carding. Once you get it pillowy, you roll it up and you end up with what is called roving. Spinners will buy it in that form and you can spin it yourself. I don’t spin it myself because I’m just learning.
9. Do your goats have names?
Yes, they are Ben, Bob and Shelby, or sometimes, we call her Snowball. Ben is probably our favorite because he’s the nicest.
10. How do people buy yarn from you?
The best way is they can go to our website at http://keenerfarm.wordpress.com and get all my contact information.