I had a friend visit last week who took away with her a small handful of raw cashmere, just combed off the goat. Just to see what she could do. Alison is an excellent spinner so I expected very good results and I was not disappointed! Here are her photographs and her comments reproduced with her permission.
I hope it inspires you all to try cashmere – (and no, I’m not encouraging you to buy from me! I have limited supplies and a big commitment this year to yarn spinning!) Do make sure however that you ask questions about what you are buying. Just like Merino wool, there are many grades of cashmere. We grade as Fine Inner Mongolian ie up to about 15 microns. Many of the fleeces are much finer. The one Alison took was, from memory, a two year old but it was literally a handful from the top of the sack.
Here are the photos and Alison’s words. Thank you for sharing it with us!
I washed the sample in warm water with a little Fairy dishwashing liquid. There was so little dirt that it then only needed to be rinsed a couple of times to get the soap out. I did the last rinse in water that I had brought to a neutral/very slightly acid (a pH 0f 6.85 according to my metre) with a grain or two of citric acid.
Once dried I stretched it over the back of my hand and under a strong light I could see the few guard hairs sticking up. I just pulled them out with my fingers. I turned it over a few times and repeated the process but really there were very few hairs. Maybe I just got lucky.
Next I combed it on my fine combs. These are not the greatest as they were a prototype. They taught us that either tines must be set at an angle or be curved on the ends, otherwise they tend to mesh and bend. Anyway they were good enough for this small sample. It combed easily and the odd hair that I had missed quickly showed up and was removed. Because of static I found I had to spray it with a little water/lavender oil mix to keep it under control. Nothing new there, I frequently have to do the same to sheep wool.
This was a little more interesting. No fault of the cashmere, just that I do not have the fanciest wheel around and it took me a while to discover that I needed to totally loosen my scotch tension. Just the weight of the cord and the spring on the end was enough. Once I had stopped breaking the thread it spun like a dream.
As I figured any cashmere I would want to use in the future would be for knitting, mainly lace, I spun it very fine with a short backwards draw, sort of semi-woollen.
I then let it rest and the next day plied 2 singles together.
After making a small skein I washed it again in hot water to set the twist. After drying it was more fluffy that it had been before the wash. Really soft and gorgeous.
I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience – thank you.