- Written by Diane
- Category: General
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It is deeply satisfying to knit a warm, cozy hat for a friend or loved one with yarn spun from your own animals. What we enjoy as a rewarding hobby, our ancestors knew as the necessary work to produce enough cloth to keep their families clothed. Cloth had value. It took many hours to produce and garments were repaired, cut down and resewn and finally turned into rugs. Cloth was not thrown away as it is in these days.
While families no longer have to raise their own animals and plants in order to have cloth, many of us would like some control over the yarn we use in our creations. Some are attracted to the fiber realm due to environmental concerns and wish to craft with organic yarn. Others want to make specific types and colors of yarn for specific projects. Many hope to launch a small fiber business to pay for their hobby and make a little profit.
The term farm is used loosely here. It can range from a spare room, garage, shed or backyard space that houses a few angora rabbits to a multi acre tract occupied by a variety of fiber producing plants and animals. I started out with Jersey Wooly rabbits in a city backyard and progressed to acreage with sheep and angora rabbits.
3 Major Yarn Categories
Of the three main yarn categories, a fiber farm only produces the first two which are natural and able to be grown and made into yarn on the farm. Synthetic yarns are man made or, as in the case of bamboo, require a chemical process to break down the fibers so they can be spun into yarn.
Animal/Insect this includes wool from sheep, alpaca, llama, rabbits, goats and silk made by silk worms.
Plant – cotton, flax, and hemp are in this category.
- Synthetic – acrylic, nylon, rayon, polyester, bamboo
Uses for Yarn
Value of Yarn
Yarn has an intrinsic value because it clothes mankind. With a spinning wheel and a loom cloth can be made and sewn into a garment. One of my goals is to weave a tunic from my sheep's wool.
Breed/species specific yarn is in demand. We all know about the popularity of merino wool, but there is growing awareness of the delightful properties of other kinds of wool. Whether the attraction is softness, luster or durability, there is an animal or plant that produces that type of fiber.
When you make your own yarn, you control the outcome. There are different methods of preparing and spinning that yield very different results. Carding and spinning with what is called long draw method gives a soft, fuzzy, warm, woolen yarn perfect for hats and cozy sweaters. Combing and spinning short draw makes a smooth worsted yarn that wears well for garments such as socks.
There is value in the ability to craft a garment in a particular way with just the right yarn that is just the right color. If you can envision it, you can create it.
Roving, combed top, yarn and items made from yarn can all be sold to recover expenses and add profit. Besides venues such as Etsy, there are fiber festivals, farmers' markets and craft shows at which to sell products. Social media provides another outlet.
Anyone interested in a self sufficient life will be attracted to the idea of growing their own attire. Clothing protects us from the elements and, in some climates, is as necessary as food, water and shelter.