Mountain Goat Wool Happiness

February 19, 2018 at 8:58 pm 9 comments

Goat Hat

Handspun Enchantment Lakes mountain goat wool
on Brooklyn Tweed Altair hat

The Enchantments are enchanting.
A beautiful place.
With mountain goats.
Lots of them.
They are kinda scary.


And their wool.

I started collecting bits I found on plants and rocks, my husband and brother, joined in. We had to keep moving or I would have spent all day gathering wool. I ended up with two handfuls of goat wool.

On the grueling hike out, I thought and thought about my little bit of goat wool…
not enough to knit a project…a bit of trim…
and I knew just the hat:

Brooklyn Tweed Altair
Photo by Brooklyn Tweed

The arches remind me of mountains and Loft colors Sweatshirt, the color of the granite, and Button Jar, the foliage in The Enchantments.

The goat wool was pretty dirty (I worried abouts pests and poo, but kept stuffing it into a ziplock bag inside my pocket).
I went online and researched how to clean fleece…
and worried.
I resolved to wash it in hot water…
and hoped to avoid felting it…
…and resigned myself to a felt goat sewn onto a hat if it came to that.

Success!  Clean goat.  No felt.

Second finer cleaning, picking out the hairs, and stuff I call “goat funk” – vegetation, skin, poo, whatever; I washed my hands a lot.
In the end I had 2 grams of fluffy fluffy goat down. As soft as any fiber I’ve ever touched.

I don’t spin.

On to Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat 2017 with goat fluff in hand, to ask the experts for advice. At a demonstration booth, the spinning expert described my goat down as “finer than cashmere” and declared,
Judith MacKenzie could spin this”.

Well, that was discouraging,
until I spoke to Judith.
I saw Judith at an evening event,and told her my goat wool story; she invited me to come by her classroom the next day with my goat fluff, she would show me how it is done.
After feeling so discouraged earlier, I was walking on air (Judith does that to people!).
Next day at noon, I showed up with goat fluff in hand.
I was mesmerized, Judith produced a strand a yarn out of the fluff, like water pouring out of a pitcher. Beautiful.

I wondered how long it would take me to learn to do that.
I must have looked like a lost puppy. Judith took my goat fluff home with her.

Three weeks later, this beauty arrived in the mail, along with photos Judith had taken during the spinning process.

Judith’s photos:

ready to begin, goat down, tea, and cookies
mountain goat singlebeautiful 2-ply mountain goat yarn

Also at Madrona, I took Franklin Habit’s “Embroider Your Knitting – Level One” class on Friday. He suggested couching as a method for my goat. Couching keeps the precious fiber on top of the fabric, it avoids using up a lot of yarn on the reverse side and avoids the wear and tear of pulling the yarn through the fabric.

Couched embroidery of handspun mountain goat on handknit hat

I started by drawing a goat on paper and tracing it onto some interfacing, then basted the outline onto the hat with orange sewing thread.Next, embroidered the outline through the interfacing (and basting) with laceweight cashmere.I verrrry carefully cut away the interfacing, then I just winged it on the couching, lots of trial and error.  I did those horns at least five times each!

Entry filed under: Cool Things, Finished!, Madrona. Tags: , , , , .

Churchmouse Swingy Linen Skirt Poetry In Stitches page 166

9 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Barb  |  February 20, 2018 at 5:04 am

    Beautiful! So cool that Judith took photos in process for you! I was wondering how your time at Madrona went this year!

  • 2. Carolyn  |  February 20, 2018 at 6:57 am

    Love love love!

  • 3. Susan  |  March 8, 2018 at 12:34 pm

    Absolutely wonderful!

  • 4. Ruth  |  August 3, 2018 at 7:26 pm


    • 5. Barb  |  August 3, 2018 at 7:42 pm

      I have my grandfather’s spinning wheel now, do you want a turn sometime?

  • 6. Madrona: That’s a wrap! | PDXKnitterati  |  February 24, 2019 at 10:53 pm

    […] I met Zina, the knitter of this wonderful hat. She gathered the mountain goat fluff on a hike, but didn’t know how to spin. The story of how she processed the fluff, including Judith MacKenzie offering to spin it for her(!) is on her blog here. […]

  • 7. JohnM  |  September 8, 2019 at 11:09 am

    beautiful! I actually did the same enchantments backpacking hike but had enough time to collect a good wad. I want to make a hat too, and initially just thought I’d felt it together, maybe adding some other wools to boost it if I didn’t have enough. Why did you want to avoid felting it so bad? Just to maintain accuracy you get from being able to embroider it?

    • 8. knittinginmind  |  September 18, 2019 at 11:02 am

      JohnM, that is great that you collected “a good wad”!
      Regarding felting, I had in mind an embroidered goat and wanted yarn for that. I didn’t want to accidentally felt the fiber into a bunch of random clumps.
      When I showed my fiber to Judith MacKenzie, she told me it wouldn’t felt as I had cleaned it to only the downy fibers which don’t felt. Her book, The Practical Spinner’s Guide – Rare Luxury Fibers, is a good resource for feltability of different fibers and cleaning information.

      • 9. JohnM  |  September 18, 2019 at 11:43 am

        thank you for your reply, that is good to know, I wasn’t sure if i needed to separate it like you did, I haven’t cleaned it yet or anything, its so interesting there is like 3 different levels of wool, downy, medium and some straight ones that are super coarse. I don’t mind it if its a bit itchy, hopefully these coarse ones make it more durable. I’ll look for that book, thanks!

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