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Fiber Friends

Here at Mulberry Marsh we keep half a dozen sheep, Shetlands and FinnSheep, along with two alpacas, Machu and Picchu. Blending the wool from the sheep, which is lofty and bouncy with a natural crimp in it, with shiny, durable goat mohair, creates a wonderfully soft yet strong yarn with a fine halo from the mohair.  Adding alpaca fiber to the mix adds a whole new dimension of super soft lustre.

There are a plethora of animals from which mankind has been collecting fiber for thousands of years. They range from the exotic to the common, and amongst the common, such as sheep, there are strange and unusual breeds, such as the four-horned pinto colored Jacob Sheep, named from biblical times.

Fiber is collected from many animal families in all reaches of the globe, from the Northern Hemisphere, bison, yak and musk ox to the South American camelids, such as llama, alpaca, guanaco, and vicunas. Then there are goats, Cashmere goats and Angora goats. Angora goats (so-named because they originated in Ankara Turkey) produce mohair, and are not to be confused with Angora Rabbits, same origin as the goat, but whose fiber is simply called ‘angora’.

It is an on-going pleasure and challenge to both grow and discover the great variations in fibers from farms across the region, as well as imported from distant places and cultures. These fibers range from the qiviut fiber of the musk ox by way of the Inuit in Alaska, to the ultra fine wools of the Merino sheep, their breeding finessed by the Australians. The natural palette of all these animals can create an endless supply of colored pattens with nary a dye to be seen. That is the great joy and wonder of these creatures for me.

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