If you visit every local fiber festival and exclaim over a sheep’s crimp, or look at bags of raw fleece in frustration, or vow “Never again!” after a fiber prep experience gone wrong, we’ve got the perfect webinar for you. Join us on August 24 for the live version, or download it at your leisure, to get Courtney Mussatt’s expert advice on choosing, washing, and initially preparing animal fibers. She’ll cover wool, alpaca, mohair, and angora rabbit from harvesting through the cleaning process, so you’ll have fiber that’s ready for further processing at home or a mill.
Courtney shares her story with us:
How and when did you start preparing your own fiber?
I started spinning in 2011 when I received a drop spindle in a swap. The next spring I bought my first raw fleece (from an alpaca named Buster) so I could process and prepare it just how I wanted it. There is something special about taking animal fibers from their raw state all the through to a finished piece.
How would you describe your personal style?
Half classic and half fun. I like exciting textures and details that make a finished product interesting but not crazy.
What other creative pursuits do you enjoy?
In addition to processing fiber, I enjoy knitting, spinning, preparing fiber (carding and combing), dyeing yarn, sewing and making jewelry.
Tell us about your fiber studio… what kind of space inspires you?
I have small room on the main floor for fiber preparation (mainly storage, carding, and combing) but most of the fiber processing takes place in the kitchen and screened-in porch. I don’t feel bad about making a mess there!
What’s your fiber processing secret weapon?
A day with a light breeze and low humidity so the fiber can dry outside. And a salad spinner.
How do you stay motivated on long projects?
Break it up into smaller, bite-size pieces. It’s a lot easier to say “I’m going to wash a half pound of fiber today” than “I’m going to wash this whole fleece today.”
What has been your favorite project recently?
I got some amazingly clean raw merino wool online and have enjoyed processing it. I’m excited to start combing it soon for spinning!
What’s your favorite thing you’ve made?
The first pattern I designed for sale (Cinque Terre Cowl) was a cowl from one skein of fingering weight yarn that has a fun texture. So easy to knit and looks amazing.
What would your dream studio look like?
A large, open room with lots of natural light. I would love to be able to keep everything in one room (knitting, spinning, fiber processing, fiber prep, and dyeing) so I would need sinks, a stove, drying space and an area to teach.
How have blogging and owning a business influenced your process?
I think more about what I’m doing so I can explain it to others when teaching or writing. I also take a lot more pictures of what I’m doing!
What’s your current fiber processing soundtrack?
Frequently I listen to knitting and/or spinning podcasts or audiobooks. When I’m writing it’s The Piano Guys or Lindsay Stirling.
Join Courtney on Monday, August 24 at 1 PM Eastern to learn more about how to select and clean animal fibers. To keep up with her adventures in fiber, look for her on Ravelry, Instagram and Twitter as "floofymoose" and follow her blog at floofymoose.wordpress.com.