Harvesting cashmere in Québec
Amélie Blanchard and one of her goats at the annual cashmere harvest. Photos courtesy of Cynthia Macameau.
Canadian handspinner Amélie Blanchard welcomed a large group of happy visitors to her farm in Québec for an annual cashmere harvest last weekend. She says that it is a workday filled with the brushing and cuddling of goats—what fun! This was the third year for the event at La Chèvre d'Oeuvre where Amélie and Sven raise Nubian and Cashmere goats. Each Cashmere goat in their herd typically produces 3 to 8 ounces of fiber each year. Amélie showed the group how to harvest the fine, downy fibers by brushing the goats with a dog comb. The coarser hair remains behind, keeping the goats warm as winter fades into spring. To see more pictures of the day, visit Cynthia va à la ferme.
|Happy goats greeting visitors.|
|Product of the day—cashmere!|
Now that the fiber is harvested, what's next? Amélie says, "After I collect the cashmere, I wash it, keeping all fleeces separate. Each fleece is processed separately at the mill, too, so it comes back in individual bags in cloud. I do this because it really gives me a good idea as to the handle and quality of the individual goats. And the customers can spin 'Noodle,' 'Doodle,' 'Poodle,' 'Toonie,' 'Jinny,' etc. . . . I like to dye some and spin it superfine. I add some to art batts, too."
Amélie started with Cashmere goats in 2010, becoming an enthusiastic handspinner shortly after. She founded the TWIST Fibre Festival in St-André-Avellin, between Montreal and Ottawa. A first-class event, this year's festival will have 40 workshops, more than 125 vendors, and much more. TWIST will be held August 22‒23, 2015, with full details coming in May. You can follow the event on Facebook and Ravelry.