Skein Competition at SAFF

Just got my skeins back from the SAFF skein competition. I left early and missed the judging so was very surprised to open the returned box:

CHOCOLATE MINT: Kid Mohair, dyed, Navajo Plyed

VERY VIOLET: Kid Mohair, dyed, spun from locks, single

ARABIAN NIGHTS: Kid Mohair and Silk, dyed, carded, single

MARLED LOCKS: Kid Mohair & Moorit Wensleydale, natural, spun from locks, single


Attended SAFF (Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair) in Fletcher, NC for the second year.   I signed up for a corespinning workshop by Esther Rodgers.  Hope to spend more time corespinning the beautiful kid mohair fleeces that I picked up at the fleece sale.  I was interested in learning more about corespinning as it allows for maximizing expensive fibers.  Rather than losing fiber to the center of the yarn(where no one can see it), the luxury fiber is spun around a core of inexpensive or less attractive yarn.  It’s economical and functional. The finished yarns look a little different than yarns spun from the locks, as the fibers lay on the core at a 90-60 degree angle.
Yarn spun from locks has a more acute angle and looks more linear.


I went back to the sales arenas several times. It’s hard to take it all in. One go round I just looked at fleeces. There is the official fleece sale and the many vendors who offer fleeces. I was looking for mohair from Naumman Angoras and maybe a Cormo fleece. I bought two kid mohair fleeces from the sale… beautiful. I haven’t seen many long wool fleeces, no Wensleydale or Teeswater. Though breeders that attend will often bring them, if purchased ahead of time.  If you’re shopping for Alpaca or Icelandic or Merino, you’ll find a lot to look over. After I left the sale, I found a booth with the most gorgeous Cormo/BFL fleeces.They were huge and out of my price range for the whole fleece, but Tina at Dry Creek Naturals was kind enough to split one, I almost hate to wash it it’s so clean and beautifully sheared and skirted. The locks are amazing.

The color is what stands out: bins of dyed locks, balls of roving and top, miles of skeins, every color yarn you can imagine. Lots of beautifully dyed commercial yarns and exciting handspun yarns and finished garments to show them all off. There’s all the equipment from big suppliers and small shops; wheels to needles. Everything and everyone is there.

I missed the animals this year. I just ran out of time. But the barns are full of alpacas, sheep, goats, and rabbits. There are competitions going on all the time; animal judging, fleece judging and skein and garment competitions. Where else can you see it all from animal to finished object. It’s all connected by the most amazing threads.

Can’t wait until next year!

Finn Fleece at Carolina Fiber Fest

Went to the Carolina Fiber Fest in Sanford, NC.  Hope to purchase some kid mohair fleece, but instead I found quite a bit of Finnsheep fleece.  I purchased a Border Leicester/Finn Cross that was dark brown and two white Finn fleeces.  On wash day, I separated the locks and loosely stitched them into net pouches to wash them. Unlike the kid mohair I’m used to, the Finn felts very easily.  Maybe there will be an application for that in the future. I wound up drum carding the fibers, then pulling roving from the drum.  Here are the results.  See them on Etsy too!

Natural Finnsheep

Natural Finnsheep


Spun thick/thin, 2 ply

Spun thick/thin, 2 ply

Natural FinnsheepNatural Finnsheep

Spun thick/thin, auto wrapped

Spun thick/thin, auto wrapped

Wash and Dye Day

Just received 4 lbs. of yearling mohair fleece. I don’t see much vm, just some dirt.  Dumped the whole load onto the floor and it all looks good, not many second cuts.  I’m using crab boiling pots to wash the fleece. I have two. I fill the first with water as hot as the tap allows and then I boil a kettle and pour that in to raise the temp to around 130-140 degrees. To the hot water I add four squirts of Kookaburra Scour.  I like the smell better than Power Scour.

Soap and Water

Soap and Water

About half the load or 2lbs of fleece go into the hot soapy water. Set the timer and let is sit for 20 minutes or more. Do not let it cool off in the wash water.  Don’t forget it. The yolk that is melting off will reattach and be very difficult to remove on a subsequent attempts.

Adding Fiber

Soaking in Soapy WaterTo speed the wash process up I’ve filled a second pot with hot water, soap and the last    2 lbs. of fiber.  Set the timer for 20 minutes.

Two batches of wash.

Two batches of wash.

By now the first batch had released a lot of dirt.

First Wash

First Wash

When the first batch is ready to drain I take it outside and pour through a strainer.  Press a few times to remove excess water. Then repeat. In the second wash, use half as much soap, the same hot water and same wash time. At the end of 20 minutes the water is dirty but relatively clear. Again, drain outside. To rinse the fleece, add more hot water to the pot and soak in water for 15 minutes or more. Drain. Continue to rinse in hot water until it is clear.  Check the fiber and be sure it feels clean, not sticky.

Dry Washed FleeceSecond Wash

At this point the wet fleece can be set outside to dry or left in hot water waiting for the dye pot.

Finished wash
Dyed whole 4lbs of fiber using commercial acid dyes.  Brown Dyepot
The dark brown is the first fiber to enter the dyepot. The light purple is the result of fiber added in the near exhausted pot of brown dye. Using natural transitions, the next dye added was red and blue for a deep purple. Adding more fiber, attaining lighter colors and the dyebath exhausts.  When all the dye has attached to the fiber the water is clear again.
Now yellow with a bit of blue and brown go in.  A golden green results.

Green Dye Pot

I usually have two dye pots going at the same time.  One for cool color transitions the other for warm colors.  At the end of the day all the dyed fleece is set outside on sweater racks to dry.

New Yarn Spun from Locks

Silk and Kid Mohair locks, hand dyed and lightly picked apart.  Spun in singles.

Dyeing with Lichen

Lichen is everywhere around here. I can collect it off the ground in my backyard.  But I’d rather use collecting as an excuse to get to the swamp.

Cypress Swamp

Cypress Swamp

There wasn’t as much lying on the ground as I remember from past visits. But with more time spent scouring the ground for fallen bits and encrusted dead branches, two loosely filled 1 gallon bags were eventually collected.Lichen Project -5


On returning home, all the fresh lichen was dumped into a large pot of water and simmered for a few hours then strained. collected lichen

Handfuls of wetted locks are added over time to get some color variation.

Simmering Lichen

Simmering Lichen

Not only does the lichen dye the fiber a lovely color, it also imparts a very pleasant scent, sweet and earthy and it doesn’t dissipate.Caramel Locks 2 Caramel Locks Close Caramel Locks Skein

Rambouillet and Finn

Two new singles skeins, one spun from carded Rambouillet; the other from Finn fleece.

Frosty Violet Spiral

Shades of purple from lavender to violet to deep aubergine, corespun on mohair then spiral plied with commercial silk.

Welcome To Gray Moon Fiber Studio

Thanks for stopping by. Navigate the various menus above to see the current stock of handspun and hand dyed yarns. Most of the yarns are spun from Kid Mohair, either 100% or blended with one of the softer longwools like Teeswater or Wensleydale or maybe Blue Faced Leceister. Tussah silk is another addition to many of the prespun fibers.

Currently available are singles spun from locks, singles spun from combed or carded locks and a few 2-ply yarns.

All the skeins are for sale on GRAYMOONFIBERS Etsy Shop. Visit often to see what’s new.