Re-Visiting Laughing Goat Fiber Farm

I previously visited the Laughing Goat Fiber Farm in January when it was snowy. Visiting in Summer is beautiful and it was great to see and interact with the fiber animals again.

Pasture at Laughing Goat Fiber Farm; Photo Courtesy David Arellanes
Pasture at Laughing Goat Fiber Farm; Photo Courtesy David Arellanes

I’m currently hand-knitting a cashmere sweater from cashmere fibers of this farm. The cashmere is grey, a mix of black and white fibers from different goats. Removing the guard hairs (ie de-hairing) the cashmere fibers has been a time consuming task, but the knitting is coming out nicely.

Winding cashmere; Photo Courtesy David Arellanes
Winding cashmere; Photo Courtesy David Arellanes
Knitting cable; Photo Courtesy David Arellanes
Knitting cable; Photo Courtesy David Arellanes

I’ve knitted this sweater design before, and it took about 70 hours. I feel like this time it is taking twice as long with the extra de-hairing step. I don’t mind since it’s part of the process. Now I will never forget that cashmere also comes with shorter pointy hairs that have to be removed to bring out that soft lushness of cashmere.

Progress knitting with cashmere; Photo Courtesy David Arellanes
Progress knitting with cashmere; Photo Courtesy David Arellanes

On my visit, I fed pellets to baby cashmere goats and admired their soft coats.

Feeding cashmere baby goats Candy (white) and Dana (brown); Photo Courtesy David Arellanes
Feeding cashmere baby goats Candy (white) and Dana (brown); Photo Courtesy David Arellanes

I also saw them grazing on the grass pasture, something that was not available in Winter when I previously visited. They looked very calm and peaceful.

Cashmere goat grazing; Photo Courtesy David Arellanes
Cashmere goat grazing; Photo Courtesy David Arellanes
Angora goat grazing; Photo Courtesy David Arellanes
Angora goat grazing; Photo Courtesy David Arellanes

Their fibers are more than just “raw fibers.” The animals themselves and their fibers both have intangible value since they contribute to the health of the local ecosystem. As these animals graze in rotation, they fertilize the land and contribute to the natural cycles. Their fiber fineness contributes to our “needs” to wear soft, warm clothing to protect our bodies. The “fine” qualities of these fibers shouldn’t be taken for granted. These animals are providing a regenerative service by continually producing their “fine” fibers. It provides stronger rationale to treasure clothes made of animal fibers.

The connection between clothing and the raw material source is important to acknowledge since all clothes have distinct narratives. Discovering these narratives can induce greater knowledge and appreciation for the true worth of our clothes and all of the people involved in the production process. The experience of knitting a sweater made from a local fiber farm has certainly led me to consider the entire life cycle of my clothes. This includes the time and effort that goes into each production step, my use, care, and the “end-of-life.” Which for the most part, is my closet.

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