Odeur De Chèvre

Tuesdays are for spinning are back here chez Harlot, now that the book is finished and the whole world of possibilities leaps in front of me. My time is my own again (well, except for writing a Christmassy speech to give at the Launch tomorrow, the absolutely disgusting condition of the house and the way I have an entire inbox full of email I haven’t answered.) and I’ve plunked myself in front of the wheel to begin the Christmas spinning that is the preamble to Christmas knitting. (Because you know, having 19 days to knit all this stuff somehow feels totally reasonable. Welcome to phase one. We shall be discussing “IT” tomorrow evening at the launch.)

I fetched up today’s roving,


which is the goat from Kazakhstan that Ben brought me back. This goat is what I shall henceforth refer to as “rustic”. You can see the guard hairs and if you were here, I assure you that you could smell the rustic. (I’ll never wonder again what a central asian goat smells like.) Now, despite being a fan of merino and silk and wonderful soft not-at-all-rustic fibres, I like this roving. It’s got character and I like knowing that it was made by a person, not a machine and I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with that. It does mean though, that trying to spin it like it’s a commercial soft fibre is likely a pretty bad idea. I decided that the best thing to do with it was to embrace the rusticness, since goodness knows that the resulting yarn will need to be sort of tough, since it will probably have to be washed 478 times to get the unholy reek of goat off of it.

I chunky singles yarn seemed to be the answer, and I spun me a bobbin full. (If you’ve been spinning laceweight for a while, this just flies.)


Nice eh? I like it too, though the “odeur de chèvre” was amplified by the act of drafting and spinning. While it was darned nice, it isn’t a chunky weight. Maybe a worsted. This messed with my plan a little but I could still make it work. I thought about plying it to make it a chunky, but I thought it would then be too thick. I put it on my niddy noddy,


and went into the kitchen to steam it to set the twist.

I held it over the steaming kettle and the second that the hot moist air hit it…two things happened pretty much simultaneously. First, the fibre relaxed and became inexplicably thinner…and secondly, the smell that came off the goat just about gassed me into merciful unconsciousness.

I reeled and choked, my hair uncurled while my eyes watered. The cat came rushing in to see what herd of livestock was stampeding through the kitchen and stood there screeching hostile meows as I attempted to stay on my feet holding the singles in the steam. The malodorous funk that came off of the fibre was so potent that I swear to you that it just about had a texture and a colour.

I panicked. I turned around, filled the sink with hot water and lemon dishsoap and tossed the skein in at an arms length. The singles sank below the water emitting a cloud of citrus scented goat stink that will probably linger in the house for months. (Can you imagine? All of my visitors sort of coming in, breathing the air and then frowning a little while wondering what the (*&^! Joe and I do with pet goats in our spare time.) I sat on the floor.

Then I opened a window. Then I opened all of the windows and turned on the stove exhaust fan. Then I left.

When I returned, the water in the sink was the exact colour of tea that you left in the pot for 16 days, complete with an iridescent slick of perplexing and noxious oil floating across the surface. I emptied the sink and washed it again.

Four washes later the cat lost interest and I decided to risk breathing through my nose. It smells better, though still a little whiffy. (I dried it outside, after a friend snatched me back from the edge of disaster. She called as I was about to put it on a heating vent. That would have been something to smell. I bet my neighbours would have called.)


The only issue now is that the yarn was apparently so embedded with dirt that having been washed, what was a worsted weight is now not even sport. It’s like it was 50% SMELL by volume. There isn’t enough of the roving (I have no idea how I will get through washing the next lot) to just throw this away, so I need a plan to salvage it.

Can I re-spin, add twist and then ply? Can I rent a gas mask?

(Can I really give this to someone for Christmas?)

Blanket Race:


Days: 7

Balls of yarn knit up: 6.5 (I know. I’m falling behind. I was distracted by the reek of wild goats in my freaking kitchen.)

Balls left to go: 12.5

Babies weights: They have each gained 40g

Mood: Pretty good. You don’t think the goat smell got on the blankets do you?