The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Local spinners, knitters come together


Ian Minielly/Daily Globe

RACHEL BRAND is spinning alpaca fur into yarn Saturday, outside Nanette's Knits and Gifts in Wakefield. The spinner holds the hair in their hand, elongating the fur as they pump the wheel and a bobbin places the tight fur into yarn. Jackie Basset says even the inexperienced can spin, but they will make thicker yarn until they get better and more proficient.


Wakefield — Nanette’s Knits and Gifts sponsored an educational fiber demonstration Saturday in Wakefield by inviting three fiber groups to join her for some outdoor knitting on World Wide Knits in Public day. The fiber knitting groups came together from Woodruff, Presque Isle, and of course Wakefield.

Nanette Paquette owns seven alpacas, becoming an alpaca owner in 2009. Paquette shears and turns their fur into yarn, which she sells in her store. According to Paquette, alpacas are calming and curious animals and she does not breed hers, instead turning the gentlemen alpacas into geldings. Paquette recently shaved her alpacas down and is in the process of turning their fur into yarn.

Denise Engel brought her angora rabbit and talked about the rabbit’s fur. Engel said some people shave their rabbits, but then you have to put clothes on them to keep them warm. Engel instead chooses to pluck her rabbit. The rabbit is ready every 3-4 months for a good plucking, which only removes the loose hair and is gentle on the rabbit. After ten minutes of plucking, which is all she and the rabbit can stand in one sitting, Engel says she has a nice ball of fur ready to get spun.

The third fiber of the day was wool and Jackie Basset was spinning a bundle of wool into yarn inside. Basset says she got into spinning 40 years ago when she was raising fish. The grass around the fish ponds always needed cutting and she grew tired of cutting it and someone suggested she get some sheep.

Five sheep later, Basset no longer had to worry about cutting the grass, but now she had piles of wool she had to figure out what to do with. A man in Colorado offered to show Basset how to spin and she took up the hobby. Today Basset lacks sheep of her own, but she gets wool from her daughter that also spins and has her own sheep.

For those not in the know, angora and alpaca are not woven into socks or sweaters on their own because they lack elasticity and would flare out becoming fluffy and floppy without any staying power, said Engel. A person making angora socks for example, mixes the fibers together as they weave the garment. The wool, which is what is usually joined with the other natural fibers, provides elasticity and tension so the product keeps its shape while the angora or alpaca provides the soft fluffy comfort and heat people crave, according to Engel.


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