Wednesday, June 17, 2009

washing wool

Fortunately the weather's been great this past week so I've managed to dye another few pounds of yarn and fleece for the fall. I think between Betsy and I, we've washed about 60 pounds so far...another 40 or so to go and then the blending and carding begins!
Anyway, because washing fiber has been top of mind for me these past few weeks, I found it interesting to read this week that the Mongolian nomads wash their camel fiber in mare's milk! I guess you use what you have available and since water is in shorter supply on the steppes of the Gobi desert and horses are plentiful...? I also discovered that fermented mare's milk is what the Mongolian nomads drink for nutrition. It's called airag. And despite that the Mongolian nomads have the highest incidence of liver cirrhosis in the world (they are said to drink up to 5 litres of this slightly alcoholic beverage a day), apparently this beverage is experiencing renewed popularity in other parts of the world since the fermentation process converts the high lactose content to lactic acid, making airag drinkable by the lactose intolerant. That is, if they can stomach the taste!
Having had to drink the Turkish version of a fermented milk beverage at age 13 when it was offered to me in the home of some very poor and rural locals in a remote part of Turkey, I can safely say airag won't be making it to my table anytime soon!

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