Friday, April 11, 2008

Yes sir, yes sir! Three bags full!

I had every intention of posting these photos earlier this week. Didn't happen. It's been a bear of a week. Rather than bore you with a monologue of everything I've dealt with, I'll just post photos of fiber and finished yarn. Much better!!

I fluffed and aired out the fleece. A huge improvement from when I purchased it. I had that "what have I done??" feeling as I opened the bags when I got home. The fleece was damp and just didn't look good. (Damp because of all the stinkin' rain we had last week!)

Ok, this is the Bag 1, Mr. Crete. He's a white llama with tan spots. He is really about half and half. His fleece is quite long and curly. There's a lot of fiber in this bag. Maybe 3 pounds or more. He was shorn last Friday.
Close up of Mr. Crete. YUM! So soft. This is the fleece that did me in. This is from "Just Call Me Black", who is a black male alpaca. He is jet black and so soft. The brown on the fleece is dust. Dude really liked to roll in the dirt. Last summer was so dry that it's no wonder he was really dusty down deep. There are about 2 1/2 pounds in this bag. Isn't he glossy?Firefly, a male alpaca, donated this bag. This is from last year's shearing so I got a pretty good deal on it. Since it was dry and didn't need any airing out, I decided to spin a bit of this straight from the locks. I grabbed a handful out of the bag and set about to pick out the vegetable matter (VM). That was not an easy task, as the VM is about the same color as the fiber. I was able to shake soem of it loose, but the smaller bits required a tweezer.

After I got it fairly clean, I washed it. I put the fleece in a colander and set the colander in a sink full of room temperature water. I let it soak for about 15 minutes, then changed the water and soaked it again. I did this about 4 or 5 times, until the water was relatively clean. For the last soak, I used a little dab of wool wash to make it smell a little less like a dusty alpaca. I was very careful not to agitate the fiber or run water directly on it.
I set it out in the sun to dry. Every so often I would fluff and pick and turn the fleece. It didn't take too terribly long to dry.

Now for the fun part--spinning! I didn't comb the fleece or do any additional preparation. I just spun "woolen" directly from the fluff of fleece. It was a bit slow because I was still picking VM as I was spinning. I had to draft with my left hand in front, and in my right hand I held a tweezer to pick the VM while fluffing the fiber for drafting. I tried to keep it fairly thin, but it was a bit tricky. I think this fleece might be the entire alpaca rather than just the blanket. There were quite a bit of shorter, or second cuts that slowed me down.
I plied the yarn and ended up with an ounce of pure alpaca softness! I particularly like the light and dark. The color is a rich caramel with a touch of vanilla streaks. It's totally yummy. Up next: a swatch knitted from this alpaca sample.

After that: spinning a carded batch of alpaca (I bought a set of antique carders off ebay...$10! Woo hoo!)

The weather promises to be completely sucky this weekend so I can't wash the rest of the fleece. It's only supposed to get into the low 50s tomorrow and even colder on Sunday. How, pray tell, can we go from 80 degrees one day to a chance of SNOW (yes, snow!) showers 2 days later? I'm glad I'm not one of those sorry suckers who planted pretty spring flowers last weekend. Will they never learn? I guess memories fade in the presence of trays of impatiens, petunias and marigolds. Fools. They'll be lucky if they don't end up with a garden of ectoplasmicky muck by Monday. (Similar to what you find in the veggie drawer of the fridge when you forget about the lettuce you bought a couple weeks ago...nasty!)

I guess this means I don't have to mow the lawn. A good weekend for dyeing!


goodnessgraciousWV said...


Your first alpaca spun from the locks was waaayy better than MY first attempt at same. Your mom & dad told me about your adventures when I saw them last Sunday at church.

:) grace

Yarn Tails said...

That is some GORGEOUS bags of fiber yumminess! Very nice spinning!