In a previous post I said I was contacting a farmer about getting some alpaca fleece. Well this weekend our new tent arrived so me and Dave decided to go camping on the lake near where the farmer lived. On Sunday afternoon we met the farmer at his beautiful house right on Lough Derravaragh. First of all he brought us into the field to meet the alpaca. They had just been sheared on Friday and were looking pretty silly. They're quite small fellas and very cute. They came over to see us, apparently they're quite inquisitive and they weren't scared. He says he keeps them for interest and to scare the foxes away from the sheep when they're lambing. They chase foxes and predators away. He started with two and there are now five of them.
We ended up buying five fleeces from the five alpaca he had. This included a baby alpaca fleece. It's soft, crimpy, lovely and seems to be really good quality. There are two white ones and the others are lovely orange/brown colours. He showed us a lovely throw and cushion he had made by a spinner from the fleece. They were so soft and warm, it must be lovely to be warmed by a throw made from your own alpaca fleece. In the picture you can see some of the locks.
So today I set to work processing the fleece. I took a small amount to run through the process and see if there were any problems with it. I don't want to ruin a whole load of it or make lots of work for myself so I did a trial run. Some people spin alpaca as is without washing first. I decided not to. Alpaca like to roll in the dust and you don't know what they've been rolling in and I didn't want dust all over the place and getting into the bearing of my wheel.
I emptied one fleece out on a big bag and started sorting through it. I took out any obvious dirty bits and put handfuls of locks into a bucket. I then picked at the locks and took off any short bits and dirt. There wasn't so much dirt which is great. I put them into laundry bags and then soaked the bags in hot soapy water for fifteen minutes. The water got pretty dirty and grey. I then rinsed the bags in clean water.
After this I squeezed the bags in a towel before taking the fleece out and putting it on a towel on a rack to dry. For the next go I'll probably just put the locks directly into the laundry bags. I think I'll get a load more laundry bags and wash a load of fleece in the bath. Hopefully I can get them all clean and dry so that I can store it away until it's time to spin them.
I think you can expect to hear a lot more about alpaca fibre preparation and spinning in the next while. I think all this fleece should keep me busy for some time to come.
Five Bags Full Labels: Alpaca, Spinning | 13 comments»
June 22, 2009 at 12:07 PM