Well, I've still got Shetland on my mind, but I am trying to be diligent to finish up the projects I promised in trade for all those Alpaca fleeces. Of the four chosen specifically for sample projects, I have finished two, the felted Alpaca doll, and the knitted child's cap. I've decided that the next project needs to be a handwoven one, so the preparations have begun.
This fleece is more consistent in color, staple length, and overall texture than the other two I've worked with so far. It is also more Huacaya-like to my mind, though I don't really have enough experience working with raw Alpaca to assume I actually know what I'm talking about here(!)
The fiber is soft, with a vague crimp at about 5 per inch, with no grease or luster. It contains very little VM (vegetable matter), no bugs, mud, or other biological nasties. It is very open and very easy to work with. Being mostly about three inches in length, it would have been a good choice for handcarding. However, I need to press on with this project, so I ran it through my drum carder twice, and then it was ready to spin.
Since I was planning to weave a teddy bear shawl of this on my triloom, I wanted a bulky yarn. The cap is knitted in a medium weight handspun, so I figured this one will be bulky weight, and then the last one will be finer.
It spins like a dream, but after awhile, I was a little dismayed to realize that I had been spinning with a dirty thumb and forefinger ......
Had I accidentally gotten oil on them when I oiled my wheel? Hmm. I need to be more careful. I washed my hands and resumed spinning. Much to my surprise, a little while later they were dirty again. That's when I realized that just because the fleece wasn't greasy, didn't mean that it wasn't dirty! Most of my spinning experience has been with sheep's wool (always with at least some grease and the dirt which sticks to it) and Angora rabbit (never greasy and rarely dirty with actual dirt.) The only other raw alpaca I've handled was from Florida so it was sandy. These are from North Carolina however, and while the first two were a little dusty, this one is downright filthy! So I've learned something important here.
Had I realized this before I started spinning, I would have definitely washed the fleece first. However, since I was already in route, I chalked it up to "I'll know better next time" and finished the yarn.
After I finished spinning and had skeined the yarn, I gave it two thorough, very hot soapy soaks and three hot water rinses. I was delighted at how lovely the fiber was under all that dirt: very soft, silky, and with some luster after all.
The singles for the yarn on the left were spun at 14 wraps per inch. The 2 ply measures 7 WPI.
Next will be the weaving of it. More on that and how it turned out here.
Posted 18 Aug. 2007 at http://leighsfiberjournal.blogspot.com
Alpaca Tri-loom Teddy Bear Shawl
2nd Summer Project - Alpaca
Alpaca Project #2
Last of the Alpaca Projects