My summer alpaca projects are moving right along. The second fleece I had to work with was a lovely fawn fleece with quite a range of color variation. In my research I have learned that alpaca wool comes in 22 natural colors and that these can be blended to create many, many more. I could probably get quite a few from this fleece alone.
As you can see, there is some crimp to it, especially in the tips. The fiber is fine and silky, and has some luster after it is washed. However it also has some hair-like fibers that I'm assuming are guard hair. Though black, they aren't especially coarse and there weren't a lot of them, so I didn't worry about them. I chose handfuls of the different colors and drum carded them all together.
Four runs through my Strauch Petite blended the color beautifully. I spun this worsted with a lot of twist. My plan was to use the yarn for a small knitted project. My singles measured 24 WPI, and the 2-ply, 14 WPI.
Actually I ended up spinning two yarns, because once I started knitting with the first yarn (on the right) I felt that the guard hairs were not acceptable! There were not many, but they compromised the softness of the yarn and I wasn't happy about that.
For the second skein I laid the fleece out again and picked out parts that didn't have as much guard hair. I processed and spun it the same way as the first skein, but this time I had a yarn a few shades darker.
As it was, I ended up using them both anyway. The two colors were so lovely together that I couldn't resist. I knitted this child's cap from the "Infinitely Adjustable Hat" pattern in Lee Raven's Hands On Spinning. I used the lighter yarn for the brim, and the darker for the body of the cap. The pom pom is made from the two yarns together.
Yes, those guard hairs still bothered me, so I sat there with a tweezers while I knitted and pulled most of them out as I came to them! This improved it tremendously and the cap is silkier and smoother to touch than the yarn. In my research I learned that alpaca rarely has guard hair, but the color and silkiness of the fiber made it worth the extra effort.
Even though alpaca yarn isn't very elastic, this knit 2 purl 2 ribbing was a good choice as the cap has a lot of stretch to it.
For my next alpaca project, I plan to spin a bulky yarn for weaving. I rarely weave with my handspun, so this will be quite an adventure for me.
Posted 9 Aug. 2007 at http://leighsfiberjournal.blogspot.com
2nd Summer Project - Alpaca
Alpaca Tri-loom Teddy Bear Shawl
Last of the Alpaca Projects