Thursday, August 09, 2007

Alpaca Project #2

By Leigh

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.

Samples from a fawn alpaca fleece.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.

2 yarn colors from one fleece.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.

Child's alpaca cap.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

Related Posts:
2nd Summer Project - Alpaca
Alpaca Tri-loom Teddy Bear Shawl
Last of the Alpaca Projects


Sheepish Annie said...

That is absolutely beautiful yarn! I admire your diligence in picking out the guard hairs. I'm sure it was worth every minute it took to get it just right!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful yarn love the look and the color. The hat is also wonderful. I know what you mean about guard hairs, they really bother me.

Tina T-P said...

Well, you've sure been busy! I love the Christmas Afghan - and the alpaca hat will make a nice present for someone on your list, I'll bet.

You were brave to move that little possum down off you deck - did he spit at you a bit or was he pretty glad to get down to terra firma? What a surprise that must have been to look out the window & see it tho...

We're going to the neighboring county fair on Saturday - our NW Wash. Shetland breeders are having a little show in conjunction with the fair sheep show. I'm going to take my spinning wheel - maybe I'll get some hints by the other people there. T.

Sharon said...

I sent some alpaca off to Morro Fleeceworks to be blended with Ramboulliet, as I just can't get the hang of working with drapy alpaca yarns. Congratulations on the hat!

Leigh said...

I appreciate the vote of confidence! Actually Sharon, I haven't worked with the alpaca enough yet to figure out that it's drapiness is a factor. As with most things, I simply plow through as I'm used to and only stop to reconnoiter when I run into problems!

Tina, the little possum was frightened but very shy. We once had a family of possums living under our bunny shed and they would boldly venture out to eat the crumbs the bunnies dropped. They thought they were very brave by opening their mouths wide to show off their tiny teeth. This one just tried to hide. All I had to do was put a bowl of catfood in the cat carrier and wait for his hunger to take over. After that I slipped out and closed it up. After I opened the door he scurried off as fast as he could!

P.S. The next night he climbed back onto the balcony to look for more food!

Cathy said...

Lovely alpaca spinning! Lovely hat. The colors are wonderful.

Kristi aka Fiber Fool said...

I love the sheen you caught in the photo of the yarn. The two-colored hat looks great too!

Anonymous said...

That is a lovely hat and a fantastic way to present your work. I am going to try that in the future.
Love the way you spin and weave and the amount of projects you manage to complete.

Woolly Bits said...

nice hat! I am still working on my dubbelmossa from ready-bought alpaca yarn that I brought from wales last year - only, I think I have to start again - or find a troll with a rather large head to wear it:))

bspinner said...

Your yarn is gorgeous!!! I love the hat in two colors and admire you for picking out the guard hairs while you were knitting. They can be a pain.

Cathy said...

Wow, Leigh, I'm gone for a few days and in that time you finish an afghan, spin a couple of fleece samples and make a beautiful hat! The afghan is wonderful and I'm so envious that you have achieved perfect selvedges!

cyndy said...

Beautiful spinning! Lovely knitting! I am smiling at the thought of you using the tweezers! Where there is a will there is a way....;-)