Well, this was the last of the projects I promised in trade for the alpaca fleece!
This last fleece was lovely. The color is actually redder than the scan shows. Four to five inches is pretty much the average length, and the crimp measures eight per inch. As you can see it had some VM. It also had some short cuts. The fleece is fairly consistent throughout, except for a courser section of britch, which is the fiber that grows around the rear end. Even the britch wool was softer than the sheep's wool britch I've seen, but I discarded it anyway.
One thing I have learned from working with alpaca over the past several months, is not to judge the luster until the fleece is washed. Rather than wash the fleece however, I spun it first and then washed the yarn, which proved to have a lovely, subtle luster.
Since I had the made the teddy bear shawl with a bulky handspun, and the alpaca doll and child's cap with a medium weight, I wanted a fine handspun yarn for this last project .
I drum carded the fleece three times and then spun it worsted style on my Kromski Minstrel, with the 8.5:1 ratio whorl. By now I was pretty comfortable spinning this fairly slippery fiber, so the finer yarn was easy to spin. My singles measured 48 wraps per inch, and my 2-ply is 22 wraps per inch.
I washed the yarn in very hot soapy water twice, then rinsed with very hot water as well. The second to the last rinse had a glug of white vinegar in it. The soaking water was very, very dirty, but the yarn washed beautifully.
It took a bit of searching to find the right knitting pattern for this. I really wanted something open and lacy, but to be honest, I really struggle with lace knitting. I seem to make endless mistakes and have to rip out numerous times.
After scouring my knitting books, spinning magazines, and free patterns on the web, I found this Lacy Shawl pattern. The stitch is a very easy *yo, k2tog*, but gave the open look I was looking for.
I knitted a scarf instead of a shawl which was quicker. I used US13 knitting needles.
I admit that I still had some problems, until I began to pay close attention as to how each stitch was made and where the needle needed to be, in relation to the yarn. After that I was able to catch potential problems and correct them before they became actual mistakes.
After blocking the scarf measured about 6 by 54 inches.
I had enough success with it so that I am willing to try this type of knitting again. Perhaps I may conquer it yet. I should probably try to hunt up my Samoyed scarf, which keeps getting abandoned when I become frustrated with the knit 3 togethers. This time I'll even use a lifeline.
I have absolutely loved working with this fiber. I have learned a lot and my spinning skills have grown. But then, that's one of the joys of handspinning, isn't it?
Posted 1 Sept. 2007 at http://leighsfiberjournal.blogspot.com
2nd Summer Project - Alpaca
Alpaca Project #2
Alpaca Tri-loom Teddy Bear Shawl