Alpaca escapades

A week ago, I scouted out the local knitting group at Gallery Vertigo. I came home with a new hobby and another friend, Glenda. Well! Glenda has another friend who owns two Alpacas. These two cuties were “rescues”, since one has odd little feet and the other was semi-blind (ie not good breeding animals). Anyhow, last spring they were sheared and Glenda’s friend offered to trade us a couple of bags of the fiber for a few skeins of spun fiber.
Easy Peasy. Woo Hoo. Oh yes, we were on it.
Poof! Yesterday, Liz and I visited our newest fiber-mad acquaintance, Laverne, who graciously guided us through his magical half-acre property, with creeks and silky chickens running about, and finally to his two gorgeous Alpacas. It’s like mini-utopia.
How to make a story short? After Laverne’s gifts of tea served with his homemade honey and thyme truffles, Liz and I exited with TWO BAGS FULL of soft (straw-laden) fibre.
Oh, we are in heaven.
After dyeing some of Liz’s homespun wool in koolaid, I drove home and dove into my own bit of our new fiber treasure.
By 8 pm I have two small heaps of soft… soft…. soft clean and carded alpaca sitting on my counter. Keep in mind we are beginners, so any recommendations about spinning, carding and cleaning fibers are welcome.

First attempt at Alpaca

( my very own spinning wheel will hopefully arrive SOON!)
Liz emails me to say she has washed an entire tubful of alpaca and has it sitting on her mesh drying rack. Didn’t I just leave her place?
I bet Liz already has some spun on her purring Ashford spinning wheel this morning.
I just know it.
This is the result of so many hours of shaking, washing, drying, carding, tweezering and spinning. Seriously, I actually used tweezers to try and get the teeny, tiny, prickly grass bits out of our alpaca fiber. We are not too sure when to stop and say, “You win!” to those pesky pieces. Otherwise, this alpaca gift would be heaven. Zoom in on the white carded alpaca, and one can see those, “Oh,so annoying” grass bits. I think we may have cried because of those darn things. We were so close! To view more photos, please see February 2010 archives.

Holy smokes, batman! Washing, rinsing, drying, shaking, fluffing, teasing and I still have “particles” in the alpaca fleece. And it’s no where near the spinning wheel.
If I wanted to guess when this lovely process will be finished, it could be another month. I had NO idea how much work it was to clean two beautiful bags of soft, but oh… so… dirty alpaca fleece. Next spring, I’m going to find out if those two lovelies can be brushed before I get their fiber.
I have visions of alpaca poop particles zipping through my house ducting and I’m not so happy with that vision. It’s too cold outside to clean this loverly fiber, so I’ve been trying to do it in the kitchen sink, and drying it over the heat register in the laundry room. Ewww. Not so sure about all this. Now I know why people send their fleece to a mill to have it cleaned.
Anyhow, I’m still at it: between Christmas, visitors, work, the cold weather, other hobbies (as one can see)and an ill friend, I am determined to get through these bags of straw-laden alpaca treasure.

Hours of cleaning and more to go...

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