Friday, October 24, 2008

preparing alpaca for spinning

Comments are always welcome here, and I do try to personally email a reply and answer as many as I can...forgive me if I owe you one ...I'm not as quick on the draw as I once was! I am working my way through my inbox and hope to get to yours soon- if I have not already.

One comment that I have been meaning to address is one from Knitchick, who was wondering how I am preparing the alpaca for spinning....

You may have said this before, but how do you prepare it? Do you wash it? Card it? I've been spinning it raw, but I really can't imagine doing that on the GW. I will answer this question in a post... I continue to work with Violette's blanket. Oh, by the case you have not met Violette yet, here is a nice photo of her. She lives a happy life at Finca Alta Vista farm.


I have been processing this fleece entirely by hand. I have not washed it before working with it. This is a lovely cria blanket, very clean in comparison to other alpaca I have worked with.

First I select a small bundle of locks...about as much as you can fit in a coffee mug (for lack of a better reference). I then flick the ends, and set this bunch aside to spin as prime. I spin it directly from the locks as described here.

But what to do with all the leftovers that remain behind in the flicker? Some of it has small bits of VM and chaff. But not enough to make it objectionable. Slowly, I have accumulated a bag full of these combings. I decide to pick it, and send it through the drum carder.


Next, I spin it on the Great Wheel. I can draw out a good length... 5 to 6 feet of very thin yarn, and as I do this, I can inspect it before winding on the spindle. Because the wool is drawn out so thin, most of the hay like bits fall out on the way to the twist.

Some of the slubs that have trapped chaff or short cuts are then picked at a time, before winding on. Tedious. If this blanket had been sent out to be commercially processed, I doubt if the yield would be the same. I hate to waste perfectly good fiber just because of a little VM....but I do admit this method is very time consuming...The results are pretty much what I am looking for, so time is a trade off for quality.


The Great Wheel spun cops move to the Ashford for plying. Mostly because I have better control on that wheel, and don't have to deal with dropping and crossing the drive band on the Great Wheel.


The above photo illustrates an example of both styles of prep and spinning. The one on the left is the drum card prep...and the one on the right is spun from the locks. Both skeins have been spun on the Great Wheel.


elizabeth said...

That great wheel is really awesome.

When are you going to get fiber animals? Don't you think you need a farm?!?! ;o)

pacalaga said...

Wow, Elizabeth is going to enable you right into a flock of critters! ;-)
That is some beautiful spinning, there.

Jody said...

I like the look of the skein spun from the lock. I hand card and comb my alpaca fleeces and I still luv the combed stuff better. I do keep my waste (especially my cria fleeces) and use it for carding or blending. I also use my Ashford traddy with a bulky flier for plying :)

vanessa said...

wow, i'm with jody, that skein from the locks is gorgeous. so squishy.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Mercy, tedious this does sound. I am always amazed at the amount of work you do Cyndy. The beauty and quality of yarn is outstanding. Then you knit or crochet things. Simply amazing to me.

Judy said...

I have to agree with everyone that the skein spun from the locks is the best. But hey cria aplpaca in gray how much better can you get?!

KnitChick said...

Beautiful!! Thanks for the tutorial! I'm of several different minds on what's the best way to spin alpaca, and since I have so much of it coming my way right now, I'm looking for all the suggestions I can find. I like the flicking idea though...have some gorgeous long staple gray coming my way...I do have some samples I want to play with though...I asked her not to do anything with it until I can choose a direction.

Kath said...

Yup, that yarn spun from the locks looks squishier somehow - not that the other isn't lovely too! Love the Fall colours in your last post - are Sassafras leaves all mitten shaped? I've just shown DD and Hubby in excitement and Hubby has helpfully added that it would be more impressive to find a hand shaped like a leaf! Men! Still I think its neat!

Leigh said...

Great post!

June said...

This is simply awesome, and I thank you so much for this post. I have never seen spinning off the point before . . . it's all about learning I think! :)

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