Thursday, April 03, 2008

Spinning alpaca and silk for Honeycomb

Happy April everyone! The birds are singing their promise of spring outside my window this morning. I have a feeling that maybe spring (real spring with warm weather and sunny days) has arrived. How could it not? It is April now.

You know what's got me extra happy? I bet you can guess. I finished my Kant essay (except for some citation and a desperate need for editing) yesterday afternoon. That's two days earlier than expected. So I decided to reward myself with some spinning.

You see, I'm still obsessing over Honeycomb by Sarah Castor. As I told you before, I still entertain dreams of spinning a yarn that I could use to knit said pattern.

Spinning this fibre is an adventure as the silk is long fibres about four to six inches in length and the alpaca, well, it's at most one and a half inches long. I think I've had this problem before when spinning mixed fibres. If I'm not careful, it drafts out in big slubs which isn't really what I'm after at this point. So the fibre has forced me to slow down and concentrate on my drafting. I can feel myself improving as I go along which is So Martha (as in Martha Steward who always says "it's a good thing" so by saying it's 'so Martha' you are really saying, it's a good thing - don't ask, it's just local slang).

As I'm spinning worsted style, with my one hand holding back the twist and controlling it as it moves along (in simple words, it pinches the yarn), I learned something new about alpaca. Apparently, alpacas are relatively clean animals. They don't have the grease that sheep do, so they don't capture as much dirt in their fleece. Because of that, most places do not wash alpaca before spinning it. Hopefully, that makes alpaca a less expensive fibre to buy, but mostly it just makes my fingers dirty.

That's just ten minutes of spinning folks. Pretty harsh, eh?

Needless to say, I'll wash the yarn before I knit with it.


Josiane said...

Your fingers were as dirty as that after only ten minutes of spinning? Yeah, I would totally wash the yarn before knitting too!
Congratulations on finishing your essay!

Lucy said...

Alpaca makes my fingers that dirty too, and you should see underneath my drumcarder when I've been carding a load! Sadly it doesn't seem to make the fleece very cheap - £50 for a fleece isn't unusual in the uk, don't know about where you are. Mind you, you do get an awful lot of fleece off an alpaca - I have a whole sack waiting to be processed. I generally find carding with a longer fibre helps me with spinning alpaca, as I'm not that practiced at short fibres, but the slubs can get annoying. I need to practice more. I've never tried carding it with silk, but now I've just got to, it sounds fab!

Sarah L. said...

Good for you on finishing the essay, I'm sure that's a big relief. Looks like quite a bit of spinning you've got done so far!

Robin said...

I've seen that dirty alpaca roving before! You should do a before and after to see how much the colour changes when washed! Your singles are looking lovely...wish I could spin that well. Must practice!