Monday, July 01, 2013

Tour de Fleece 2013 - Stage 3

Today's focus was on carding alpaca.  Managed to get a good chunk accomplished today which makes me happy that something is going right.

The fibre from Tyrone is absolutely dreamy.  He's a rescue boy who spent several years living wild.  They don't know where he came from, but I'm glad he could come live with us.   The fibre has a deep rich colour which I have trouble showing in my photographs, with a touch of grey from time to time.

This is the first time he's been shorn in several years so the fibre staple is long and lovely.  However, there is evidence that he went through times of poor nutrition while he was living wild.  Some of the longer fibres have week spots in them that break easily, a sign that the animal was under stress (emotionally or dietary) at some time.

I think that next year's fibre will be even better now that he has a steady diet and a set routine.

We didn't grade the fibre at sheering time, so I'm sorting through it by feel.  I'm making two piles, fine and coarse.

I don't know how well you can see it, but the pile on the left is coarse.  Can you tell that it has more shine?  By coarse, I mean it would make a nice sweater or blanket.  The fine stuff is next-to-the-skin soft.

I'm going to put the coarse stuff to one side for now, I'm undecided about what I want to do with it, perhaps find a wool to blend it with and make socks.

The fine fibre is what I'm working with.  It makes up about 40% of the total fleece.

First I spread apart the fibre with my fingers, gently removing any tangles or vegetable matter that I come across.

The more I can spread apart the fibres before carding it, the easier time my carder will have organizing the fibres.  It puts less strain on the machine and gives a better finished result.  This is how thin I like to have it as it enters the carder.

This fibre is lovely and only needs two passes through the drumcarder.  What I'm aiming for is a consistent yarn, so I put a large amount of fibre through the carder so that I have almost a dozen batts, then I take a thin strip from each bat and put them through the carder again to blend any variation I might have got with the first selection.

I other news, I found my bobbin stash in the basement.  It was with a bunch of other spinning stuff.  Given how hot the days have been this week... I'm wondering how much more alpaca I can tolerate.  Alpaca is one of the warmest fibres to work with, which makes it unpleasant in a heatwave like this.  I'll see how today goes and then reevaluate my goals tomorrow.

No comments: