Combs and Alpaca 08/04/03
Two months ago I purchased the Indigo Hound 5 pitch (and burglar threatening) combs. One of the frequent morning rituals is to take my cup of coffee, combs and washed alpaca fiber on my front porch. I have had problems finding any place in the house to attach the comb's base, and have found that the picnic bench is the perfect height. It also needs a certain amount of stability, so I don't move whatever the base is attached to, while pulling the fiber off the combs. After attaching the base, and putting the comb in place, I can sit in my big wooden rocker, and comb without anything starting to ache. So I generally work up 20 combs full of fiber, while drinking my cup of coffee. I suppose I will have to find a different solution this winter, which just possibly will involve bringing my picnic bench inside.
Combed alpaca top, is an absolute luxury fiber. At first, because of the labor involved, I thought I would only comb alpaca for my own use, and it not be a business product. Now I have reversed my thinking, in that the product is so top quality, it is exactly what I want to sell, along with the angora, and dyed silks. It just so fits into my general business idea of lux fibers. So after I had the first washed fiber combed, I had to decide on packaging. I kept my eyes open, while in Dollar General Stores, or Big Lots, and finally found nice white gift boxes at a good price. After determining the amount of alpaca top that would fit, and that storage between fiber weekend booths would not be a problem, I found I had the solution to the 'how do I market this product' question.
Combed alpaca top is also a luxury, because you get a very limited amount for the work. This is a very rough estimate, but it looks like I will get three ounces of top from eight ounces of washed fiber. The waste is being drum carded, so is not really waste. I will spin the drum carded myself, or sell it, if anyone expresses an interest in it.
It doesn't seem like alot, but this top can be spun very fine. In fact that is my next project, after I get my fair entry skeins done. I need to be able to tell spinners just how fine it can be spun.