Exploring the world of fiber, one draft at a time

My posting can be as frequent or infrequent as my spinning, so be as patient as that fiber, sitting in my stash.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Spinning alpaca

This is the alpaca that I machine washed and dried.  After picking it open, I drum carded it on my large carder.  The pound of fiber gave me 18 batts.

I decided to spin this on my Aura because of it's large bobbins.  I will spin 9 batts on each bobbin and then ply it to a two ply.  This is the single from one batt.  It spins up quickly and there is no waste.  I didn't even have to fiddle with the spinning wheel, just sat down and spun it up.  It's a good thing the whole process will be quicker than normal, since I have another 3 lbs to wash and spin from the same fleece.

The Suri alpaca on the other hand was difficult.  I talk all about that in a short podcast on www.yarnspinnerstales in episode 102.  After lots of trial and error I finally settled on carding it with my hand cards, which worked well to spin.

I even had trouble with spinning the Suri, I had to change drive bands on my Ashford to keep from getting too much twist in the single.  I finally got things worked out so the wheel was happily spinning the carded Suri.  I love the color, it is a deep brown.  I will ply this too but not sure yet if I will do a two ply or chain ply.

Neither yarn will be lace weight and may even be too thick for socks.  I don't like 100% alpaca for sweaters, they don't hold their shape very well.  So both yarns seem to be destined to shawls or afghans.  I am sure my cat would just love sleeping on my lap with an alpaca afghan under him!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Machine washing alpaca

I talk all about this in my podcast Yarnspinnerstales on Episode 101.  My thought was that since alpaca does not contain the scales that wool has, it will not felt as easily.  Also since it does not contain lanolin, I did not need to use soap, just hot water.

This is a lovely brown suri alpaca: 

This is the suri ready to wash in a small zippered mesh laundry bag:

I put two bags of suri and one large bag of Huacaya alpaca in the washer with a full tub of warm water.  I let it go through the entire wash cycle.  Then I put those bags into the dryer, for a low heat 20 min cycle. The Huacaya alpaca came out wonderful, but the suri ended up looking like this:

My first thought was, well that didn't work and I will toss it.  Instead I started picking at the suri and found it wasn't felted or even really matted.  The length of the alpaca locks had caused it to just wind around itself.  And just like one can pick open a lock of wool, so could these be picked apart.  Once I did the bag full it looked like this:

Beautiful!  and really almost ready to spin.

This shows the Huacaya alpaca which was in very distinct locks with some crimp to them.  The color is tan with a reddish band in the middle of the locks.  Here it is ready in it's large mesh laundry bag.

I opened the dryer to find that all of this alpaca had escaped out of it's bag, not really a problem I just gathered it up.  It was clean, completely dry and not matted.  It's not ready to spin though, it will need either carding or combing.

New year, not so new socks

My knitting friends know just how long these socks took me to knit, at least two years.  They were my portable knitting project, always packed and ready to pick up at a moment's notice.  I guess there weren't enough of those moments though!  I love the color.  The yarn is Online super sock cotton which is 45% cotton 40% wool and 15% nylon.  They called the color beach.  I like that, but it also reminds me of a lovely spring bouquet of flowers.  The sock pattern is by Erica Lueder for Dreams in Fiber  and is Hermione's Everyday Socks.