So Soft – Just Don’t Pet Him!


Grumpy closer

 

Look at that face! Isn’t he the cutest darn thing?

He hates being petted, which is just TOO bad because he’s SO SOFT! Last winter I’d corner him in the stall and pet his neck and he’d scream “Ewwww!” and stamp his little bitty feet. I’d laugh at him. “Too bad, Grumpy. Get over it! You’re just SO soft!”

I’ve spent most of the afternoon on the back porch, playing with Grumpy’s fleece. I’ve picked it. Carded it. Spun it and plied it.

It’s just so soft!

I don’t know what I’m going to make with it. It’s very fine and a soft creamy white.

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Look, you can just grab a handful and spin it just as fine as froghair, with a drop spindle. My wheel makes it into yarn so fast, the stuff just flies onto the bobbins. The yarn I plied an hour ago needs to be measured and weighed so I know about where I’m at with it.

I’ve discovered how to wash it – just soak it in water for a week. Change the water every day. Use soap and hot water the first day, leave it in the sun the rest of the week. This is a very slow process, but the fleece is just as soft and clean as it can be…after a week. If I go any faster, I get FELT. You can’t agitate this stuff. Even spinning it in the washer felts it.

Now the sad part is that Grumpy appears to have the coarsest hair of the three alpacas. But his is the longest, and the cleanest. I bag it up an ounce per bag – soak it and forget it.

I’ve got more fleece from Atlanta, but I haven’t tried to wash it up yet. I’ve washed one ounce of black llama and an ounce of mouse-colored llama.

Last weekend we went to Wampum Stompup farm. I saw the most beatiful alpacas. Fawns, red-browns and blacks that had some really dreamy looking fleece. There was one red-brown that I’d really like to buy. If he were fixed, which he isn’t.

She breeds her males. I just want geldings. No females, no babies – though her babies are adorable. They are just so hard to keep up. She’s got to deworm hers every 10 days because of some weird worm that comes from the deer.

I deworm mine twice a year. The chickens have developed a taste for Alpaca Poop that defies logic. They like it more than they like horse manure.

Well, the tractor repairman is here, gotta go!

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Had to make the picture bigger so you can get the full squee from that cute little face.

Grumpy’s Fleece II


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This matted mess is what I started with. Very discouraging to have the fleece turn into these nast matts. However, all is not lost.

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This is a fleece picking machine. A small one that is very powerful. See those razor sharp nails? They pick apart the fleece. What you get is in the next photo.

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Soft and fluffy again. The fleece just needs carded and spun. Or dyed, carded and spun.

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Pictures are worth a thousand words, right? In this case the word is “HOT” a thousand times. LOL

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Even the flowers are wilted in the heat, drip irrigation can’t keep up with the heat. Might have to turn it to the highest setting.

Grumpy’s Fleece


Shearing photos

So I made the skirting table out of bird netting and PVC pipe. It’s a nice, large surface, and half the fleece fit on it. I shook a lot of dirt out of the fleece before I washed a small part of it.

Three changes of water with soap, two rinses and a stint in the spin cycle later. Well, it was okay, fairly clean, and of course, matted.

I ran it through the picker and got a soft cloud of lovely fluff. I carded some of it.

Tomorrow I start spinning this fluff into yarn.

There will be pictures, I promise.

Got Fleece? Oh Yes!


Shearing photos

Half of Grumpy’s fleece.

The deed is done for the year. I have 4 bags of fleece, my back is completely trashed, but I couldn’t be happier with the yield.

I was really worried about Grumpy. I knew the weather was going to get hot and I knew he was carrying 3 inches of fleece all over his body. I also knew he wasn’t going to go down quietly. Poor little guy had been handled very little until he came here. So he’s little more than a wild animal.

The photo above is half of Grumpy’s fleece.

I had to make up a skirting table in a hurry. I had originally thought to use something else, something removable, but it was too much work. This way we used plastic pipe and bird netting I already had. It’s worked perfectly, so far. The fleece is a bit damp, so it’s going to sit outside for the night. By afternoon it should be ready to re-bag or wash.

Likely I’ll wash a big batch of it. I’ve got a serious itch to get my hands on this stuff. I want to dye it in deep moody blues and mix in lots of pretty sparkle. I’m thinking sweater, or large shawl.

 

Shearing Time

A lock of hair, staple length appears to be at least 3 inches. Yowza!

I don’t know micron counts. But I know soft – this is really soft. Filthy dusty, but really soft. I left it outside to air, and the gentle breeze and a bit of shaking has taken the second cuts and a bunch of dust out.

After I dye half of it in blues, I’ll dye a bunch of greens, mix the green with some chestnut for a woodsy color of yarn. Then, I don’t know. Maybe card up a bunch to spin…into art yarn?

I’ve seen Sheri’s photos of her goats, so I’m leaning towards getting some mohair locks. I think alpaca and mohair is going to make a crazy soft yarn. Something a knitter would flip over.

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PigPen and Grumpy

 

The guys aren’t happy. There’s been a lot of fighting, with PigPen instigating it. That dark patch on Grumpy is a long scratch with a nasty looking bruise under it.

 

The Next Step – A Picker


Lil Dynamo - lives up to it's name.

Lil Dynamo – lives up to it’s name.

I’ve got several llama fleeces, and the problem with llamas are they are dirt bathers.

After a few hours with an unwashed llama fleece, I wake up that night with my sinuses completely closed up.

That’s a LOT of dirt.

So washing a llama fleece takes many, many washings. Each one has the potential to matt the fleece a little bit more.

So the other day, I really blew it and matted a white llama fleece. It was just a mess. Not felted, because I could pull it apart, but the fiber was in knots. I went to Etsy to price pickers and found this little oak picker that is small enough to fit under the bed.

I put a fist full of matted llama in. It took a couple of passes to get the mats out, and with it came handfuls of dirt. But the fiber is a lovely fluffy mass now. Not a matted mess. (Big sigh of relief!)

I think carding is now possible.

The New Guys – Photos


Tribute and Armand

I’ve been busy, and haven’t posted pictures of the new Alpacas.

As you can see, they were sheared in late summer or fall. There’s not so much fleece on them. There are a lot of burrs, too. As usual, they aren’t the kind of guys to stand still to be groomed.

But I WILL work on that. I prefer my ‘llamas’ as well mannered as my horses. This is going to take a LOT of treats.

Also, I’ve got to get them off the expensive Senior Feed that goes to the old horses.

Got to cut corners where I can.