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.

Digital Camera

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.

 

Alpacas Shorn


I was starting to panic – Grumpy was carrying two bags of fleece on his little body. I knew he was suffering.

But I found a woman who would shear them for us. I helped, and the guys seemed to appreciate that it was me who held them and talked to them. They came back to the barn for food afterwards, which is always a good sign.

We have 4 bags of fleece from three alpacas. Grumpy’s is longer and bulkier than the others.

I’m going to start working on the fleeces tonight. Going to build a skirting table for the fleece and pick the second cuts and fiber out of it. The dirt will need to be washed out. Over and over again.

Cottage Industry – Fiber Anyone?


Digital Camera

I’ve been browsing Etsy.com and ebay.com, looking at fiber offerings.

This is quite a cottage industry – isn’t it? I’ve seen hundreds of offers from dozens of vendors. That’s a whole lot more than I thought I’d find.

The prices are pretty high, which is good for the vendors. I don’t know all the places to look for fiber/fleece/wool, but I’m learning a lot from just bouncing around the interwebz. I’m very, very glad that I was able to get Tonka and Sabre – because I’m really into alpaca fiber.

I bought a Kitten carding machine from Fancy Kitty of Missouri. They have a terrific sale going on, 5% off orders that ship in the next few days. Mine shipped today, I should see it next week. Not in time to get all the Christmas gifts out, but I’ll have it for the other bags of fiber.

I’m going to NEED it for all that fiber. There are still 5 bags I haven’t touched, and half a crate each of black, appalousa and chocolate, plus a bag of washed Jacob. That’s a heck of a lot of fiber to card by hand.

The appalousa, even after a good washing, is still dirty. I’m puzzled, because I’m not sure how much this affects my ability to spin it. If I don’t put a LOT of twist in this fiber, it falls apart.

The black needs even more twist!

It’s a challenge, a challenge to my short spinning experience.

First Projects


Digital Camera

Of course the first thing is to process the fiber. Washed and dried, it dares me to pick up the cards and get to it.

Today, since it was sunny and warm on the back porch, I carded for awhile. I think it was a couple of hours before I had a basket full of rolags. I weighed the rolags, only to find it was under 2 ounces.

DRAT!

I like to divide the fiber into 1 ounce bags for spinning. The last few skeins have been nearly 100 yards to the ounce. I thought that was pretty good but I wasn’t happy with the ‘fine as froghair’ singles.

Another thing that’s been bugging me is the sheer scale of this project.

Yesterday, as I scrolled through the blogs, I discovered a post that mentioned production spinning. I’m so sorry I didn’t get the name of the blog, or I’d plug it. The writer mentioned that production spinning was very fast. A spinner couldn’t get caught up in perfecting every inch, she has to let it all fly.

I mulled over that all day. It really struck a cord with me. I DO check each inch – which is why my yarn is so fine.

So I asked myself – what if I went faster? I’d have to tinker with the wheel settings, but that’s what they are for, after all. It might just put more twist in the fiber, and I might get something a bit thicker. Tonight when I sat down at the wheel, I set everything a little faster.

BINGO!

I got more twist in the single, and it was consistantly thicker! Not only that, but I spun the whole ounce in a couple of hours with only a short break.

The difference in the two singles really showed up when I plied them. The second single was conciderably shorter and thicker, exactly what I’d hoped. Also the yarn had a really nice drape to it. It felt very balanced, not over twisted or under twisted. I got 90 yards by plying the end of the first skein with the end of the second.

I didn’t take a picture. I washed that skein right away.

Also I wanted to note that llama dries very quickly. A good breeze will dry out a skein in a couple of hours.

That mountain of fiber is starting to look more managable. LOL Looks like there are a dozen infinity scarves in my future.

Ho Ho Ho – Merry Christmas!

Confession of a New Obsession – Spinning


Foot kick spindle

I’ve always been a spinner of tales. Sometimes, I need something to do with my hands and my mind while I’m working on a story.

The usually thing is to play Spider or other game of solitare. However, after 4 novels, I’m utterly bored with card games. So I started crocheting about the same time I started working on ‘The Emissary.’

The trouble is that there really isn’t a lot of choice in yarn out there.

I wanted a red, white and blue yarn or a green and white yarn. Niether of which I was able to find.

And the selection of dark natural colors was also limited. I couldn’t find what I wanted at a price I could afford.

I started with a drop spindle kit from Amazon. Which got me looking for a local teacher. When I found one, I started looking for some local with wool.

I found that, too.

Then I found a Llama rescue organization.

It’s only taken a couple of weeks to get in this deep. Luckily I had sense enough to say no to the lovely person who offered me 2 fiber llamas.

It doesn’t take very long to get in over your head these days. Just type in a question on Google.

The llamas arrive in May.

LOL