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.

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Textiles – An Epiphany


Hand Spun Yarn

I’ve been spinning over a year now.

Today I needed a leader for the bobbins I purchased at the Woolery this week, I used a bit of cotton that was sitting on the table. That cotton was spun by a friend of mine on Thursday. Instant leader, on the plying bobbin. As I wrestled with a 3-ply yarn in red and gray – I realized, once again, just how old this art form really is.

We are surrounded by textiles. Rugs, curtains, upolstery, the clothes we wear, sheets, towels and pillow cases, socks(!) everything is made from textiles. Yet, not even 100 years ago, most of these textiles were made by hand.

Can you imagine how fast these textiles would vanish if the textile industry shut down tomorrow? Today’s fabrics are really flimsy, they don’t last long at all. The simplest things are completely out of our grasp. Very few people know how to sew, knit or crochet, let alone spin or weave. I might have enough clothing to last me a couple of years…until I look at socks.

Everybody knows how uncomfortable is it to wear shoes without socks.

I’ve never worn a pair of knitted socks. I’ve seen sock yarn, needles to make socks and pictures of socks. But I’m completely unable to make a sock without help.

If the Zombie Apocalypse hit tomorrow – how much would a pair of hand knitted socks be worth?

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.

Llama Fiber Mega Stash


Digital Camera

As you can see, I’ve been busy processing the llama fiber I was given. The large brown crate on the floor is full to the brim with washed fiber that needs picked and carded. The white bags are full of unwashed fiber. The tilted crate is half full of Appalousa llama fiber, which appears to be free of guard hair. It’s all pure fluff. There are still two bags of fiber in the car. (gulp)

You can see I’ve got a huge task ahead of me. If I wasn’t itching for something to do, I’d be freaking out. It’s fairly easy to wash the fiber, though it’s full of dirt and bits of vegetation. Once it’s washed and rinsed, it dries into mats. I use conditioner to make it easier to pick, otherwise it developes a wicked case of static cling.

The mats can be broken up by hand, or with a picking machine. A picking machine is an ugly bed of nails that rips the fiber mats open. It will also give an unwary woman a masectomy, so it has to be used with caution. Once the mats are turned into fluff, the fiber can be carded either by hand or with a machine.

This week, I have washed one bag of fiber, the chestnut. The crate contains the bulk of it. I have carded 4 oz. I’ve spun all 4 ounces into 2 skeins. One skein is already half of an infinity scarf. The other skein is drying on the rack. Once it is dry, I’ll crochet the rest of the scarf.

Thus far, the appalousa llama is the most intreging fiber. It’s also very dirty. I thought one wash and rinse was enough, but I was wrong. This guy liked to wallow in clay dust. (shrug) No big deal, really.

I’m toying with the idea of dying some of the white. (BTW – appalousa is white with tan spots.) I’ve got lavender and turquois dyes that should really look good with the mottled fiber. Not sure about that yet, it might be entirely too time consuming for Christmas presents.

I’m also looking into Dragon speach to text software. I suspect I won’t have my hands free until summer. LOL

Quick Note


Digital Camera

I have spun and plied a new skein of Rose and Gray. It is 100 yards AND 2 ounces.

The reason I’m tickled with this?

I’ve never actually tried to spin a measured amount of fiber in to a measured amount of yarn.

Until now, I’ve just spun whatever I could get my hands on, to whatever length I put on the bobbin. Now, I’m measuring out the fiber in ounces, with the goal of getting a uniform length from it. I would like to be able to spin ‘production’ amounts of yarn.

You know, enough for a hat or a scarf as per the directions.