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.

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.

More Spun Fun


Digital Camera

Digital Camera

This is a photo of the lovely wool I’ve been working on for a couple months.

It’s a three ply yarn. There’s a Charcoal gray, an Antique Red, a Silver and a Dusty Rose. For some reason it reminds me of Good and Plenty candy.

It was not easy to 3-ply, for some reason it kept getting tangled in my fingers. There must have been too much twist. It washed out just fine. Lovely stuff, though.

It’s funny. Once I spin a yarn, I have nothing to say about it. My mind is blank, except for the knowledge that’s it’s done and I really enjoyed spinning 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.

Otter Bee – Crafters’ Get Together


Three of us met for Otter Bee at Shoppes at Otter Creek yesterday.

I got to see my very first battery operated sewing machine in action. It was so tiny and so cute, but it really worked!

And a spinning buddy brought her tiny spinning wheel in. It was also tiny and cute! A direct drive wheel that she used to spin up some really lovely alpaca roving in soft golds and greens.

I took my beloved Kromski and spun up nearly all of my ‘Forest Sky’ alpaca roving. Unfortunately, the 4 oz roving had sat long enough that I couldn’t long-draw it. So I’m still working on it.

We also talked about my problem with staple length – the appalousa llama fleece was cut with less than a 2 inch staple length. I got some fake casmere to blend with it, and some Shetland roving to dye a dark blue and mix with the black llama. The black llama is even softer than the white, and the staple length is even shorter. But it’s so soft and fine that I’m determined to spin every bit of it.

No new photos today. I didn’t take any.

On the downside, I ‘lost’ a finished project for my step-son. I crocheted him a llama hat in chocolate and appalousa that was just dreamy soft and warm. But somehow, it grew legs and vanished from my house. I’ve looked everywhere!

The young man shaves his head, and lives in Upstate New York, where the winters are savagely cold. I’m afraid that I can’t make him a new hat before the holiday.

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.

Quick Note


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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.

 

Whatcha Up To?


Digital Camera

I hope this picture looks better than the flashed out one. I’ve been spinning some Silver Romney – about 6 oz so far. And there is an ounce of accent yarn, silver and rose (Coopworth wool). There are 3 more ounces to spin before I’ll offer it for sale.

The rose and silver was just put on the niddy noddy today. I plied it yesterday. I still have to set the twist. It looks to me like someone could knit a scarf, a hat and a pair of mittens from all this yarn.

The fiber spun like a dream. It isn’t dyed wool, it was carded with some grease left on it to make it spin better. Carding the two fibers together was easy once I got Hubby into the act. We knocked it out in a few minutes.

An aside to anyone who has a carding machine – get a wallpaper brush to press down the batt. I used a card for it and got my fingers nipped. The paint brush works just as well and you don’t have to worry about your fingers.

Since the heat broke we’ve been puttering around in the yard. I still don’t have a goose free yard but the girls are penned up in Chicken World. So there aren’t as many chickens jumping on the porch to steal cat food. (Or leave proof they were there.)

Nothing going on the writing front. I’ve got to go hermit again, I guess. But with the weather cooling down I’m able to sleep better at night because I can be more active during the day.

That’s it for today. I’m going to catch up with all the blogs I follow this evening.

I’m crocheting a hat, a very simple pattern, which is good, because I can’t read patterns very well.

Eventually I’ll buy a set of knitting needles, expensive but a good investment since I’m slowly teaching myself to knit. I got a cheat sheet of stitches yesterday which helped me learn to purl and do a stocking net stitch. I tried ribbing, but it became a mess. I’ll try again later when I’m not frustrated with it.

That’s it for me, no adventures at the moment.