Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Stalking the wild asparagus - plus processing my alpaca fleece

Many years ago a friend recommended I read Stalking the Wild Asparagus, by Euell Gibbons. I actually never got around to it, but ever since, I've somehow been enthralled by the idea of finding wild asparagus.

Decades later, I've done it. By accident. While 'stalking' another wild plant, I came across a patch of wild asparagus! Wow. I feel as though I have accomplished one of my life's secret goals (another of which is to climb Mt. Everest - but that, I'm sure, will never come to fruition, so a thing like this is made all the more meaningful :-)

Here is the wild asparagus:

I can't tell you what a thrill came over me when I practically ran into it. I'll wait with great anticipation until next spring when I'll return to this remote spot and gather a few of the early shoots for a yummy treat. It will tide me over unil my own asparagus, planted this past spring, begins to produce.

And now for the alpaca. I got my hands on a raw alpaca fleece:

Here it is after two or three days of sorting:

And here are some of the bags of sorted fiber:

I've been washing it a few ounces at a time in some salad spinners. I let it soak a couple of times in hot, soapy water. Let it sit through a couple of rinse baths, and then spin the excess water out of it:

I let it dry on a screen in my garage. Here is some scoured fleece:

And here it is in the 'planking' stage of the combing process with my four-pitch wool combs:

Here it is after it's been pulled off of the combs through a diz. This is combed top, ready to spin:

The stuff that's left on the combs after I pull off the sliver is put away to be carded later. Why is it in baggies? I don't know. Just thought it was neater that way:

I've spun about 150 yards of double-ply yarn already. I'm anxious to see how much yarn I'll get out of one fleece, and how much out of each quality of sorted fiber.

It's a long process, but I don't mind it.


abby jenkins said...

that alpaca fleece looks delicious!!! I just purchased an alpaca collar in Charleston, SC last weekend from an adorable Peruvian woman at the Market. I have not taken it off since.

ICQB said...

Hi abby!

I've been to Charleston several times - what a great city! I'm planning on making a sweater for my son with my alpaca. Here's hoping he feels the same way about it as you do your collar!

Cindy's Garden Thoughts said...

Whew! What a lot of work. We really dont appreciate how easy we have it these days. I wonder sometimes how they did things in the "olden days".
All your hard work will pay off in an exceptional piece I'm sure. I really cant imagine the time involved.

ICQB said...

Hi Cindy!

It is a lot of work, to be sure. But then, I popped over to your blog and noticed that you put in a lot of work with your landscaping and gardening. I guess when you love doing something, it doesn't matter what work is involved.