Thursday, January 19, 2012

My white alpaca fleece

Last fall, I purchased  a white, first shearing fleece which came off of a 10-month old alpaca named, "Powdered Sugar." I finally have the time to process it. Two days ago I unrolled the fleece and sorted it. Here it is, shorn side up: 

I have to apologize ahead of time for the quality of the pictures. I took them one-handed with my cell phone, and the flash was off, so they all came out a little blurry.

My cat, Freki, wanted to help:

As soon as I got my hands on the fleece, I knew it was going to be something special. It was really soft and fine. It was so fine, in fact that the unshorn side was full of vegetable matter (hay, feed, bits of weeds from the edges of the pasture). It turns out the Powdered Sugar's fleece is so fine that it's spider web grabby.

But I was able to get most of that off during sorting, and then yesterday I washed a few ounces, and today it was dry and ready for combing. During combing, most of the rest of any vegetable matter tends to fall out, or get left behind in the combs at the end.

Here is some of the washed fleece on one of the wool combs:

There are two wool combs to a set, and here is how the fleece is combed, off of one comb and onto the other:

You do this for a while until everything is all nice and combed and ready to be pulled off (there is one step I haven't shown, called, "planking"). At that point you pull the fiber off of the combs through a small hole in a tool called a diz :

This turns the fiber into a kind of rope of aligned fiber, which is called top, or sliver:

When you roll that up into a nice little ball for storage, a tiny bit of twist goes into it, and then it's called roving. These balls of roving are ready to spin:

There is always a some stuff left behind in the combs:

It's full of things that you don't want in your yarn, like vegetable matter, tangles and lumps:

I said that as soon as I got my hands on this fleece I knew it was going to be something special. It is. It's incredibly fine and soft. I think it may even be as soft as the paco-vicuna I have. I'll compare the two when I've spun this up. I'm so excited to have a whole fleece of this stuff! And from a local farmer!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Silk, Alpaca, Reindeer Tattoos

I recently got some silk to spin. I'm planning on blending some of it with part of my nice, white, first shearing alpaca fleece I purchased last fall. I still need to sort, dehair, wash, and comb/card the fleece, but I will start attacking that project this week - along with various other fiber-related projects.

I still need to spin the fiber up and knit two pairs of texting mittens, one for my husband, and one for me. They'll be made with yak. I want to put a pattern on my pair. I don't know if I can, but I want to try to make a pattern for this design to go on the backs of my mittens:

It's one of the tattoos on the Ice Lady Mummy, found in the Eurasian Steppes. I will attemp to create the pattern with the help of the KnitPro application found here.

The whole reindeer-people culture is very interesting. Frozen mummies often have all sorts of intricate tattoos:

This book is a wonderful way to find out more about The Reindeer People.