In response to the big pile of alpaca from last weeks Fiber Arts Friday post, I had this request from Beth;
Spinster Beth said..."Would you mind sharing a brief description of how you prep and spin alpaca? I have three big zip bags full of alpaca, and I know how to wash it ... but it is giving me the dickens carding and spinning. Is there a secret to it?"
Well, I don't know that there is a secret, but this is how I prepare my alpaca for spinning, I hope you find it helpful!
(I've also been known to use a fine comb.)
Often times alpaca has guard hair, depending on how coarse or fine it is, you'll probably want to remove it if you can see/feel it.
At this point, I quite often just spin right from the lock, my preference is drafting from the tip end. Or I can take the locks from this stage and blend them with other fiber (more alpaca, or wool, silk, angora...) on my drum carder or hand carders. Alpaca can get a little bit fly away, so I keep an atomizer with water handy and all it takes is a fine mist to settle things back down. I have also discovered that if I let it rest on my drum carder for a couple of hours it gives the fibers time to settle into a nice cohesive batt. I also let it rest like this if if I am going to pull a roving off my drum carder, it makes a world of difference. If you don't mind mixing your fibers, just adding the smallest amount wool makes the alpaca behave so much better, it's amazing! I like to lay out a layer of alpaca, with a little "dusting" of wool and feed it onto the drum carder. Not only does it help with controlling the alpaca, it's also a very complementary spinning/knitting blend.
The following describes blending fiber using a homemade hackle. Before I decided on the Pat Green Big Bat Carder, when I was doing research on drum carders, I stumbled on a tutorial for making and using a homemade hackle. It's a great, easy to make and use, tool for fiber blending. If you are interest in more information on this tool, a search on youtube will provide you with lots of information.
Goodness, I've used more than my fair share of pictures in this post! I hope you have found something useful to take away and apply to your fiber prep techniques.
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