Sunday, October 23, 2011

Preparing Washed (scoured) Alpaca Locks For Spinning

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.

Blessings Friends!


  1. Thank you for this post, I have some fibre that I need to prep, but I prefer to spin from roving so now I might be able to make myself some lovely roving sausages

  2. Thank you! I might blend in a little wool, as you suggested. The alpaca is gorgeous, but so hard to handle! Thanks for all the pictures, and the step-by-step. It answered a lot of questions.

  3. Great job Melissa. Very good instructions all the way through.
    I myself prefer to spin Alpaca in the raw and find it makes a fluffier softer yarn.
    I also like your letting it rest on the carder as we do on the bobbins. Makes complete sense.
    Thanks for sharing your talents.


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I'm a crafter, knitter, tinkerer, who always seems to have a project or two on the launch pad. I love to share what I'm working on and I love to see what other folks are working on too, so please comment and let me know where I can see your latest creation!