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 How do I prepare Raw Baby Alpaca Fleece?
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maupston
New Pal

7 Posts

Posted - 06/14/2008 :  9:13:59 PM  Show Profile Send maupston a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Has anyone here spun from a raw baby alpaca fleece? I just got a baby fleece with the yummiest fiber-- dark chocolately brown with caramel highlights, and so soft. The fleece is freshly shorn- and fluffy- not compact at all.

Meanwhile, I'm used to working with already prepared fibers!
I could use a little 101 on fiber prep and/or spinning directly from a raw fleece.
Are there any options that don't take too too long -- I've nearly 3 lbs here.

Here are the issues I encountered on spinning the first skein:

1. As I sorted through my first 2 oz. I found a lot of short cut fibers (second cuts?) and I can only get so much straw out of the fleece with my hands.

2. When I began to spin-- the fiber itself drafts pretty easily, but I lost a lot of fiber taking out the short cuts, and some VM did make its way into the yarn. From my initial 2 oz. I ended up with a 1.2 oz. skein. Is that normal?

3. I have handcarders but that's it. I'm open to buying other equipment-- because I'm planning on more fleeces in the future.

What's the best equipment for this purpose/ fiber?
Can I efficiently remove the short cuts and VM without losing the beautiful variations in color that I get if I spin without carding?

Thanks eveyone! I appreciate anyone's input and advice!

best,
Anna




KathyR
Permanent Resident

New Zealand
2969 Posts

Posted - 06/15/2008 :  4:47:10 PM  Show Profile  Visit KathyR's Homepage Send KathyR a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I'm not sure if this site is exactly what you want but this part is about washing the alpaca fleece and this is about carding it.

Short cuts are a real annoyance, especially if you are wanting smooth yarn, and are usually difficult to get rid of. You could try shaking the fleece to loosen them. Probably combing would be the only mechanical way to eliminate them but this would mean losing a fair bit of your fibre. This waste could be used for carding a novelty-type yarn or maybe for felting.

KathyR

If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got.
My Blog
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eepster
Seriously Hooked

USA
704 Posts

Posted - 06/15/2008 :  5:11:45 PM  Show Profile  Visit eepster's Homepage Send eepster a Private Message  Reply with Quote
It sounds like you need combs for this fleece.


{o,o}
./)_)
.." "
Jen
http://www.buddhabellyart.com/
http://www.cafepress.com/buddhabellyart
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maupston
New Pal

7 Posts

Posted - 06/15/2008 :  8:13:32 PM  Show Profile Send maupston a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Thanks for the links, Kathy. I had not initially planned on washing the fleece ahead-- I had heard you could spin it unwashed and then clean it when washing the finished skeins...this was, perhaps, more fantasy than reality.
Meanwhile, I'm in an apartment with two small kids, so I'm also trying to figure out what I can reasonably accomplish in our space.

What sort of combs do you all recommend, and how long does it usually take to comb through 2-3 oz of fibre?

I really appreciate the input!
Anna
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Kade1301
Permanent Resident

France
1438 Posts

Posted - 06/16/2008 :  04:33:47 AM  Show Profile  Visit Kade1301's Homepage Send Kade1301 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I've just had very good results with combing wool with a dog comb - but I did loose easily half the fibre while doing it. It want faster than I thought, as I didn't have to tease the fleece open beforehand (you want the fibres aligned for combing, preferably still in the original staples) or pick out VM. Now, I did save the combed-out fibre with a view to carding it, but when doing so I realized that now I would have to pick out the VM (and it's concentration is much higher than before combing) so the wool went to the workshop for testing newly-made spindles.... Try dog combs (or even your hair comb) - inexpensive and much less dangerous than minicombs or English combs.

Have fun! Klara

http://www.lahottee.info
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jimbobspins
Gabber Extraordinaire

463 Posts

Posted - 06/16/2008 :  05:30:20 AM  Show Profile Send jimbobspins a Private Message  Reply with Quote
If you are in an apartment with two small kids you may want to rethink spinning raw fleece. Especially alpaca, since there is no grease to hold the dust and dirt in place, it can raise a lot of dust. Also the area around your wheel will not remain clean so you will have to clean it up every time you are done spinning or risk tracking it through the house. Second cuts are a real drag. The fleece was not properly shorn. Remove the second cuts and as much VM as you can before you wash the fleece. Of course others may disagree with me, but I prefer to spin clean fiber.
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knottyknitter
Permanent Resident

USA
3702 Posts

Posted - 06/16/2008 :  05:34:51 AM  Show Profile Send knottyknitter a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I'd also say you should wash it. I believe it was on Ravelry (or it might have been here) where I recently read a post by someone who raises alpacas say that she sure wouldn't spin it unwashed, after seeing what they roll around in!

http://www.virtualknitter.com
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Monkachia
Permanent Resident

USA
1224 Posts

Posted - 06/16/2008 :  10:50:15 AM  Show Profile  Visit Monkachia's Homepage Send Monkachia a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Good question! I was just gifted with some 3lbs or more of Baby Alpaca this weekend and it's quite clean, very dusty and few second cuts. My first time with raw fleece Off to the second hand store for a salad spinner.

Chia

http://munkiknits.blogspot.com/
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maupston
New Pal

7 Posts

Posted - 06/16/2008 :  12:16:19 PM  Show Profile Send maupston a Private Message  Reply with Quote
This is GREAT input. I'm definitely trying the dog combs-- Dutch combs and and babies is a bad combo I think. and I may have to buckle down and wash this fleece-- It's just a matter of figuring out where I'm going to dry it away from curious little fingers.

This fiber is gorgeous but so much more work than I expected!

So everyone here agrees it's "normal" to lose 1/3 to 1/2 the fiber in combing and sorting out 2nd cuts? ugh.

Chia-- let me know how your yarn comes out!
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KathyR
Permanent Resident

New Zealand
2969 Posts

Posted - 06/16/2008 :  6:14:56 PM  Show Profile  Visit KathyR's Homepage Send KathyR a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by maupston

This is GREAT input. I'm definitely trying the dog combs-- Dutch combs and and babies is a bad combo I think. and I may have to buckle down and wash this fleece-- It's just a matter of figuring out where I'm going to dry it away from curious little fingers.

This fiber is gorgeous but so much more work than I expected!

So everyone here agrees it's "normal" to lose 1/3 to 1/2 the fiber in combing and sorting out 2nd cuts? ugh.

Chia-- let me know how your yarn comes out!


If you have a sweater rack (is that what you call it?) you could put the fibre on that and put it on top of the washing machine or a bench to dry. You don't need to wash it all at once so then there would be less space needed for it to dry. If you spin it out in a salad spinner or in the washing machine (in a bag) it won't take long for the fibre to dry.

I read somewhere recently that it is normal to lose between 20-30% of alpaca and occasionally up to 50%. The loss in sheep fleece is greater because of the lanolin/grease content which alpaca doesn't have.

KathyR

If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got.
My Blog
http://www.flickr.com/groups/kr_members/ (Roselea Fibres)
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hotzcatz
New Pal

22 Posts

Posted - 03/19/2012 :  7:57:55 PM  Show Profile  Visit hotzcatz's Homepage Send hotzcatz a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Alpaca is a very dirty fiber, those critters just love to dust bathe is all I can figure. I spin raw alpaca, but it is a dirty process. If you had a vacuum near the spinning wheel and were able to vacuum up all the dust and dirt after each spinning session it might work.
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