Sunny Saturday


A few weeks back, we got a package in the mail, filled to bursting with alpaca fleece. Apparently teaching one's self to spin on antique spinning wheels inspires fibery gifts from dear friends. In this case, the fleece came from our friends (and former landlords) Edwin and Virginia, who farm in Harford County Maryland.

Edwin is a photographer, in case you couldn't guess. He's got a keen interest in traditional culture, and you should click here to see one of his books.

My first thought upon opening a boxful of unprocessed alpaca fleece was something along the lines of "Hot Damn!" My second thought was "Oh crikey, what am I supposed to do with all this?"

Look at that glorious alpaca fiber!

Alpacas, unlike sheep, do not produce lanolin. There's no greasiness to their fleece. But that doesn't mean that unprocessed alpaca fleece is ready to spin. Alpacas are said to love a good roll in the dirt, and the Remsberg flock must be holy rollers. These fleeces were dirty. Part of last weekend was spent soaking alpaca fiber. When washed, the fleeces look alarmingly like soggy wet run-over wigs.

Even when they're cleaned, the fibers are full of what's politely referred to as "vegetable matter." This is perfectly normal for unprocessed fibers, and nothing to be squeamish about. Animals get dirty. They lay down on straw. They take dust-baths.

Last night was exceptionally cold (for the Bay Area). I worried about my fruit trees, and Robb gave the feral cats some extra foam to sleep on.

And today was glorious and sunny. We spent the day doing outside chores. Robb built a storage box for scrap lumber. I spent several hours combing out the alpaca fiber with a wire dog brush. I produced a large pile of neatly prepared fiber, and barely made a dent in my alpaca stash.

And the cats?

They soaked up as much sunlight as they possibly could.

This is poor sweet shy Sleeves. He's much less afraid of us than he used to be.


How fun! I knit, albeit never with alpaca, but I've never spun my own fiber. Can't wait to see how it turns out. Do you have a target project for it once it's ready to work? Scarf? Sweater? As for the cats, they're making me sleepy...looks like a perfect way to enjoy a sunny afternoon...I'm jealous!
Unknown said…
A woman from my Knitting/Spinning social is having me process and spin about a pound of her dog's hair that she has been collecting for years.
I'd be so much happier processing you lovely alpaca. I'd like to suggest keeping your eye on Criag'sList or Ravelry pages for a set of hand carders on the cheap. It makes processing fiber go a bit quicker. Or, if you're ever in a pinch, I have a drum carder I'd be happy to bring by for a day some weekend.
1funkyknitwit said…
Oh you are funny :D

I too am in the middle of cleaning alpaca and I do sympathize with all the cleaning, but boy you get a lovely fiber once finished :)

I have to say that black one (gorgeous) is far dirtier than anything I have...ahahaha

Looking forward to seeing how it all spins up :)
Martha said…
Vegetable matter (vm) is nothing compared to tags. Hee hee. That's a nice word for dingleberries. I was just talking with my spinning group about all these euphemisms. There's even one for yellow pus or something along those lines. EEEEUUUWWW.
How about "suint" the name for greasy sheep sweat? I could not get my spinning teacher to tell me what suint was, except to assure me that it wasn't sheep poo.

That's pronounced "swint," in case anyone wondered.
One said…
Hi! I have enjoyed going through your last few posts. Love photos of animals and little critters. You probably can guess. Thanks for popping by.

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