August 03, 2010

WIP: The Great Alpaca Experiment

One of the many things on THE LIST this summer was to learn to do everything with fiber from the point where those locks hit the shearing floor to the point where it is a finished, knitted product.  So, I know it's WIP Wednesday and I should be showcasing whatever knew knitting project I have begun, but this is really my big WIP for today.  (I did cast on for another test-knit of Swing--which seems to be making a nice little splash at Ravelry, by the by.)

Exhibit A:  The newly sheared alpaca, weighing in at 2 ounces.
Exhibit B:  The Wash Cycle
(in the kitchen sink using a few drops of lemon dish soap, hot water, and yes, a salad spinner!)
Exhibit C:  The end of the wash cycle (This alpaca is a Georgia alpaca, thus the red-clay water.)
Exhibit D: Rinse Cycles 1 & 2 (also with hot water, no soap, a little vinegar for rinse #2, and a salad spinner)

Exhibit E:  The Spin Cycle (via $2.98 salad spinner from Walmart) You can probably see the crud left in the sink post rinse cycle.  I learned to do 2 wash cycles and 2 rinse cycles after the first batch.
Exhibits F & G:  Drying Time (Alpaca is taken from spinner and spread out on a screened frame--in the bathtub!)

And for the Grand Finale:  Look how pretty it is after it has been carded!

And then I carded it with a little soy silk because alpaca fibers are short and soy silk fibers are long and the combo makes it much easier to make some yarn, and the result is a--so far--single ply strand that feels like I've spun clouds into yarn!  It's so awesomely soft!

Eventually I will dye it--thinking I might try a vegetable dye like beet juice--and it's killing me not to dye the fleece, but this was/is a great end to THE LIST as I head back to teaching the kiddies at the high school.


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