an alpaca experiment.

Remember that deep brown alpaca I spun for a trade with a friend? (If you’re reading in real time, or close to it, it’s that luscious stuff in the header photo on my blog.) Well, that was only half the bag of fiber N. gave me to work with! I picked the deep brown alpaca first because it was softer and “felt” like it would be a more familiar spin. The grey stuff felt a bit more like the alpaca I tried to spin right when I got my wheel. Last night, I was feeling likeĀ  I wanted to get something done (and I needed a break from prepping for this week’s sections), so I dug out the grey alpaca. I have four mostly even bumps, almost 2 oz. each, so I decided to put the first quarter on the wheel and just see what it wanted to be. This stuff is pretty compressed, so I spread out the fibers the best I could, and then tried to work with the super long staple length and short guard hairs. I haven’t spun much alpaca, so I’m not sure my take on this particular fiber is accurate, but to me it seems like some of this is “seconds” — not the softest fiber the animal has to offer. Also, this was on the dirtier side of the spectrum of fiber I’ve encountered — veggie matter, burrs, even some dried bug parts, I think.

I settled on a low twist, thick/thin single, and once I pulled it off the bobbin and wound it onto the niddy noddy, I liked it. Because some of this is pretty coarse, I worry that plying it will make it too rope-like. Leaving it as a single seems to encourage the halo, which I think is a good thing. So I put the second 2 oz. chunk on the wheel and did the same thing. These small skeins are hanging to dry right now, and I’m anxious to get a sense for how the feel of this yarn has changed with washing. I think I’m going to spin the other two chunks the same way, as I’m getting into a rhythm, and I love the sheen on these singles. More pictures soon!

And then there’s this guy, patiently waiting for a belly rub. Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

spinning alpaca.

This morning (instead of starting the book I need to finish for a discussion on Thursday) I sat down to play with the alpaca I am spinning for a friend of mine. Boh woke me up, barking to go out, ten minutes before my alarm went off. (I don’t know about you, but I really, really enjoy the sleep I get early in the morning, just before I wake up.) So I was groggy. Hence the decision to make coffee and spin, rather than jump into the day’s work.

This stuff is much softer than what I used for my first (short-lived) attempt at spinning alpaca last summer. I don’t have any information about it, but I’m wondering if it is a blend, or perhaps baby alpaca? My friend gave me two different fibers to spin — this natural brown stuff, and some natural grey alpaca. The grey stuff feels coarser, and more like what I thought alpaca was like.

I’ve got close to 6 oz. of the dark brown alpaca, so I’m aiming for a two-ply in the light-worsted to worsted range. Some sections of the fiber spun smoothly and evenly, while others required a bit more wrestling and wrangling. I’m not sure if that has to do with the fiber being a bit compressed in places, or if it is simply the natural variation in the quality of this animal’s coat. I am quite happy with the way this is turning out — and I’m anxious to spin up the second bobbin and ply so that I can see how the fiber reacts when it is set. (Will it soften further? Plump up?) I’ll keep you posted.

This photo was pretty dark, so I clicked the “enhance” button in iPhoto, and here’s what it gave me. I like it.