Sunday, 21 September 2014

Washed alpaca fibre and fleece

It took me a while to wash all that I'd spun, partly because the weather has been so lovely that I've been outside doing gardening and more spinning, and partly because it was a challenge to find washing liquid gentle enough to do the job. The brands I remember my mum using for washing fleece when I was a child don't seem to be available these days - mind you, that was a good few years ago...! So I used some liquid that was for hand washing woollens and silk. I soaked it for several hours, changing the water a few times. The amount of dirt that came out was significantly more from the alpaca fibre. I took care not to move the hanks of wool around too much as there would have been a risk of felting, but I did move it a bit so enable the dirt to come out into the water. At the end of all that, I've found that there's a great difference in the feel of the two threads; the alpaca fibre, although quite firm when spun, has changed to be incredibly soft in comparison to the fleece. I do like it, but I'll always be a fleece girl at heart. I suppose that's partly to do with the fact that I grew up with sheep, wool and the processes of change that it goes through, partly to do with the fact that I've not worked with alpaca before and partly to do with the fact that I personally just like things to be a little less fluffy! So, what next? I've found a pattern for a knitted collar so I'm going to try that and see how the two different fibres knit up into an item. I'm also hoping to have some of the fibre available to purchase at the craft fairs I'm doing in the autumn.
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Sunday, 7 September 2014

Spinning fleece and alpaca fibre on my Ashford wheel.



I've been doing lots of hand spinning lately which has been just lovely - especially sitting outside in the sunshine. A friend kindly gave me some alpaca fibre so I've been having a go at spinning that for the first time. I was also lucky in sourcing some washed and machine carded fleece this weekend and so it was great to compare three things - alpaca fibre, washed and machine carded fleece, and my usual unwashed and hastily carded fleece (because I can't wait to get spinning!). It was also great to really get stuck in with my new wheel - a birthday present this summer. It's an Ashford Kiwi and I'm loving it! I find it easier because the flyer and bobbin are directly in front of me on this wheel rather than over to the left - not as much strain on my back. There are also two treadles so both feet can be used - lovely. My verdict so far is that the washed and machine carded fleece is from spinning heaven! It's been a real revelation and makes life so very easy - there's also no waste. I struggled with the alpaca fibre - it feels dry and hasn't got as much'give' as fleece. It feels a strong fibre and softer when spun but it takes much more concentration and effort. My next trial will be washing the spun threads and seeing how differently they behave during that process. I've found 'The Ashford Book Of Spinning' by Anne Field a great help - first published in 1986 but still relevant and helpful. 
The pocket memory book kits are ready to go and I'm really pleased with how they've developed.
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