How to Hand Spin Alpaca Wool
From fleece ......... to fabric
Hand spinning Alpaca wool differs from sheep's wool in that there is no need to wash the fleece before commencing processing. The importance of not washing Alpaca fleece is it is very easy to felt the fleece in the washing process.
To start the process, first catch your Alpaca to shear it!
This is Darth Vadar, a black Alpaca stud animal ready for shearing.
This is Darth Vader being shorn
This shearer uses a table. The animal is walked to the table which is perpendicular to the ground; a harness is lowered over his body and secured, then the table top is swiveled to form the table. His front and back legs are secured, then shearing can commence. Whilst he is secured, his is given a pedicure, annual injection to prevent disease, and his top teeth are ground to ensure he can feed properly. Once all the fleece is removed, the harness is lowered over his body again, his legs released and the table top swiveled so he can stand. Then he is released.
Once the fleeces is shorn, it is thrown onto a table and "skirted" to remove any coarse hair and any vegetation
Step 2 - Carding the fleece (preparing the fleece for spinning)
Start the process by laying out the fleece
on a work surface, with the cut ends down
Separate two or three staples (depending on the density of the fleece). I use a flick carder to lightly brush the tips. This dislodges any vegetation and helps align the fibres.
Load the fleece onto the infeed tray of the drum carder, then slowly and steadily turn the handle to feed the fleece onto the drum.
With the doffing strip of the drum at the top, use the awl to lift the fibre.
Peel the batt off the drum.
Roll the batt into a sliver. This is now ready for spinning. Prepare as many slivers as you need for the project to be undertaken.
Step 3 - Spinning the Fleece
Take the first sliver and draw out a few fibres. Thread them through the loop on the leader, fold back and pinch. Hold the fibre loosely with the back hand then start spinning. Spin equal quantities of sliver onto two bobbins.
Plying the yarn into a two-ply yarn: place the two bobbins on the Lazy Kate. Feed both threads onto the leader, then use one finger to separate the threads, start spinning in the opposite direction to that in which the fibres on the Lazy Kate were spun.
Step 4 - Skeining
When the bobbin is full, wind the yarn into a hank, using a Niddy Noddy. Tie the yarn off in four places to hold it in place when it is removed from the Niddy Noddy.
Step 5 - Washing the yarn
The yarn is now ready to be washed. Use warm water and wool wash, the rinse in the same temperature water. Wrap in a towel to remove excess moisture, then hand the hank up to dry.
Step 6 - Wind the yarn
Use a wool winder to wind the hank into a ball. I place the hank on the back of a chair to avoid tangles.
The yarn is now ready to use!