It has been a wet spring and we have had more than our share of rain. The weather people say we are above avg by 4-6 inches. We had a perfect window to have our alpacas sheared in May. Here a couple of pics of alpacas before and after shearing, along with all of the fiber that we sheared.
Springtime is a time for babies. We have several Muscovy ducklings that hatched.
We have added something new to our farm this year. Two Hereford piglets. Their names are pork chop and bacon.
Of course there is the beauty of wildflowers in our woods. Spring is one of my favorite seasons.
For the past year I have been spinning on both my Echo and Pollywog Spinning wheels. I want to give you a review of them. These wheels are like no other spinning wheels that I have come across. They are built "one at time" here in the USA. I am just smitten with them so of course I am a dealer of their wheels and accessories.
Have you been thinking about buying a new wheel, but you have a limited budget? The Pollywog is an affordable wheel, especially for a first time spinner. My Pollywog is a wonderful travel wheel. It only weighs 8.5 lbs. I use it at shows, my farm store and at home. I spin my alpaca yarns with it. I also use it for teaching spinning lessons on a wheel. It is a joy to spin and the treadling is smooth & silent as you treadle with your toes, so it is ergonomically friendly. I can spin for hours with it and not get tired. As you learn how to spin on the standard 4 oz flyer head, you can add the accelerator to your wheel for multiple faster ratios or upgrade to the 12 oz flyer head which can hold more yardage and chunky, bulky, art yarns. Yes you can spin chunky, bulky and art yarns with this amazing little wheel. The by-passable orifice allows you to spin bulky, ply creative, or add embellishments. You can add a tube orifice accessory to your 4 oz or 12 oz flyer head if you prefer spinning with a closed orifice. You cannot go wrong with this little wheel. Mothers and grandmothers have purchased the Pollywog for their children & grandchildren to spin with. It is that versatile. If any of my local spinning (or non spinning) friends wants to take it for a spin, just give me a shout out. We can arrange a time for you to try it. I also will have it at all of the shows that I will be vending at. Just look at the new event calender for my schedule here on the website. I did a short video of me spinning an alpaca art bat on the Pollywog. You can see my treadling with my toes.
My other wheel that I purchased for myself is the Echo. This wheel is so much fun to spin with. I purchased the Bulky Yarn Pkg. which includes a skein winder and the lazy kate. It weighs 14 lbs, so it's light enough to carry with it's built in handle. I take it with me to all of my shows. This wheel is easy to treadle , as you are using the balls of your feet or you can use your toes. I can spin for hours with this wheel also. I have spun many art batts into art yarns on the Echo. Some of the yarns are listed here in my store. I also did a short video of myself spinning alpaca art batts. You can see my feet and how smooth it is to treadle. My next wheel purchase for myself will be the Firefly. For other reviews of the SpinOlution line of wheels, visit SpinOlution.com If anyone is interested in trying this wheel, I can schedule a time or visit me at one of my shows. Any questions? Just leave them here in the comments.
Hi everyone. I have been busy working on this new website and blog. I plan to be more consistent on posting now that I have converted to this site. I made a video on how I make art batts with my standard baby brother drumcarder. Please watch and let me know what you think in the comments.
I love to spin yarn from my alpaca's fiber. Before spinning I have to prep my fiber. I usually card all of my fiber. I do it different ways depending on what yarn I want to spin. My default spin is usually 2 ply - dk weight.
Before carding is done I pick open the fibers.
Brother now makes this same picker, which I am a dealer of Brother drum carders. If your interested in purchasing it, click this link. Swing Picker Free shipping anywhere in the USA.
Here is a collage of the fiber drying in the trays, then picked open, and finally put through our dye lot carder.
Then I either spin from a cloud or small batts.
After filling two bobbin with singles, I then ply them with my Roberta Espinner.
Then I skein the yarn and wash to set the twist.
I have been hand-processing my Alpaca's fiber since 2006. I thought I would share with you how I do it. Alpaca fiber does not have any lanolin in it, but it does have a lot of dust and dirt from them rolling in their dust bowls as you can see in the picture below.
During the shearing process we collect the fiber in three different bags. The main blanket, is tagged with the alpaca's name and number 1. The neck and some of the other fiber as number 2 in a separate bag. Then the leg fibers go in a bag numbered 3.
I take the number one bags and place on my skirting table. From this I pick out any hay, pickers or whatever might be in the fiber. I also pull out any shorter fibers. As you can see in these pictures my alpacas fiber is very dirty from rolling in their dust bowls.
After skirting we use a homemade "blowout box" and a leaf blower to blow out most of the dirt and dust. This helps with the next step of washing.
I place the fiber into laundry bags that you can close up with a drawstring. Depending on how much fiber I usually have it separated into 3 laundry bags. Now it is ready for a soak. I like to use Orvus Paste. It is a non PH shampoo (typically sold in farm supply stores). Horse owners like to use this to wash their horse with. You may also purchase smaller quantities in quilt shops as it is used by quilters for washing their quilts. It also can be used to wash your delicate clothes. A little Orvus Paste goes a long way. I scoop out a half a ladle for a full wash load for my fiber.
I have an older top loading washing machine that does not agitate (I was given this machine free because it won't agitate). I use this for washing the fiber. I fill the washer with HOT water and my Orvus paste. I then place my laundry bags of fiber into the washer (after filling). I close the lid and let the fiber bags soak from 30 minutes to an hour or more. (It depends how busy I get doing something else). Then I spin out the dirty water. This washing machine does not spray water as it spins (that is important to prevent felting). After spinning out, I fill again with HOT water. I let the fiber soak for 15 minutes or so, then spin the rinse water out. I fill again with HOT water for a second time and soak for another 15 minutes or so, then spin the rinse water out. Usually my fiber's second rinse water is clear.
I then take it out of the bags and place in this herb/seed dryer trays. This is hanging in my basement with my setup for washing and processing the alpaca fiber.
So this is how I do it. I have never felted any of my fiber by washing with hot water. If you were to agitate with the hot water and soap, then yes you could have a felted mess. If you try this, please remember no agitation allowed!