So step 1 is to think about what you are going to do with your fleece, there are people out there smarter than me that can give you more details around this. But for us it meant separating the fleece by animal into 2 bags – one with the main blanket, the other with the neck and belly.
Step 2 take your blanket and “skirt” it. Remove any second cuts, guard hairs and large bits of vegetation. We then pick through it to try and get out as much dirt as possible.
Step 3 and you will find lots of different opinions on this, but for us as we have white alpacas and good old Georgia clay, so we stuff as much fleece as we can into a lingerie washing bag and put it in the washing machine on woolen cycle twice – we were advised to use Eco liquid detergent from Sams club and have to say, we get great results with it.
as you can see that gives us nice white fiber — but it actually does not come out as fluffy as this.
so Step 4 is to pre fluff the fiber. Our method depends on how clumpy it is, and varies between pulling apart by hand, using hand cards or using our Picker.
Step 5 — We have a Strauch manual drum carder and we like to use that for the first pass. this gives us a batt with all the fibers pretty much laying in the same direction.
Lately I have been then weighing my Alpaca in a 70/30 ratio with some Tussah silk before moving to step 6.
Putting it through my very lovely Pat Green Super drum carder. If I am blending in the silk I will put it through the carder twice to make sure it is really well distributed. The result is this lovely Batt or sometimes I take it off the carder as roving.
You can either dye it now or dye it after spinning. I have been spinning on my new mini electric Hansen mini spinner with lace flyer. Here it is as a work in progress and below that some of the fiber I have already spun.
First some nice natrual grey alpaca with silk – 2 ply
Followed by black alpaca, un dyed, no silk and single ply