Friday, January 28, 2011

Now for Something Completely Different

I have mentioned I am in interested in fiber arts, well, I decided to share with you something else. A while back I went to the Black Sheep Gathering and bought some raw alpaca from a small farm. The lady gave me an awesome price for two bags of lovely suri alpaca fleece. I suppose I will take a moment I will tell you about the two kinds of aplaca: most common is the Huacaya alpaca with fluffy locks. It has a little bit of crip (or curl), which gives it a tad bit of elasticity. Suri fiber has no crimp and just hangs down, it is very, very fine and likened to silk. Alpaca produce their finest fleece as babies with hair only a few microns across, as they get older the hair gets thicker and, thus, less soft.

Huacaya Alpaca at the Black Sheep Gathering

I think you can see the difference between to two alpaca here, one with a fluffy siffer looking hair, and one with long, draping locks.

Suri alpaca with its long fleece

 Well, it was totally raw which meant before I could spin it, I needed to card it. Luckily during the summer Wynona Studios opened up. It's a lovely little fiber studio in the heart of Oregon City that has looms, carders, wheels and more that the public can use for a small pass. JJ, Linda and Willson Baxter Bell Foster are the family members I've gotten to meet so face. I was able to borrow a drum carder for my fiber, yaay!

To my left is the drum carder, much faster than carding by hand.

To my right is what raw suri fleece looks like raw. See how the hair is literally in long locks? One *can* spin it from its raw form, but it will be more consistant in size and softer if i have all the fiber pointing the right direction.

To begin, I flufff up the fiber, pick out any seeds or grass, then place the fluff at the bottom of the smaller wheel and feed it in. as the small wheel pulls it in the big wheel comes 'round, grabs it and combs it all in the same direction.

Once the wheel is full out can pull it off in one big batt and it is ready to spin!

Ready to spin. All the fiber is pointing the same direction.

"Did somebody say, 'Cookie'?"

Same color: same stuff?

Now I get silly. The color of this stuff is really lovely. One bag is an oak color, the other is burguny. Only problem: the burgundy matches my own hair color. I swear, when it comes out of the carder it looks like the stuff i take out of my own hairbrush! Ew! Gross! Gross! Gross! Gross! Gross!

The nice ladies at the studio tried to assure me  it wasnt a problem. "Well, at least you know it will match your skin tone!" I had almost gotten over the gross factor when a lady came into the studio and and asked, "Is that your own hair you're using there?"

... no. It's not, it only looks like it.

But at least I know it would make a dashing beard!

It really doesn't bother me too much, because when I am done spinning it up it looks beautiful! This is my fingering weight yarn i got with my first batch:
Love it! So soft and silky! I'm planning on making a pair of lace gloves from it and entering them into the state fair.

My Vanity is kicking in, so I'll leave you with a not-so-gruesome picture of the lady behind the blog.
Portrait of an Artist as a Young Lady

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