Friday, 4 November 2016


The first time I went to Olds Fibre Week, was just after the devastating floods.   As we flew towards the Calgary airport, you could see the swaths of water, creating ponds and lakes where farmland should have been.  A local spinning guild had a space in the sales room where they were running a fundraiser for one of their members who had been affected by the flood.   They knew someone who had alpaca but they were just pets.  In exchange for shearing the animals, the guild got to keep the fleeces, which they were selling off to help their member replace equipment.   They had a number of different fleeces, all for $20 a piece.   I was happy to help and it was a pretty small fleece, so I could find the space for it in my luggage. 
 It was grey.  It looked grey.  They said it was grey.   I thought it was grey.

I fit it all into several large ziplock bags and yesterday I emptied one of those into a net bag and within 2 minutes of setting it into a laundry tub with hot water and Dawn dish washing liquid, it looked like this.   I figured that maybe it wasn't quite such a grey fleece after all.   The second wash water was fairly clean.  It only took 2 rinses.

Oh my!  It is white, really white.  It's not the finest alpaca.   There is a bit of guard hair that I've been pulling out.  Some of the hair is obviously neck or maybe belly/leg hair.   But that which isn't guard hair or thicker and short, is quite nice.   With a little bit of work, it will be a great bit of fibre for blending with some Merino.   Plus with all that white, it is a great canvas for dyeing.

A good few years ago, a friend of mine from Tenn. was visiting family in N.Y. where she stopped to visit an alpaca breeder who was selling off the previous years fleeces for next to nothing.  She sent me a whole box of fleeces (2 of them) for a Christmas present that year.   I'm still working my way through it.  This is the rest of the first one.  It is prime alpaca, with no guard hair and I'm guessing only the blanket.  It's a lovely light fawn colour and the other one is a bit darker.   This fleece will be so enjoyable to work with, since it will require almost no effort.  It has no vm and required only one washing to get it clean.   It's first wash water was cleaner than the second one from the above!


Bettina said...

haha, I had darker grey suri alpaca as a gift. I contemplated washing it, but spun it without anyway. after washing - it turned out to be real black! I had to wash it quite a few times, but when it was done it was the most lustrous skein in deep black I've ever seen. I don't think there are any sheep breeds that produce fleece in such a true black. the one downside to suri - it's impossible to card on a normal drumcarder or handcards - the fibres are far too long. pity that suri is so hard to find (at least over here), but if you can find good alpaca huacaya is lovely as well. I still have a bag full that I schlepped over from a trip to wales - I went with a rucksack and came back with two additional large bin liners full of fleece:) enjoy the spinning!

Nina said...

Isn't it wonderful when you get a surprise like that. I've only ever spun suri that was fairly short. I've often wondered if it really was suri since it was suspiciously similar to huacaya. I've done exactly as you have on trips away, coming home with bags of fibre. LOL.