I read something about alpaca here the other day, and even posted a reply about it but can't find it now. Anyway, I have a question about this fiber. I broke down and acquired some this week after sampling a bit of it. I have about 6 ounces spun fairly fine on one bobbin, and am now wondering if I should ply it or not. I think this would make a nice lace scarf or shawl, maybe a moebius ring.
Does anyone have experience with alpaca? I am wondering if it will work to leave it as singles and knit it up in a lace pattern with fairly loose gauge, or should I ply it?
I have already steamed this bobbin, I put it in a steamer for 20 minutes and it is now drying. I did learn something - the next time I steam alpaca, even nicely washed alpaca, it will be in the late spring with all the windows open! Even with the exhaust fan, on my kitchen smelled like a hot wet animal of some kind. It wasn't a good smell....... but what a lovely yarn I have, this fiber is like butter to spin.
Update on my alpaca story - I tried knitting with this stuff as a single and it was a disaster. I think it's got something to do with the lace pattern and the yarn being fine and my eyes not being the same ones I had at age 30. Anyway, I ripped it out after 3 tries, put it back in a double ended ball arrangement and made it into 2 ply yarn. It's not the best skein of yarn I've ever produced, with all the skeining, washing and abuse it's had, so not really a fair trial of alpaca. I am working on a new lace pattern for a scarf with it as a 2 ply and so far am not impressed with anything about this item. I'm thinking that since I'm not having fun I should just frog it and use the yarn in something else like an EZ surprise sweater.
Meanwhile I'd like to try again with more alpaca because I think I messed this stuff up pretty badly and it was lovely fiber to begin with.
I'm starting to realize that I might want to consider a new drum carder. I found out alpaca is too fine for my Clemes and Clemes. This is sad because I would have to sell the C&C to help finance the new carder. )c8
Having to sell the old Clemes and Clemes may not be as bad as you think. They are no longer made, which makes them a collector's item. (They truly were the 'work horses' of their day, very good machines for everything short of the ultra fine wools and fibers.) I sold mine a couple of years ago for over TWICE what I originally paid for it. Wow! But unless you plan on doing a lot of fine fibers, you may want to keep the old Clemes and Clemes and send your fine fibers off to be processed.
Mine was the post you probably responded to -- about too much twist?
Just as a matter of curiosity, were you using suri or huacaya alpaca? I've only been playing with huacaya because I have so much more of it (and since the suri is more valuable, I didn't want to waste any of it!), but for things like lacy shawls, many people prefer suri. It is a bit slipperier, I'm told, but it should give a nice shine to the finished product and has lots more "drape" than huacaya, which is loftier and gives more halo than suri.
Pegg - thanks for your reply. Wow, that's a good deal on the Clemes. That would just about cover the price of a Fricke?? I will think about it. For the amount of carding I've done in the past couple of years I would be better off sending out the fine fibers and doing the coarser stuff myself, I guess. I plan on getting more done now that I have the time. I'll wait and see!
Judith - I have a lot to learn about alpaca! I didn't know there were different types. What I had was pure huacaya, and the next stuff I'm going to try is a butter soft blend 10:1 of huacaya/merino. The scarf turned out very nice, the problem seemed to be a combination of my ultra fine singles breaking and my No Longer 25 Year Old Eyes.... but I finally got my lace skill back and this pattern is a lovely old one. It's called porcupine lace from the 2nd Treasury of Lace by B. Walker. I am definitely making more of these! It got good reviews at my local get-together this past week.
I spin a lot of Huacaya and i find it needs slightly more twist not to much tension and a reasonably tight ply.I haven't had any complaints. I wash in hot water and shampoo and rinse with some hair conditioner.I have never needed to steam it I hang on the clothes line in skeins and if needed i will put a small amount of weight on the skein.
I haven't spun huacaya alpaca personally, but have played with some of the suri that I have. It is a great deal different from wool, in some respects, but after having read these posts and done some looking, and playing with my own, I guess I'd have to say that it does work better with plying. I do a similar process to Jacquiw and it seems to work well.
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