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Alpaca - to ply or not to ply

Posted By: mrsdoodlepunk

Alpaca - to ply or not to ply - 03/16/06 12:19 PM

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.
Posted By: Pegg

Re: Alpaca - to ply or not to ply - 03/19/06 11:06 PM

Alpaca doesn't have much elasticity and less crimp that wool. My only reservation about using it as a single would be that it would continue to stretch out and "grow". Plying would stabilize it more.
Posted By: mrsdoodlepunk

Re: Alpaca - to ply or not to ply - 03/23/06 02:58 PM

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
Posted By: Pegg

Re: Alpaca - to ply or not to ply - 03/24/06 01:30 AM

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.
Posted By: JudithKorff

Re: Alpaca - to ply or not to ply - 03/24/06 03:48 PM

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.
Posted By: mrsdoodlepunk

Re: Alpaca - to ply or not to ply - 03/31/06 12:12 PM

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.
Posted By: jacquiw

Re: Alpaca - to ply or not to ply - 12/10/06 12:29 PM

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.
Posted By: spin2knitweave

Re: Alpaca - to ply or not to ply - 01/03/07 09:44 PM

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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