Washing The Alpaca fleece for Spinning

 Front-side of the fleece. This is a piece that I have not prepared yet.
Purchase at the 1st Annual Alpaca Festival – Maryland

Now the boring stuff is out the way. Yesterday was about The Alpaca.


Alpaca – Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival

The cleaning process is similar to that of sheep wool, except there is less involved in cleaning the alpaca fleece. Every one has there way of processing and cleaning the alpaca fleece. This is the way I have been taught I went to The Mannings for a course in Processing and Spinning the Fiber.

With Alpaca fleece, you have a lot of dirt, sand, straw.  Some people say you can spin in the dirt. I’m sorry I invested to much for my spining wheel and drum carder to get it nasty and mess up with dirt.

I wash my fiber first. Even after the fiber has been properly wash there will still be dirt that will come off the fiber during the time you are making batts with the drum carder.

If you are looking to purchase Alpaca fleece it should look like this:

Salt and Pepper 

Color:  Salt and Pepper
Feel:  Soft
Staple length: 5 inches=12.7 centimeters
Condition: Has not been clean

If you see anything that look like this fleece, leave it, become a Colonel Run-Away.


Rich Red

Color:  Dark Brownish Rich Red (gorgeous color)
Feel:  somewhat soft
Staple length: 2 inches=5.08 centimeters
Condition: Extremely dirty 

You will have more of a nightmare then you have hoped for.

Alpaca is lovely soft, and beautiful, even after you have hand spun it, and even after twist is set.


This is the way I process my Alpaca fleece

This will be the only time that I am really serious and extremely careful. This would includ:
  1. Temperature of the water
  2. Timing.
  3. No agitating at all.
These to me are the most critical through out the entire process of cleaning the Alpaca fleece.

Here is a YouTube video that I first found when I was ready to turn my Alpaca fleece into yarn.




This is Instructions is Front Load Washing Machine and done in the sink:
The items you will need to wash the alpaca fleece:
Lingerie Bags

Target’s small mesh and larger – Under $2
Wal-Mart- Larger holes, smaller then Target’s bag. – Under $2
(I’m reside in the Maryland, DC, Northern Virginia area. So location can vary by prices.)

I use both Lingerie Bags, and they work out fine.
Rubber Gloves
Long Wooden Spoon
Sauce Pan

Prepping the water:
  1. Temperature of the Water: 120 Degrees.
    I boil my water and pour it in the sink, and add cold/luke warm water form the faucet to get it to 120 degrees. I check my water temperature in the sink. 

    Pot’s: 1 large pasta pot is used to boil the water, a person on Ravelry recommend the Habor Freight Pasta pots, I use those pots set. When I am preparing the water for the sink.  I also place a stainless steel sauce pan in the water, this will be my anchor to hold down the lingerie bags
  1. 1 tablespoon of Dawn.
  2. 4 bags at the most. (I have a deep kitchen sink.)
  3. Wooden long spoon.

Make sure you have on your gloves your hands will be in the hot water.  You are going to add the bag, and press them down into the water until it stays down. Place the pot that’s inside the water on top of the lingerie bags.

Let this rest without touching this for 30 minutes. Always monitoring your water temperature every 10 minutes.

At the same time if you have a double sink start preparing your second sink right after you have placed your fleece in the 1st sink.

  1. Start boiling your water
  2. Make sure you sink is clean
When you fleece has been in the 1st water 15 minutes. Start preparing your 2nd sink as you have for the 1st sink. Making sure:
  1. Temperature is 120 degrees
  2. You do not use soap in the wash.
  3. Make sure you have another clean sauce pan to place in the water to hold down the lingerie bag.

When you remove the fleece from the  1st wash water, squeeze the lingerie bag over the dirty water sink.  you can squeeze the lingerie bag as hard as you would like, as long as you do not wring the lingerie bag)

Place the bags in the clean sink of water, this will be your 2nd wash

How many time do you need to rinse:
Until your water is clear. It can take from 3-6 rinses before your water is clear. I have prepared fleece that was so nasty that the water still had a hint of dirt in it, including setting the twist after spinning.

At no means should you use a hair conditioner or any kind of fabric softener. This will leave a residue on your alpaca fleece, this will make it feel greasy. The fibers will be very soft.

After everything is over with. I’m a risk taker, and I want my fleece to dry quick. I put the lingerie bags in my front load washing machine and setting will be. Set to: Drain and Spin. Let it run it’s course for 14 minute.

I have a large mesh laundry rack, I order off Amazon. I spread out clean alpaca fleece on the rack and hang it up to dry. There will still some dirt falling from the clean fleece.   How long will it take the fleece to dry: Depending on the time of day, the weather, climate, location, when the moon falls into the 7th house.
I would check after 4 hours if you are in a warmer climate area. I check the fleece the next morning. I’m on the East Coast of the US.

Why Alpaca:

Personally, I wanted to learn how to spin raw fiber, and I came across many YouTube videos of people processing wool. Then finally I came across a YouTube video processing Alpaca fleece.
1. Alpaca is extremely soft.
2. Durable.
3. Warm.
4. Light weight.
5. Hypoallergenic.
6. Easy to clean.


I have provided this video, so you know what to look for when purchasing alpaca fleece. 

Shearing:



Hope This help you.
I am not an expert at all, just helping you to avoid the mistakes I made.

Be good to yourself.
Till next time.

Wythlove



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