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Journey of Alpaca Fiber: Farm to Yarn to Scarf

Alpaca from Sweet Clover AlpacaEarly this spring, I had the amazing opportunity to attend Sweet Clover Alpaca’s shearing day.  I really got to know these adorable animals and their gracious owner.  I’ve fallen in love with the unbeatable softness of the alpaca fiber.  Look at all that cuteness…Aww!Cute AlpacaI came home with bags and bags of alpaca.  (Bags and bags and bags)  Thinking oh yeah, I can spin this up in no time flat.  Ha!  If only all I had to do all day was spin, then maybe. Look at all the colors and did I mention the softness.  Yum!!!Bags of AlpacaThe idea of being able to spin local alpaca was so delicious.  Alpaca raised right here in Conway and then turned into handspun yarn here too. Talk about keeping it local!  There’s no better way then this.Basket of AlpacaPictured above is a basket of the large variety of the colors found naturally in Alpaca.  I took the basket of fluff and blended it together through my drum carder to mix all the colors.Alpaca Fibers Blending on a Drum CarderThe fibers are blended on my drum carder to become a carded batt.  Carded Batts are easier to spin.  The drum carder lines all the fibers up going the same direction which makes spinning on a spinning wheel faster and smoother.  Plus, although alpaca are a whole heck of a lot cleaner than sheep, the drum carder helps remove excess hay and dirt before spinning.Alpaca Fiber Spinnig on WheelThis is the yarn on the spinning wheel being turned into handspun yarn.  First the yarn is spun directly from the carded batt to fill up the bobbin.  The fiber goes through the spinning wheel once, it can then be considered a finished single ply yarn.  I like to ply my yarn either with a strong thread to add texture, or with itself depending on the colors.Handspun Yarn made from Arkansas AlpacaAbove is the finished alpaca yarn.  After this step, the yarn has is rinsed and the twist is then set.  Being this fiber is directly from local fiber, some hay and dirt is completely washed and cleaned from the yarn.  Although a lot of the extra stuff gets pulled out while spinning, the yarn gets a good rinse to remove any excess dirt and barnyard.Alpaca Handspun Yarn turned into a ScarfHere’s a finished scarf made with the above alpaca.  It was hand weaved. Simply divine to touch!  Wrapping up with this on a cold winter’s day would be the best! That’s the entire journey: farm to fluff to carded batt to spinning wheel to yarn then finally into a scarf.Alpaca Weaved Scarf up closePictured below is Caspian, another Sweet Clover Alpaca.  He was a Cria (which is a baby alpaca) and I was fortunate enough to watch his first shearing and buy the coat.  His fiber was so fine and full of fun crimp.Alpaca into YarnThe yarn spun into what looked like a boucle style yarn, with little wispy curls all around. Handspinning AlpacaSince he was such a little guy, there were only two skeins of yarn made from his gorgeous first coat.20131008-071256.jpgHere are a few more skeins of finished alpaca.  The all natural colors are perfect.Four Skeins of Beautiful AlpacaThis last one has a touch of added bling with sequins on the thread.Handspun Alpaca with added blingPlease let me know if you have any questions. I’m working on putting together a few more “This is how it’s done” type of posts.  I tend to ramble on and on about spinning and carding and felting and realize a lot of you do not know the variety of steps or even what the heck I’m talking about.  Here is a earlier post with a video showing how fiber goes from fluff into yarn using all the tools mentioned above.

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Spinzilla Week Continues

 

Wrapped Felted SoapDay Two of Spinzilla week consisted of creating felted soaps for a few of our retail stores, so spinning was a bit slow.  Yesterday, however was a different story. Alpaca Fiber on Drum CarderI worked up a blend of natural alpaca fiber.  The different variations of color reminded me of chocolate chip cookie dough.  Delicious. Seriously, it was making me hungry while spinning. In the end I had 135 yards of fresh spun yarn…guess that’s better for the diet than cookies anyway! 😉135 yards of all natural alpaca spun for SpinzillaNext, on the smaller spinning wheel, a few more yards were being cranked out. Although I adore my Country Spinner for large projects (and even really all spinning), when I really want to spin and not think, I gravitate back to my Joy.Handspun Yarn on Spinning WheelAfter quite a bit of spinning, this one added 140 more yards to my total.140 Yards of Handspun Yarn created for SpinzillaAll this spinning was wearing out Daisy.Tired Daisy DogShe may have been beat, but I was ready to tackle the next skein of yarn.  I had this carded batt made up a few weeks back and it was calling my name.Carded Batt Spinning FiberThis carded batt consisted of merino wool, bamboo, starbright, and some hand painted up-cycled yarn bits.Yarn on BobbinAfter spinning this up as fine weight as possible, I had 159 more yards for Spinzilla.159 Yards of Handspun Yarn for SpinzillaThursday will be yet another Felted Soap day, but I’m doing my best to get in as much spinning as possible in between soap batches.  Next year, I’ll have to be on a team for Spinzilla, instead of going rogue. I’m absolutely loving having the motivation of the competition to kick my spinning into high gear.  With Dazzle Daze just around the corner and The Locals opening soon, high gear is a necessity.

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Spinzilla Day One

Spinzilla is a week long competition to see which spinner can spin the most yardage of yarn. I found out about the event too late to join a team, so I signed up as a Rogue Spinner.

Day one started pretty strong with a bright burst of color.

Bright Rainbow Carded Batt by The Twisted PurlUp and spinning at 5:45 am, nothing was going to slow me down.  Sleep is overrated, spinning….not so much!Rainbow Yarn on BobbinThe first skein was complete and I was feeling pretty accomplished.  102 yards under my belt for Spinzilla before 6:30 am.Rainbow Yarn made by The Twisted PurlWith  a pretty large amount of Alpaca from the local Sweet Clover Alpaca farm in town, I figured my best bet would be to tackle this pile next. Tons of bags of Alpaca FiberI grabbed a luscious bag of baby alpaca and let the fiber turn into the yarn it wanted to become.  This cria had the softest, crimpist coat.  Spun, the yarn almost looks like a boucle yarn.  I’m in love. Baby Alpaca going onto the Spinning WheelAfter this skein, I had another 89 yards finished!  Yay!!!Baby Alpaca handspun yarn by The Twisted PurlKnowing I had to get quite a few soaps felted, I had to make the most out of my last spin of the day.  This one reminded me of a Christmas Peppermint.Christmas Peppermint Carded BattI needed lots and lots of yards, so I focus the Spinzilla Force and spun probably the lightest weight yarn that has come off my wheel in years.Handspun Yarn on the Bobbin Christmas Peppermint Candycane196 yards…folks for me and my normal super bulky yarn was an accomplishment.  I really love the look of this one!  Most likely after Spinzilla Week I’ll go back and thread ply it to make it even more fabulous. 😉Christmas Candycane Peppermint Handspun Yarn by The Twisted PurlLots more spinning is ahead for the week!

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Back to Etsy

After several weeks of no new items, my shop exploded yesterday! Here is a new lace yarn named after my grandmother’s Iris Garden. It was recently pointed out to me, that I must like purple. I guess it is true! To nail me down to one color as to be my favorite though is hard. A true color lover!

This next pic is more handspun. I worked on part of it while I was at the Women’s Convention a few weekends ago. It is Sanjaya 2 BUT and I cringe at what Erin will say about this…it sold already! My cousin lives around the corner from me and her Mom had just started knitting. She was visiting and wanted to see my yarn. I went on over and she bought Sanjaya 2 from me. So, Erin, I promise I will make a Sanjaya 3, or maybe I will just name it Idyllhands and then it is yours for sure!
I came across some roving recently and it is perfect for felting and for new spinners. Since I am only spinning up my own hand painted roving, I felt the need to share this small stash. They are being listed individually on Etsy. Check out this one to see what I mean!

Hopefully, today will be in the dye room. Drew and I went crazy last weekend thinking of ways to naturally dye some roving. I will post some pics of that experiment soon! Have a nice day! ♥