Posted by: Moggle | July 13, 2008

From the alpaca’s back to mine – part one

Turning raw fleece in to yarn is a time consuming process. I think it’s rewarding though.

I’ve slowly been washing, carding spinning and plying the alpaca fleece I bought from the guild fleece sale.

First washing. Apparently alpacas like to roll around in the dirt, and I’m convinced the alpaca that provided this fleece liked it even more than most. I’ve been placing small batches in a lingerie bag and then washing them. First a wash with ecover washing up liquid, then with ecover clothes washing liquid. Then a rinse, gentle squeeze and then wrapping in a towel and standing on it. Then I hang the bag to dry. I end up with lots of washed locks like this one:

Then carding with my cheapskate dog combs. I’m sure these don’t do as good a job as proper hand carders, but they do ok. I’ve got the hang of carding with these and am getting quite fast at it. I still wish I had a drum carder or had acces to one! More dust and some VM comes out at this stage.

Once carded I attempt to stretch the fibres out in to roving rather than a rolag. I’m getting a few neps, but mostly it’s good stuff.

Then the spinning. I saw a great idea in Maggie Casey’s ‘start spinning’ book for making sample cards. I keep this little sample card standing on the wheel to check what I’m spinning against what I’m trying to achieve. I also 3-plied a little sample of the singles on the spindle to show a sample of the finished yarn.

Then plying. This was my first 3-ply and I’m really happy with it. I washed it (more dirty water!), let it dry and then I skeined it up on my knitty noddy that I made from plumbing bits I got from Focus DIY. It works pretty well and because it’s plastic I’ll be able to steam yarn if I want without damaging the knitty noddy.

The colour doesn’t want to photograph well, but this picture gets close, a black-brown

I have a rough outline for a design for a cardigan to make with this. I’m going to wait and see how many metres I get. This skein is 140 grams and 180 metres, and approx 13 wpi.



  1. Very nice! I’m quite impressed. I was at an alpaca farm 2 weeks ago in the US, and they were selling raw fleece pretty reasonably. I was very tempted, but wasn’t sure what to do with it (I have never carded fleece, or seen it done, or anything!). Plus I was worried that transporting that back through customs would cause trouble! I did buy some alpaca roving….but wish I had had the courage to buy the raw fleece! You’ve inspired me to think of giving it a go next time….

  2. It looks great. I have the exact same pair of “cards” and they seem to work OK for me too – they look pretty much identical (in essentials) to the actual cards I’ve seen in Handweavers’ Studio.

  3. It’s amazing to see all the stages like this and to hear about what you do at each stage.

    Love the FOCUS DIY niddy noddy!

  4. gosh. I love looking at all the stages . its so time consuming. your finishe dyarn looks fantastic. I love your Niddy Noddy, how inventive

  5. I spin alot of alpaca fleece and I use combs. it works wonderfully for longer staples. I rarely card my fibre anymore.

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