I ♥ fibre

I was dyeing some alpaca fibre today and thought it would be fun to share a few pics..

I am still a total novice at this fibre preparation business, however am finding after each dyeing session or at the end of each knitted project with homemade yarn, something new is learned.

This day?

I am on the lookout for guard hairs. Nasty guard hairs that didn't even beep on my radar previously but now do since my latest project, a knitted scarf turned out incredibly scratchy due to these pesky little inclusions. They really change the feel of an otherwise soft fibre! Uggh! See what I mean? Something new learned each time..

The softest of the fibre is sorted away from the pesky guard haired clumps and is then soaked in a weak water and vinegar solution for around 20 minutes+. The wise ones inform me that the vinegar helps to open up the fibres in preparation to take the dye (it also seems to help loosen some of the dust that is so commonly associated with alpaca fibre. Those creatures like to ROLL! pfft!). 


In the meantime, a stray skein that was recently plied, is washed and then soaked as well in the anticipation of any 'exhaust' dye. 

The dyes are dissolved in a small amount of hot water and then added to the dye pot. Some take the time to measure. I do not. The thrill of an unexpected result kind of appeals to me.

Enter the wetted fibre into the dye pot..

The dye pot is then heated on an outdoor stove for 1 hour or so, very gently, without boiling until the fibre is the shade I am after. It is removed with a long handled prong and allowed to cool before rinsing. 

Remember, felting takes place in the presence of moisture, heat and agitation! Soap, too!

Yes, I have learned this the hard way. 

To dry the fibre after rinsing, (several times, sheesh, that alpaca fibre is DUSTY!), I have been using a scrounged dog bed frame covered with plant netting and then an old net curtain. This is working well and if the day is windy (or the pooch is present), a second net curtain placed on top contains the fibre (and the temptation for the pooch). 
This fibre dried in the heat of the hot summer sun in just a few hours. I'm finding it helps to fluff it up a little as it dries, but that may just be my thing..

Elsewhere, two batches of (more!) alpaca fibre are slowly being rinsed and dried in the same manner. These were given to me by a well meaning school mum, I'm not sure how suitable the fibre is for what I had in mind though, tests will need to be carried out! I was so excited to get my hands on some black fibre though, I have been on the lookout for some for a little while now..

{*Note: Mischievous pooch attempting to dig up lettuces}

The spinning wheel also was dusted off this week after sitting idle over the holiday period. I have been plodding away on some corriedale wool and decided to ply it with some alpaca that was dyed a week or so ago...
I tried to ply it nice'n'tight in the hope of making myself a  pair of socks, durable socks, warm socks even, for winter!

Lets hope so. :)
{exhaust bath skein, alpaca/finn}

What do you ♥ lately? 

Comments

  1. Wow, your corridale/alpaca yarn looks fabulous! Can't wait to see the socks you have planned for it!

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  2. I love the chocolate orange flavour yarn! Is it just me who associates colours with food (primarily pudding...)? I really must learn to spin, I am itching to give it a try every time I see your spinning wheel on here :)

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    Replies
    1. Nope, you're not alone in your food/craft musings, Claire, I do it constantly, too. Give it a go, you'll love it. ;)

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  3. Oh my word, you are so talented! Very, very inspiring to take fleece and through that miraculous process create beautifully hued skeins. So fascinating :)

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  4. This sounds like a whole lot of fun. I haven't tried dyeing yet.

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  5. I am so impressed by your spinning! AND your fiber processing and dyeing!
    (And that clever dog...waiting til you are well and truly distracted LOL)

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  6. Ok, I now understand why alpaca costs so much when it finally ends up for sale in the wool shop! Great work Chris! Sorting the wool must be an interesting process - darn those guard hairs! :)

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  7. I have just spun and knitted socks for hubby. Used perendale wool and spun three fine strands then plied them. What lovely colours you ended up with. A tip I was given about alpaca and all that dust - put some loosely in a mesh onion bag and hang it on the clothes line on a windy day and a lot of the dust will come out as it flaps in the wind. Hope this helps.

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  8. Your yarn looks amazing - I've just shown my 10 year old grandson your post he was very impressed x

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  9. Now that is some serious skill. I thought when i first opened up the post you were going to talk about your dietary preferences. LOL Pleasantly surprised, im truly in awe.

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  10. The purple yarn is just beautiful...

    Very cute of little poochkins to photo bomb your shot!
    AND to be doing something naughty as well!

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  11. Looks like so much fun! I can't wait until I play with dyeing but it's a while off yet. I don't get much time to even practice spinning atm. Glad you're playing with wool - I've been thinking of you. It must have been a stressful week!

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    1. Thanks, Linda, hopefully just a couple more weeks until the fire season passes. xx

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  12. I remember a tapestry weaver I knew used to dry his dyed fibres in a tube of chicken wire hung off the clothes line. It worked just fine too.

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  13. Not something I do or probably will but it is awesome to get some education on how this is done. It helps when I see something at a market to understand what process has been undertaken. Cheers, Wendy

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  14. What a beautiful post, but one of the pictures begs instruction. In the photo with the black and brown alpaca fiber, it appears that the screen is hand made, woven? Did you make it? If so, would you mind pointing me towards instructions or did you create it from your mind? It's a beautiful and useful piece. Thank you!

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    1. Hi Lily, the screen you are referring to is an old dog bed frame with the hessian removed (scrounged from the tip), and then lined with some plant trellis/mesh. Simple but it works so well. :)

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  15. I learnt to spin about 10 years ago, and was lucky enough to be given a spinning wheel from my grandma about 5 years ago. I haven't spent too much time on it but would love to get back into it. Your fleece is dyed beautifully, and your spinning so fine! Where do you get your fleece from?

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  16. Hi Clare, how lovely to meet another spinner. It seems to be one of those pastimes that requires a strong will to get started and then the rewards for your efforts are so worth it!

    Thankyou for your kind comments. I have been getting the majority of my fleece locally from a couple of school mums who keep alpacas, the wool I buy in it's raw state from sheep farmers at spinning group. :)

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Hi there, so nice of you to stop by! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, I love hearing what you are up to. Christine x

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