cotton, Crochet, knitting, Spinning, Weaving

Working with Camelids and Other Fiber Shenanigans

The latest cold snap has got me suddenly working with the camelids . Back when I first started spinning I would search out as many different types of fibers as I could find. In my search I found myself driving to a local farm to purchase my first Huacaya alpaca combed top. It was so lofty and soft. I ended up knitting my first lace shawl out of this precious yarn. My young mind couldn’t appreciate the natural brownish grey color and so the project was dyed (slightly felted) in red Kool-Aid. It has taken years for it to soften up and I wear it all the time. I still have a skein of this yarn un-dyed in my stash awaiting a worthy project.

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My first lace shawl knit from handspun alpaca and dyed with Kool-Aid

The next year I got bold and bought a raw alpaca fleece at a fiber festival. I was determined to turn Babydoll’s first clip into something special. I knit a  huge Faroese shawl out of it. These wing shaped shawls are not the most stylish in my opinion but they sit nicely on the shoulders without any pins or draping.

 

It’s my heat-me-up-til-I-sweat shawl.  The fiber is so soft though that it pills like crazy. It’s really shaggy looking now but, oh well.

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Super, soft alpaca first-clip fiber pills a lot but makes a lofty, warm shawl.

I wear it around the house like a uniform in the winter.

The llama fiber I bought last year from Baker’s Studio in Allegan, MI was recently put to use. I crocheted a poncho with a shawl collar. My intention was to follow the pattern, Night and Day Poncho by Lion Brand,  but then..sigh…things went awry. Even using my largest hook my gauge was off, way off. I had to work 3 times as many rows and add double crochets to make the center meet. It worked up fun and fast though. I added a crochet cord and tassels to jazz it up.

 

Still on my Camelid kick I purchased some Suri alpaca from a sweet little farm (I can’t think of the name at the moment) in Chesterton, IN. I didn’t realize there were two different types of alpaca fiber. I had only previously worked with the fluffy huacaya type. It has a crimp to it and spins a lot like fine wool whereas the suri has a spirally, silky curl.

Suri alpaca is more rare than Huacaya according to the Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook. Approximately only 2% of alpaca fiber on the market is Suri.

I would soon find out why I haven’t found much of this fiber in my spinning circles. It is tricky to work with. After it was washed I thought I’d just use my mini combs to process it into combed top. Nope! It wasn’t having that. The fibers were super slippery and flying all over the place. I ended up carding it into silky clouds.

 

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Cleaned Suri alpaca

 

 

When I started to spin it into a fine yarn I realized what a pain in the butt that would be. The singles kept trying to slide apart but adding more twist would just kink it up. I was so over it after about an hour and ended up just feeding it into my wheel like a mad women trying to get it over with.  I ended up with a couple of floppy aran weight skeins.

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handspun Suri alpaca yarn

 

At the moment I am revisiting camel down. I actually spun some years ago and loved it. I had 1oz of camel down in my stash from Afghanistan. This particular batch is much courser than the other fiber I’ve worked with. I spin it the same way as with cotton using a supported backwards, long-draw draft.

 

What next? Well, I did pick up some English angora earlier this year at Michigan Fiber Fest. We’ll see what happens.

As for the other fiber shenanigans let’s see here.

I spun of a lot of mostly wool blends into basic 2-ply fingering weight

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Finished a lace-weight, space-dyed chain-plied Polworth/Silk  skein. It took forever to spin. I am looking forward to seeing how this will knit up. Probably super stripy.

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Finally finished the socks I started in August 2017

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Made some new miter square slippers and lined them with fleece.

 

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Finished weaving the cotton warp I put on my floor loom over the summer using handspun, natural colored cotton remnants. I even incorporated the thrums from the last project for a funky shaggy type fabric that I think will make a nice summer top.

 

There is one more special project I was able to finish up on winter break. My handspun challenge project is complete. You’ll just have to wait to see this one at another time.

3 thoughts on “Working with Camelids and Other Fiber Shenanigans”

  1. Lol! I was doing a search for “weaving with handspun” and found your lovely post. I had to laugh at your camel. We shop at the same fiber bonanza! 😂 It was such a coincidence finding another one in the sea of the internet, I had to say something. Love your projects! 🙌

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