Monday, May 25, 2009

Meet the extended family

Now that Devi is settled in and Evita has come to her new home, it's time I introduced their herd buddies. But first, get to know Evita a little better. She is the girl I was supposed to get earlier this month, who ended up having mites. We finally got the all clear to pick her up this past weekend. She's nicely settled in now, and I'm processing her fleece.

Evita and Devi live at Olde Spring Alpacas, the farm where I board my animals. They spend their time with a weanling boy and a yearling girl who belong to Olde Spring Alpacas. Jolli Mon is the boy and Keela is the girl. The pic below is of the Jolli Mon (left), Devi (center) and Keela (right).

Jolli Mon, Keela, Devi and Evita live in one pasture together. The rest of the herd lives in an adjoining pasture. These are the bred females that belong to Olde Spring Alpacas, with one recent birth. The pic below is of a true black girl nick named sixty two. I can't remember her real name, but sixty two was her auction number so that's what everyone calls her. Next to sixty two is Bali and her new cria, Captain Rex.

Here's Captain Rex with Sixty Two, Bali and Summer in the background. Sixty Two and Summer play aunty for Captain Rex. He's a curious little guy, with a handsome face and wonderful cria fleece. I'm excited to watch him grow. He's visibly bigger every time I go to see my two girls.

Meanwhile....back at the apartment.....

I'm processing Evita's fleece and spinning Devi's. All I can say about washing fleeces is: now I understand why they use blue Dawn dish liquid to clean animals that are victims of oil spills. That stuff will remove anything. Evita is white, so forget the cold water wash. I ran the tap until it was hotter than I could stand it, added the Dawn and submerged the fleece. The first batch was washed in garment bags. I'm about to throw that batch out the window. I've had to wash it four or five times now, without the garment bag, and it's still not entirely clean. Lessons learned: No garment bag when soaking a fleece. Use the garment bag if you're spinning out the water in your washer or dryer (no heat in the dryer, spin cylce only in the washer). The garment bag helps maintain lock structure, but the water doesn't penetrate enough to remove all of the dirt. White alpaca fiber tends to have a band of brown/beige dirt that is very stubborn to remove. The dirt band was still there after three washes and rinses in the garment bag. I washed a smaller batch of fleece without a garment bag, in ultra hot water with Dawn. Two washes and two rinses, and I have lovely, fluffly white fleece. Still some vm, but not an inordinate amount. Second lesson learned: Wash small amounts at one time so the water and soap can penetrate. Third lesson learned: You're better off skirting first.

Devi's fiber is spinning up nicely. I took ten ounces and divided it up into equal portions. I'm going to spin worsted weight singles and then 2 ply. I'm spinning semi-long draw, and struggling to spin the singles thick enough for a worsted weight 2 ply. Apparently I can only spin lace weight evenly. I'm carding Devi's fiber into rolags because I don't have combs and I like working with fluffly alpaca rolags, although the cria fiber has a lot of static. It sticks to the cards and me. The singles I've spun so far are very soft and a beautiful chocolate brown. Wish I could spin all the time, but I've only had time for two or three rolags a day. I'm off to pull that stubborn fleece out of the rinse water.


  1. Great post. I had the same experience with the garment bag. It hindered the washing process. Your alpacas are adorable!

  2. Can't wait to see picts of your yarn! It's really special when it comes from our very own 4-leggeds, isn't it?
    I have a little meshy type thingy that I put over my drain when I let the water out of the sink because I'm afraid of plugging up my septic system.

  3. I need to get some sort of mesh for my drain too. I was also thinking of creating some sort of basket that would lift the fleece out of the water and collect it all at the same time.