I was supposed to pick up my new alpaca on Saturday. I was going to drive the van up to the farm and bring her to her new home. Just me and Evita on the open road, and possibly a trip through a drive-thru for kicks. That's what was supposed to happen until it was discovered that she has mites on her ankles. Mites are microscopic parasites, and she was in full fleece when I went to see her, so I had no idea there was a problem. There was no hair loss or other visible symptoms. The mites were discovered on shearing day (thank goodness we didn't take her before then). The mites need to be eliminated before Evita comes to live with Devi and the other alpacas at the farm where I board, so it will be another two weeks before I can bring her home. Bummer.
The waiting is finally over at Olde Spring Alpacas, where I board my animal. They have a new cria (cria is the term for a baby alpaca), born earlier this week. He's a little white guy with a spot of brown on his side. He has extremely soft, and very curly cria fleece, and he is a very curious and brave little guy. He walked right up to me and my husband and gave us a sniff. You don't really appreciate how little cria are until you see one in person. This little guy is fourteen pounds, and his head comes to just above my knee! I'm sure I'll have pics pretty soon. I'm always taking pictures.
I've been waiting to work with Devi's fleece. I decided to try a cold water wash since I'm paranoid about accidental felting. I was pleased with the way it worked on alpaca fleece. Almost all of the dirt, and quite a bit of the vegetable matter came out in the cold water soak and left the fleece feeling as soft as it was when freshly shorn, and with the lock structure preserved quite a bit. I filled a large sterilite tub with cold water and submerged the fleece - no lingerie bag needed. I covered it and let it sit for 24 hours. I then drained the dirty water, spun the water out of the fleece (in lingerie bags) in my washing machine. While the fiber was drying a bit, I shook out a lot of the vm and did some picking. I refilled the tub with more cold water and resubmerged the fleece for another 12 hour soak. I spun the water out a second time, let the fleece dry, and that was it. Now I can begin carding and spinning it, but I do want to finish with the hand dyed alpaca that is on my wheel right now. I tried the cold water wash on the romney I picked up at the sheep and wool festival as well, but I have mixed feelings about the results. The fleece is a great deal cleaner for sure, but there is still quite a bit of lanolin in it. It also smells a bit. However, I did not let it soak for the entire seven days that is to be allowed for cold washing sheep fleece, but as an apartment dweller, I was concerned about the smell. I think I'm going to go with hot water and blue dawn, give it a vinegar rinse and work with whatever the results are. I really just want it clean enough to store. Right now there's still too much lanolin and I think it would get quite sticky if left in storage for a while.
I didn't have to wait to get the hang of Navajo-plying. I watched this video on youtube, and caught on. I made a couple of practice hanks with some fiber samples I had lying around. Now I feel quite comfortable with it. I think the romney is going to be Navajo-plied. It really is quite simple. Just think finger knitting, but bigger, as you will hear in the video.
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