…cleaned, carded, and ready to spin. I picked up it up yesterday from Still River Mill, just over the Connecticut border. It’s the fiber shorn from Read’s mom’s alpacas that I brought back from Oregon.
The white fiber was too long for the mill machines to process, but it has been washed. I may hand card it. Or stuff a pillow with it. The black fiber processed just fine. Half of it I kept 100% alpaca, and half I’m having blended with merino to make a 50/50 mix. The merino will add elasticity and breathability (alpaca garments are almost too warm).
Here’s the bag of 100% alpaca:
Now for the big question. Was processing this fiber cheaper than buying roving outright?
I brought in 3.3 pounds of black alpaca fiber. For the simplicity’s sake, I’m keeping the merino blending out of the equation and assuming 100% alpaca for the whole bag.
It cost $12.50/lb to wash and clean it (12.5 x 3.3 = 41.25).
After the cleaning, 2.7 pounds remained. It cost $12.50/lb to turn it into roving (12.5. x 2.7 = 33.75).
So the bag of black roving, which is 43.2 ounces, cost $75.00.
A scan of google shopping results lists $2.75/oz to $3.50/oz as the market rate for some alpaca roving. I like bargain shopping, so let’s assume I buy a few pounds at $2.75/oz. A full 43.2 ounces would cost $118.80.
Throw in the half tank of gas it cost to visit Still River Mill, and I may have broke even. Breaking even is actually really good when it comes to this stuff. Of course the alpaca’s owners are my in-laws and they kindly gave me bags of fiber for free. But maybe you know some pet alpacas or sheep whose fiber isn’t being used. It’d be worth taking it to a mill.
Besides, DIY is not always a money-saving venture…which, if you like DIY, I’m sure you know. My friend estimates her chickens’ eggs cost at least 25
cents dollars apiece. Many of the drool-worthy sweater patterns on ravelry call for at least $100 in yarn. And there was that best-selling book called “The $64 Tomato”, the title of which is sadly not hyperbole. So yeah…breaking even is good. And it’s great fun (for everyone? maybe just for a fiber enthusiast) to see something through from animal to finished object.