Monstrous piles of alpaca fiber

Shearing Alpacas
This is a fun one that I just didn’t post at the time. In July we visited Oregon and while there, helped my in-laws shear their two alpacas.  Sal and Pepe had been growing their coats for over a year, so as my title suggests, the day ended with ginormous piles of alpaca fiber. Enough to make any spinner drool. I was SO excited to not only see this process happen, but help with it.

Here’s Sal and Pepe, getting a little nervous about being herded into a smaller pen. The goats were curious as well…what was about to happen to their fearless pair of leaders?
Shearing Alpacas
Shearing Alpacas
We started with shots of sedative from the local vet. The previous shearing was sans sedative, and according to R., Sal and Pepe do not take kindly to shearing while sober. Pepe really fought the sedative this time, but eventually even he nodded off. We laid each in turn on the shearing table, restrained their legs against errant kicks, and got to work. None of us have much shearing experience but thanks to a few youtube tutorials the night before, I think we did a pretty solid job.
Shearing Alpacas
Shearing Alpacas

Underneath all that fiber was a very petite pair of alpacas!

Shearing Alpacas
Shearing Alpacas

The goats eventually lost interest and started climbing on farm machinery.
Shearing Alpacas

I worked at skirting for most of the afternoon. The place I send fiber for processing, like most mills, charges a steep fee if they have to skirt your fiber for you. I wasn’t sure how clean was “clean enough” so I just kept clipping. Even after all the waste – due to skirting and perhaps inexpert clipping on our part – there was nearly 7 pounds of fiber per alpaca.
Shearing Alpacas
Shearing Alpacas

The next morning I walked into UPS holding these bags and they helped me smush them up and ship them off to Mill Creek Fiber Works. I like a little bit of wool mixed in with my alpaca, so Sal is mixed with 30% merino and Pepe with 30% pygora. The mill owner, Kate, is awesome. She rushed the order and got it to me in Ohio in time for our move to Mexico.

Including everything – shipping, wool additions, blending – the final roving cost works out to about $21/lb. Not cheap, but still less than half of what it costs to buy alpaca roving retail. Of course, I am not the one paying for the care of these alpacas either…if I were it might make the DIY cost equal to retail. I’m very thankful to have in-laws who raise alpacas and don’t have need for the fiber…as if I needed any more proof that I married the right person.

And now for the picture I promised – monstrous piles:

PicMonkey Collage

Advertisements

8 comments

  1. Pingback: What else do you make with piles of handspun? | Foxflat's Blog
  2. Liz · October 23, 2014

    I know this was hard work, but it DOES look like you had fun! The experience and end results were certainly worth it.

  3. April · September 26, 2014

    I’m sure those towers feel as luscious as they look. Have fun spinning!

  4. Nancy Kolosseus · September 22, 2014

    Did you have any problem getting the fiber through customs? Ron’s suggestion? Date: Sun, 21 Sep 2014 22:47:50 +0000 To: nkolosseus@hotmail.com

    • foxflat · September 27, 2014

      I did give serious thought to Ron’s suggestion, but after a bunch of googling and some online consulting with fellow fiber travelers, I just took the fiber through in my suitcase. There weren’t any issues the first time around, so I’ll try bringing another stack when I visit Ohio next.

  5. Entropy Always Wins · September 22, 2014

    very cool!

  6. Angela Hickman · September 22, 2014

    Holy moly that’s a lot of fiber! Did you bring any of it with you to Mexico? (I can’t remember if you said you had your wheel.) I can’t wait to hear about how this spins up, not to mention your plans for it!

    • foxflat · September 22, 2014

      I do have a little portable wheel a friend let me borrow. My mom just mailed off a pile of the alpaca last week, and we’ll see how it works its way through the Mexican mail system. She’ll bring me some more when she visits too.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s