Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Fiber ~ skirting

I thought I would use this week to write about preparing alpaca fiber to make it into yarn. Next week I will focus my blog posts on spining that prepared fiber into yarn. Maybe the next week I can focus on knitting, but I may be getting ahead of myself already.

Fiber is the name for the alpaca's fur/wool/hair. It is the ultimate end product created by alpacas.

Each spring we shear our alpacas, and collect this wonderful fiber. After our yearly shearing, we put their fiber in a bag.



When I want to make something with the fiber, I grab the bag that has the color I want. I took these pictures with Twilight's fiber (she is a dark silver grey, though her fiber looks black in these picture).

The first step is skirting. Here is our skirting table:



J made this skirting table for me out of wire shelving (like what you would use in a closet). It works perfect for skirting!

I lay out the fiber and pick out any debris, like this seed head:



Or bits of hay:



Another trick we do, during skirting, is to hold onto one end of a handful of fiber, and shake it:



I then flip it over, hang onto the other end, and shake it again. What this does is shake loose the dreaded 2nd cuts. Second cuts are shorter fibers that happen during shearing when the shearer has to go over one spot more than once. The better the shearer the less second cuts, but even an accomplished pro will have some.

In this picture is a regular bundle of fiber (middle of the picture), and the shorter second cuts (in the lower right corner). Sorry the lighting on this picture is so dreadful, I actually retook this picture several times and this is the best I could get. This is why I am not a professional photographer LOL:



You possibly could use second cuts but most people skirt them out. I skirt them out and throw them into our refuse bin. When that bin is full, we throw it in the woods. I figure birds and small rodents can use these to help build their homes/nests.

Once I have most of the debris picked out and the second cuts removed, I am done skirting.

Next step ~ weighing out batches of fiber

4 comments:

Louellen Lawson said...

Looking forward to the next installment. :)

Oak Haven Alpacas said...

so glad to hear that. I was hoping to pull together a "to be continued" fiber story :)

Cara

Linda said...

You also use second cuts for felting or even stuffing. Pillows, not turkey.

Oak Haven Alpacas said...

that's a great point Linda. There are tons of uses for 2nd cuts. I just get so overwhelmed with how much fiber we have, that I sometimes push aside the stuff I just don't have time for.

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