Monday, November 28, 2011

Fiber ~ washing

I've had some comments asking when I wash the fiber. There are many ways to do this, and different spinners will do things in a different order. There was a time I washed the fiber after skirting it and before flicking it. After doing this quite a few times, we've settled on waiting to wash it until it's in yarn form. For one thing, you should wash it at this point anyway, to set the twist in the yarn. The other thing we found is that washing it earlier on messes up the organization of the alpaca fiber, making it harder to flick and spin.

Anytime you wash alpaca you have to be careful about not felting the fiber. The combination of heat, water and aggitation can felt the fiber. I've read this can happen very easily, so I have always been careful of this. But I also should say that in the three years I've been working with this fiber, I've never had it accidentally felt on me. But as a caution, I do try to be careful of this.

I fill the kitchen sink with hot water (about as hot as I would for washing dishes). I put in about as much Dawn dish washing soap as I could for a sink full of dishes. I gently put the skein of yarn in the sink:

I let it sit in this hot soapy water for about 20 minutes. I make sure not to aggitate it, just let it sit there.

After those 20 minutes are up, I gently pull the skein out, squeeze it very lightly. I hold the skein while I drain the sink. I then fill the sink with hot water, no soap this time. I sit it in there for about 5 minute. I gently squeeze the skien, and hold it while I drain the sink. I fill the sink one more time with plain water (no soap) and let it sit for about 15 minutes. The time on these can be changed, you just want to make sure the soap has a chance to get the grim out, and the yarn has a chance to sit in water with out soap to get the soap out I find a lot of the dirt sifts out during those two water only soaks.

This is what the yarn looks like by this point:

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