First you shear the alpacas of their fibre, then the fibre has to be cleaned of all the vegetable matter (VM) it has accumulated when the alpacas have had a good roll on the ground - a daily occurrence. (Cleaning the VM from the fibre is a tedious job, and one that would be far easier if the alpaca's are properly brushed prior to shearing.)
Then the fleece has to be carded. This is done in order to align all the fibres in the same direction in order to produce batts - great clumps of fibres all running in the same direction.
After carding, one can then proceed with the spinning of the fibre, and then, finally, use the resulting yarn to weave :) There are a couple of washing procedures in between, but you get the gist of the process.
As the drum carding machines are quite pricey, I searched the Net for weeks for a second hand unit - even contacting local spinning / weaving associations, but with no success. So, in mid-December we finally succumbed and purchased a new carding machine from our local Ashford dealer. (What we didn't know when we ordered it online was that she was away in France - assisting her mother through her grandmother's passing. So, delivery of our machine was delayed.)
But, the drum carder finally arrived, and after setting it up, we proceed with the carding of all the alpaca fibre from 2013, as well as the alpaca fibre we had harvested (with the assistance of Helderstroom Alpacas) this past October.
|RMan is feeding the fibre into the carder with|
his left hand, whilst turning the drum lever
with his right hand
|The seam - visible just off-centre on the drum - is|
where the aligned "batt" of fibre is carefully removed
from the carding machine
|Batts of carded fibre - still a couple of|
stubborn bits of vegetable matter remain
Who will perform the task when it comes to spinning the batts - well, we'll have to wait until we get our spinning machine. As the supplier didn't have stock, and it had to be ordered from Ashford in New Zealand, it is still on the water...