I finally had some time to begin my final project. We decided (ok, I decided, because my husband can never remember what we decided to do on this) to use the mid range grey. So I am using 70% white fibers to 30% black/dark fibers. I card up 1g rolags. That works out to .5g white Merino, .2g yak, .1g white alpaca, .1g black alpaca, and .1g Bombyx silk.
The Merino I am using is a really old (has been in my garage for 5 years old) fleece that was gifted to me. It’s not spectacular Merino, it has a bunch of second cuts and VM. I have figure out that the only good way to process it is to comb it. So step one was to wash it. Here is a pic post washing.
you can see the VM still in there, the stuff on the bottom is worse than what’s on top. Here it is after I made it happy by combing it.
There is still some VM but it is WAY easier to blend now. Is this a lot of work for fiber that is now going to be cut and blended with other fiber? Well, yes it is. However, the final product will be so much better. It won’t have the VM and it won’t have the second cuts.
Step two, to wash the alpaca or not wash the alpaca? You would not think that this was such a hard decision, but it is. I spent 3 years spinning alpaca without washing it. Because it does not have the lanolin that sheep have, you are mostly dealing with dust and the occasional VM. Also, I am not planning on washing the yak, so if the alpaca is not washed, it’s not the end of the world.
This is the white alpaca unwashed. It has a wonderful staple length for most of it. It’s really the only white alpaca I own. So I am working with this small bag. It’s not a bright white, and it looks a bit dusty. I ended up washing about 1/2 of it. It did not change the color at all. While I was waiting for it to dry I blended up about 30 rolags (of my first 144) yesterday. .1g of white alpaca is so small, that in the grand scheme, other than adding to the light colors, you would not be able to tell that it’s not washed. So I will work with the stuff I washed yesterday and feels dry this am. (love radiant heaters) Then when I run out of that, I will just work with the unwashed stuff.
Here is a pic of my happy piles of fiber weighed out and ready to be carded. I am sure there are people who look at this process differently, I just can’t figure out a better way to get the even blending I want with the percentages I want without doing it in 1g batches. I could probably do this on a drum, but the staple length of these fibers now that I have cut them to match the yak is about 1/2 inch. I think the fibers would get stuck to the carding cloth on the drum and be hard to get off, and it would be a nightmare to spin them. It might be worth an experiment another time, but not on this project.