A+ Alpaca Fiber Mill

Processing 100%alpaca yarn and roving

Washing your fiber

The first step in clean fiber and beautiful yarn starts on shearing day. Be sure to blow out or vacuum the dirt and hand pick as much of the vegetable matter as you can from your animal's fleece. Look at the cut side and remove all second cuts (the fibers that are less than 1 inch in length) and discard.

Now you are ready to carefully wash the fiber. Fill your washer with hot water, while it is filling put your fleece on a table and shake out any short ends or vegetation you may have missed. Place your fiber into a mesh laundry bag or bags. Do not overstuff the bags; the fiber should be loose inside - no more than 5 pounds at a time. TURN OFF your washer, add cup of Dawn dish soap, mix soap in the water with your hands. Carefully add the mesh bags of fiber, pushing them under the water a couple of times, make sure the fiber can move in the bag. DO NOT AGITATE - this will result in felted fiber. Let the fiber soak about 30 minutes. Turn your washer to spin and drain and spin the bags of fiber. DO NOT AGITATE. Take fiber out of the washer. Fill the washer with warm water (no soap this time) to rinse the fiber. When the washer is full, turn it OFF, put the mesh bags of fiber back into the water, and push them under the water. Be sure to push the bags into the water a few times to loosen up the fiber clumps. You will be able to feel it in the bags as it loosens up. Let the fiber soak 30 minutes. If your rinse water is still dirty, again fill the washer with warm water (no soap this time) to rinse the fiber. When the washer is full, turn it OFF, put the mesh bags of fiber back into the water, and push them under the water. Be sure to push the bags into the water a few times to loosen up the fiber clumps. You will be able to feel it in the bags as it loosens up.

The teacup test: this test will tell you if your fiber is clean enough for processing. Take a small amount of your washed fiber, place in a white coffee or teacup and fill half full with water. Put it in the microwave for one minute with a drop of dish soap. Lift out the fiber and see if there is any residue left in the cup.

Once you pass the teacup test, you can remove all the fiber from the mesh bags and spread out to dry. A screen works the best, and then the air can circulate all around while it dries. It seems to help if you go "fluff" the fiber with your hands every now and then to speed the drying process. Not only this helps with the drying process, but if you gently separate or pull the fiber apart, this gives you an opportunity to look for any vegetation that might have been missed. Hay and vegetation comes out easily at this stage.

If you are storing your fiber, make sure it is completely dry, and then add a dryer sheet to the box to keep the moths away.

 

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