Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sertified Sorted

Don't you just love the way alpaca feels? Soft, Soft, Soft! But trying to spin it? Well that is tough love!

If you were to look at wool under a microscope, you would see that the surface is covered with scales that look like the shingles on an old wood roof. Some of them stand up a little more than others. On more coarse wool, those shingles (okay - scales) really stand up. These little do-dads make for long lasting carpet but they poke the more tender skin of the rest of us Princesses.
Alpaca has a very subdued scaling. So it is less likely to itch....unless you get unlucky enough to have alpaca with a very high micorn, such as a 30 micron. But then it is called Llama. And so as not to annoy my Llama grower friends, sometimes a very fine fleeced Llama can qualify as alpaca fleece! Go figure.

Alpaca as you probably know is a relative of the Llama. But it was bred specifically for its fine fiber. They are NOT pack animals like the Llama. And yes they sometimes intermarry with Llamas and produce something....... well lets not talk about that in polite company.

We are fortunate enough to have made the aquaintance of Robyn Kuhl and the co-op members at NAAFP (North American Alpaca Fiber Producers). Their members, coming from all over the country are highly skilled at sorting their clips (or blanket as they call it) by micron and color. This is no small task because there are officially 16 different colors in the US. Peru claims to have 52. But thats because my mom tells me that television has ruined my eyes to the nuance of color. (can you see the eye-roll going on here?)

NAAFP brings us the best fiber! It is so clean of "botanicals"( formerly known as vegetable matter.) and you can tell these animals were lovingly cared for. We did a joint project with them last year, the product of which was our Lilura yarn, a 50%mountain merino and 50% Alpaca. They went on to make their portion into Hats and scarves which are yummy!

Linda: I just bought a herd of alpacas from Pakistan.
Karen: "Islamabad?"
Linda: No I just prefer alpacas.

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