Spinning and Carding Alpaca on the Drum Carder

This should be the last post on spinning for a while as the felting will be resuming after the bank holiday.  I am like a dog with a bone when I learn something new and like to immerse myself in the new thing until I feel confident about what I am doing.  I also need to clear up my dining room/workspace for eating as my daughter is coming to visit for my birthday! Yay!  We haven’t physically seen each other for a year, but this time we can hug.  We have all had both of our Covid jabs so I am really looking forward to seeing her and giving and getting hugs.  There may be tears.  We have a long weekend because of the May bank holiday, which is Memorial Day in the USA.  No hobbies will be undertaken until afterwards.  I still need to finish off some presents and will be starting new projects.  It is nearly June and I need to get everything done by the beginning of September for birthdays and Christmas.  No pressure, right?

My regular readers will know that I am not a big fan of alpaca.  It is not a good felter.  I have written about this previously in 3 parts.  I received a lot of alpaca in a bag of Botany Lap Waste from World of Wool.  The thing about Botany Lap Waste is that you do not know what you are going to get.  I was going to give it to my friend so she could spin with it, but we went into lockdown, so I had been hanging on to it all this time.  I have since learned that it is possible to ask World of Wool to include only wool in Botany Lap Waste as it was going to be used for felting and when I ordered for the second time, that is what I got, and some lovely colors also.  Today I pulled out the bag of alpaca.

IMG_0804This is just the tip of the iceberg.  I separated the alpaca into browns and greys.  I then rummaged through my fiber stash and found some white and some more grey and black.  I already had the drum carder out.  A friend suggested that I get a wallpaper paste brush to use as a packing brush, so I asked the hubs to get me one the next time he went to the DIY store.  He wanted to know what it was for, I explained, I showed him a video and we looked at a couple of websites and we decided it would be best to get one from Wingham Wool Works.  This is what my drum carder looks like now.

IMG_0806It doesn’t exactly fit on the carder, but with a couple of 5mm spacers it does the job.  


I still use a dog brush to really pack down the fibers and to smooth them out if required.  So, I started with the browns to make a batt.  Some of the smaller pieces of alpaca were starting to matt up and they were spread out and placed on the carder through the lickerin.  The larger pieces were put on the drum from the top.  My carder is a medium 72tpi as I wasn’t sure what exactly I would be using it for, but as most of my roving is fine, I put the wool on the top and drag it as the wheel goes around similar to placing it on the blending board and that way I don’t get too much fiber stuck in the lickerin.  I made three batts of brown and three batts with grey and black.

IMG_0808I mentioned I found some white and added it to each of the batts.

These batts are very soft and fluffy.  You just want to cuddle them, that is how nice they feel.  I might actually have enough to knit something.  We will see how much I get after it is all spun and plied.

I held back on carding a large ball of blue grey roving and the natural black in the top photo.  I decided to try spinning the alpaca straight from the roving as I need to learn how to do this.  I have heard that spinning alpaca is more difficult than spinning merino as it is more fine.  What do you think of this?

IMG_0809I managed to spin a fine single and fill up the whole bobbin.  Although there were a few breakages, there was no swearing.  I know it is still very twisty in some parts, but I have so far managed to get them out during the plying stage to make a balanced yarn.  So that’s it for now.  I won’t be posting anything else until I felted something. 🙂