Trash to Treasure in spinning

Aw, come on – we all have them. Admit it. You save them too. Those trashy bits of the most perfect fleece. “I’ll comb it”, yeah, right. Alpaca tui so soft, but the poor little thing was a roller, wasn’t he? And that Cormo with the bits of hay. You already made the sweater, shawl, socks, hat, gloves, etc. The fleece has already done its job in other projects.

Well, I get out what trash I can and then card them. This is a particularly free fiber. How could I spoil it? And Frugal Fibergal just can’t throw that stuff away. Obviously, this should be done just before you clean the dickens out of your carder to get out all the trash.

See the neps and vegetation?

But look at what it becomes.

I spin a fat singles, uneven due to the junk, and ply with something clingy and felting like Romney. I use a strong dose of vinegar in the rinse water to help break down the weeds and wash very vigorously. I am trying for a partially felted yarn. [Read as I beat the crap out of it.] By the time it is ready for knitting, I feel few chunks, though a couple fall out while I knit – leggings in this case. Then the whole thing goes for a round in the washer, or two. By now, I don’t feed any chunks or sticks, just the haze created by the baby alpaca standing straight out from the static electricity of washing. (Sometimes drying too.) See the haze?

Even as I photograph this on my arm, my first though is ‘I wish I could afford a sweater’s worth of this yarn’. And then it hits me. This is my leftover junk and I have a pile of it. No problem! Ooh, goody.

And on a separate note, the first flowers of spring in our yard. Even the weeds look good close up, don't they?

Oh, and one last thing. You all know by now that I am MAD about swatch sites. I just love them. In case you might have missed it, I direct you to The Walker Treasury Project. Boy, what is not to love on this site? It is elegant and simple. It has rules which make things easier. Every swatch I see both educates and inspires me. I often have a page or two of the Treasury books with me for any given project, so I really enjoy seeing these in color. Who wouldn't want their swatch to permanently represent a pattern here?


Nicole said...

Thanks for your lovely comments about the WTP - I'm glad you're finding it so helpful!

Wendy said...

I just got 4 bags full of llama fiber...It is free and full of all sorts of vegi matter and dirt. Do I wash it first? I only have 2 small hand carders. I guess I should invest in a drum carder.

fibergal said...

Do NOT wash it yet. First, take it outside and shake it. If you can make it to a home improvement store, get some 1/4" hardware cloth (metal screening). Lay the fiber on it and beat it with a stick. No, really, beat it with a stick. I put my screen in an old window frame and put it on sawhorses, but the idea is to beat the vegi matter out. THEN wash it. Sure makes a difference. With llama, you probably can just finger fluff it instead of card it.

However, a lot of people spin this stuff dirty and wash it later. Since llamas like to roll in the dirt, they get dusty. And it can be very slippery. So some people like the dirt to give 'tooth' to the spinning. I do this too if it doesn't contain burrs. It should have no grease as they don't produce it. But wash it HOT HOT HOT afterwards.

Katherine said...

I just pulled some llama out of my stash and was very, very disappointed in the prep. Full of neps and short bits. The veg wasn't too bad, but neps were. It couldn't be spun evenly at all!

If I hadn't been in a tearing hurry I would have combed it before spinning.

Katherine said...

Futher thoughts. Actually, it was alpaca and super soft. But I really hate the dust--I have allergies and it makes my hands and nose itchy! So I'm inclined to wash before spinning.