My MIL, who is currently working in New Hampshire sent me a birthday gift a few weeks ago. A giant box of raw alpaca! Two big bags one, creamy white, and one a rich auburn brown color. I was daunted by the thought of washing it all. I've never done it before, but I have been reading, and watching a ton videos of people doing it. So, after a few more days of research, and some tool making I dove in.
The first thing I needed was a skirting table. I'm the type of person that would always prefer making my tools rather than buying them. And have you priced a skirting table lately?! Yowch, they are expensive!
I went to Lowes, and bought some 1.5" thick pvc pipe, cut it into 3x5 pieces, and made a rectangle out of them. Then I covered it in plastic bird netting which was all I could find. I'm getting some sturdier plastic chicken wire from my mom when I remember. I just zip tied the netting to the pvc rectangle. Presto, a skirting table that didn't even cost 15.00! I use my husbands saw horses, and it works like a charm.
So, after getting the big clumps of debris, and other unmentionables out of the wool, I filled my lingerie bags with fiber and started soaking them.
Shoot, wishing I had taken photos of all of this, but was way too busy and forgot. Next time!
I washed my wool in my kitchen sink, I filled it with the hottest water my sink could provide, and a kettle of boiling water which got me a temp of 140 or so, which seemed to work perfectly. I added about 1/2 cup of liquid dish soap (not dishwasher detergent do not use that) making sure not to make the water sudsy. After that I very slowly, and gently pushed the bags into the water and let them soak for a half an hour.
Seeing how dusty and grass ridden this stuff was, I was skeptical that simply letting them sit would get everything out, but it did! I still have some grass to pick out, but for the most part it came out beautifully.
I've only cleaned a small fraction of what was in the box, and what I've done is enough to last me for a long while. Right now, I'm using big slicker brushes to card the fiber. They aren't the greatest tools for the job, but I'm saving my dollars for hand carders or a pair of combs. I can't decide which I want more. I don't mind spinning carded rolags, or combed top, it's really more of a question of which is a better process for the alpaca. If any spinners can give me their opinion or advice on combs vs carders that would be great!
So that's what I've been up to. It's getting warmer everyday and flowers are beginning to pop up here, and there. Could winter really be ending?