Monday, March 9, 2009

The shearing experience continues

So I came home with two bags of fleeces, one more than the other. What the heck comes next?

Washing them. I put back some of the nasty bits of the alpaca that PJ was loading me with but as you can tell from the previous posts pics, she did get some snuck in. I did a quick trip to the Dollar Tree for some mesh laundry bags - $1 three 12x15 inch bags. I then had to clean out the buckets that had been used with the pond fish and sitting out on the back patio all winter. Then since Duffy had shown the amazing results of the apparently clean but really not OFFF alpaca I decided mine should be washed too. This is the pretty apricot colored stuff I had gotten in case you didn't see it back in September:

I loaded up three bags with the apricot stuff and then took some of the worst nasty bits stuff of the white and then put them in the two buckets with some Palmolive (its what they had at the Dollar Tree) and hot water and let them soak over night. Oh my! The apricot water was just as brown as the nasty bits water. So I ran lukewarm water over the apricot stuff and then filled up the bucket with more hot water and detergent and let it soak again overnight. The white stuff took a little bit more work before it got its second soak. PJ had mentioned something about burrs and the alpacas. I found what she was talking about - there were burrs in the nasty bits besides the usual cause of the nasty. There was also a lot more grass and grass seeds and hay in their as well. I picked and washed, picked and washed and had the fleece come out looking much better. Still a little bit of darker areas where the nasty bits had been but looking like something that could actually be used now.

I rinsed out the second really dirty buckets today and got the water to run cleanly through them. I'm cheating with the drying process - I'm using the drying rack in my dryer and have the white fleece in the mesh bags going through a cycle. Then I'll run the apricot through. I figured the white if there was a problem since it was the 'nasty bits' stuff could be a better write off if something happened than anything else. Plus I don't have drying racks to setup to try to dry them any other way efficiently.

I used the cat flicker brushes that I had to try and get the 'blobs' back into a spinning shape. This also allowed me to get more of the vm still left in. So here's the progression, the middle row of the collage shows the same pic twice (Picassa does that if you don't have enough to make the collage) showing the nasty bits prewashing. The top and bottom rows show pics of the nasty bits after they have been washed and coming from the dryer and then the combed 'fluff'.

ETA: While working more with the white alpaca cleaned nasty bit bags I'm finding a lot of dead flea bodies in the mix. I've but those bags into a separate bag and on hold to decide it I really want to put the effort into picking out the bodies and the vm still in there.

I finished sock #1 of the "Band Stoppin' Boot Sock". I did a short row heel and a star toe as deviations from Sharon's "Traffic Stoppin' Boot Sock" pattern. I'm planning on giving the socks to my sister Jennifer I think.

This morning there was snow on the ground and I got a few pics of it with the previously posted crocuses (they were just poking through the ground):

The Cascade Lizard Ridge Blanket is shown on Cascade Yarns 220 patterns page! (Scroll to the bottom!)


  1. I love the sock!! :D You are so intrepid with your shearing and fleece washing. I'm a wimp, I just click "buy now" and nice, clean, fluffy rovings come to my doorstep. ;P

  2. Thank you! Believe me that 'buy now' clicking is looking really good. ;^)

  3. My alpaca from Saturday was MUCH worse than what your pictures show - I wound up pitching the whole mess in the trash. Glad it was only $5! Next up is the Icelandic; we'll see how that goes . . .

  4. It's gotten easier to pitch more of the stuff as I'm working with it. I do have some that might be workable but oh my! Getting there has been a chore!

  5. I had posted a note here in the wee hours this morning (migraine woke me up at 3:30), but it apparently didn't go through.

    First, thanks for sharing the videos; I shared one of them today with a young lady named April in a 4th grade class that I donated a fleece to. I'm sure they will get quite a kick out of it.

    As I tried to mention this morning, I was distressed to read here that some ladies are unhappy with their fleeces. Neither PJ or I would want anyone to be unhappy with anything they bought from either of us, and I appreciate the courtesy you took, Tami, to call me and let me know. I tried to call PJ last night after talking with you, but she was outside taking care of her livestock.

    I am not able to discuss the flea issue because I don't own alpacas and just don't know enough about that, but I can say that both PJ and I work hard to keep parasites at bay. As I mentioned to Tami last night, sheep are not raised in antiseptic conditions... we have to deal with mud, manure, urine, deaths, brambles, hay in the fleeces, and yes, occasionally parasites.

    As for dandruff, to my knowledge that is not a management issue, but a genetic issue, and while I cull heavily in my flock, this is not something I cull for. If primitive breeds have all the variety bred out of them, then you have another breed like Merino that have no variation and no stamina and that require assistance to lamb or just to stay alive. If you wanted that, you would not have come to my farm! : ) Anyway, I have spun fleeces with dandruff and whatever didn't come out in the combing process did come out during the spinning process.

    If you are only accustomed to seeing sheep or fleeces at shows, it is more than likely that the sheep/fleeces with dandruff, matting, dags, or lots of vm were left at home to be processed by the shepherd, who, as we all like to do, put their best foot forward. So if you are only accustomed to seeing "best feet", I recommend visiting more farms to see the rest of the "feet!" ; )

    Having said that, I'm with Sharon and would likely click the "buy now" for nice clean roving should I ever decide to spin again. In the meantime, I'm trying to get as many quilts finished while my arthritic hands hold up!

    Anyway, thanks again for the head's up, Tami, (and all the valuable college scholarship info for my teenager) and I'll keep you posted about the upcoming Cascade fleeces.

    Ronda @ Greener Pastures Farm