I woke up this morning, fully expecting to start on knitted vegetables. It was during my morning coffee wake-up spinning that I realized I hadn't purchased any stuffing yesterday. Plan scrapped. Wednesday is the day Mim and I try to get together, and this time she was coming to my house. Good thing, because I was out of eggs (she's my egg lady) and it was snowing.
She is a fleece judge for AOBA (Alpaca Breeders and Owners Association) and every year she has asked if I'd like to participate and every year I have said no. I said no last week, and then decided it might be a good way to learn about spinning alpaca, so I called her back and said yes.
She brought my samples today and promised to go through the first couple with me. The rules are well defined and the scoring criteria is clear. This is the first sample. I love the color and the crimp. The locks are unwashed but since alpaca is not a high lanolin fleece, the issues are dirt and VM, i.e, vegetative matter - straw and twigs, and worse. The fleeces are marked down for guard hair so I had to deduct a point on this one. I wouldn't have noticed the guard hair, were I looking these gorgeous locks in a sale situation, but the spun skein, after washing and fulling, is as hairy as though I had blended it with mohair. I would not want this fleece.
The second fleece we evaluated had to be disqual-
ified. A minimun 3" staple length is required and no matter now many locks we pulled and fluffed, we couldn't meet that. It was a years growth too - how disappointing for the grower. This the third fleece as I charge the carder.
The color was awesome and it just felt good - already I'm starting to get the hang of it. The lock structure is wretched. I loved this sample at first sight and more when I laid hands on it. What's wrong? The staple lengths are wonky throughout, as though they had picked through the fleece - a little of this, and a little of that. La, la, la, la, la.
The uneven lengths made for an uneven prepar-
ation and an uneven yarn. Perhaps mill carding would take care of that, but I was frustrated to present a lumpy product. The yarn in spite of it's flaws feels awesome, and I could be tempted to buy the fleece, if I knew I were going to pay to have it prepared. What a difference these little things make. I have learned so much in three fleece samples and look forward to what I'll learn with the rest. How different this day turned out from when I laid in bed this morning and planned it.
4 hours ago