This weekend I spun Alpaca:
2 ply sport weight 300 yards 3.8 oz from a fleece I picked up last year in PA.
I tried many different processing techniques to see what worked best. This is a whole fleece with some guard hairs (alpaca doesn't have too many but there are some in there) and seconds, (the shorter bits of fluff from the second shearing.) The fleece itself isn't dirty so much as it is dusty so I prefer to bathe my alpaca in a modified fleece cleaning style. Usually just a couple of cold water rinses and soaks to remove the dirt and dust. Then I water my plants with the gunky water, which sounds gross but plants love love love it. Every time I wash a fleece I take the cold water soak (make sure there's no soap) and I water the terrace and indoor plants. After the cold water rinses I give the alpaca one good hot soak with just a touch of soap and then another warm water soak to rinse it out.
Alpaca tends to get static build up and when you run it though the drum carder or use your hand combs you can see the electricity make the fibers fluff out and stand on end. To combat this I usually give it a spritz of water/conditioner solution 5 parts water 1 part conditioner to tame the static and prevent crazy fly aways. But this alpaca didn't blend very well on my drum carder (I think the Louet fine cloth is more like a medium cloth on other carders and alpaca needs a fine cloth for the best processing.) So with the drum carder out of the question I started combing. The combed alpaca looked lovely and spun thin and smooth but I wanted a fuzzier yarn and it wasn't really happeneing. Plus I was feeling lazy and all that combing to get like 1/2 an once of roving was starting to grate my nerves.
Then I did something unexpected. I rushed to the closet where the stash monster lives and dug around my smaller monster (the tool monster) and found my hand cards. Hand cards? Yes, hand cards, those things I almost threw away when the drum carder arrived on my door step. Hand carding isn't as easy as drum carding but the rolags I made were just the thing I was looking for. No static issues or fly away problems with hand carding and if you really concentrate on just having the card teeth barely touch it's not so hard on your arm and back muscles. I carded a few ounces worth of rolags and spun two thin singles using the long draw method. The end result is a fuzzy, soft yummy yarn that I was proud to send to a fellow ravelry user in a swap.
I also spun another batch of alpaca, but this is from a batt I received in a carftster swap, it's a wool/alpaca/angelina blend. It's a single dk/sport weight about 100 yards from 2oz
The interesting thing about this yarn is that it's spindle spun. I've been spinning on my spindle more and more because I've been traveling. When I first got my first wheel I took it everywhere, but these days I simply pack a batt and a spindle in my bag and I find that it's much easier to carry my luggage. I wasn't the biggest fan of using spindles (as soon as I could afford a wheel I abandoned my student spindle) but I find that I almost have a more intimate relationship with fiber when spindling it. There is less control and the fiber really tells you what it wants to do when you spindle, when I spin with a wheel I have ratios, and tension and all sorts of options to whip that fiber into submission, but spindling is basic and organic.
Believe my I won't be getting rid of my wheel anytime soon but I think it's a nice change up.
I also carded batts:
3oz wool/mohair/angelina "Paper Boy"
You can find these on the etsy