Fiber Arts & Furry Critters

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Yesterday I had to pick the kids up early from school; they both had dentist appointments. When they were done, we used the rest of the day for a field trip. We went to a sort-of-local alpaca farm, Parker River Alpacas in Byfield, MA. Dave Sanderson was a terrific host! We got to see an alpaca (in fact, this alpaca, pictured as a baby) being sheared; I learned lots about alpaca coats and genetic inheritance, and some about general care; and we got to see a two-day-old cria! Unbelievably cute! We also met Mr. Sanderson's two labs, who were more than happy to play frisbee with DD.

Of course, I came home with some fiber. I've been looking for some suri alpaca fiber since the NH Sheep & Wool festival. It seems to be fairly difficult to find, and until this point I'd only seen white, but Mr. Sanderson has some colored suris! I got some fleece from Cheyenne, which Dave described as an "Irish setter red", and a slightly browner red (with lots of taupe patches, extraordinary!) from a suri named Gus. Both of these have really long (I'm guessing 7 to 9 inch) staple lengths; could be longer, I haven't measured.

As many people know, alpacas and other camelids love to take dust baths. The raw fiber needs washing, and tends to have a bunch of small bits and chaff in it. Because they have no lanolin in their fleece, however, this stuff picks out quite easily by hand. I've spun processed suri before but this will be my first experience with raw suri. I know I don't need as much soap, or water as hot as when I wash fleece, because of the lack of lanolin. I may try to wash some of this stuff today. I envision these fleeces spun up as laceweight, and made into shawls. The suri fiber has a silk-like feel and sheen to it, and I think it will be fabulous in a shawl!


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