"United we bargain, divided we beg."

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Nine Bags Full

A couple of weeks ago, a neighbor of mine who attends the same church as we do made an offer: she knew somebody who raised alpacas but who wasn't interested in the fleece (why would you raise alpacas if you didn't care about fleece? Makes no sense) and who had been storing her unwanted fiber for years in her barn. The woman was threatening to make a bonfire of it, but my neighbor intervened and said she would come and pick it up.

She knew that Rowan was a fiber fanatic, so she offered us all the fleece in exchange for lessons on processing and spinning it, and a hunk of fleece to work with. Are you kidding? we asked, incredulous. Bring it on!

Well, today, she brought it on. She brought a pick-up truck full of hefty-trash bags full of fiber. She told us that in fact the pick-up load represented only a fourth or so of the fiber the woman had, but that she felt a little overwhelmed and decided enough was enough. I couldn't agree more.

nine bags full

There was black fiber, brown fiber, white fiber - there was high quality firsts and low quality seconds. There was enough fiber to clothe the Russian army (to paraphrase my mom). I'm going to guesstimate that there is something like forty or fifty pounds of raw alpaca fleece piled up in my shed.

pretty nice white fleece

Plus, she said that if we want, her brother-in-law, a shearer, has access to basically unlimited quantities of fresh alpaca fleece. Apparently, there are many people around who own alpacas but are not interested in fiber. I know - beats me, too. So, suffice to say, we have access to enough alpaca to keep us occupied until basically the end of time.

Now we are planning a fleece-processing party - a nice sunny day, a trio of kiddie pools, some chicken wire stapled to sawhorses, an industrial sized bottle of Dawn dishwashing liquid, and a case of beer. Maybe chips and salsa. Music. Make a party out of the hard, backbreaking work of processing fleece.

Many hands make light the work, and all. I love neighbors. I love it.


Dea-chan said...

Wow! I wish I was in your neighborhood, I'd totally drop by!

The closest I've gotten to that kind of thing is having friends over for tea and we all knit/crochet.

But an amazing find!

AnyEdge said...

Alpacas apparantly make very good guard animals for other livestock, and great pack animals. But I can't see the need for that in Bellingham. I mean, there aren't a lot of wolves and bears, and very little need to pack them up and herd them over the mountains.

But in South America, llamas and alpacas will protect cattle and goats from predators, naturally. It's cool. They circle and fight back-to-back like Guardian Angels.

Gail V said...

Yummy fleece. Lucky you! I haven't spun it, yet, but I know it feels nice. I've heard that some mills require blending it with sheep's wool to make it handle-able-- too light? I don't know.
Best wishes on processing day.

polly's path said...

keep us posted! Sounds like a fabulous discovery and a fun project ahead!

Anonymous said...

Fun project...hell, it sounds like a BUSINESS opportunity! That stuff goes for $15-20/lb on eBay.

Nekkid Chicken said...

aaaaaaaaaah you are so lucky! I have always wanted to learn that skill.

Perhaps you can set up a YOUTUBE video on how to process. Plus set up a priority flat box for we newbies who want to learn.

Way to go!

Sherri said...

Couldn't you use it for insulation on a small building or something? I would think if it was packed tightly into a space it would provide some wonderful free insulation. I hear they do that with sheep wool when they have too much.

And yes, ebay the stuff!!!!

Irene said...

Be careful of raw fleece. I brought raw sheeps wool fleece into my old house and had wool moths for the next twenty years--no kidding. We just couldn't get rid of them and they ruined a huge amount of beautiful woolen things. It wasn't until we built a house and stored our possessions in a container over a very cold winter while we were building that we finally got rid of them.

Irene said...

Be very careful of raw fleece. We brought home some raw sheeps' wool fleeces and had wool moths for the next twenty years. We could not eradicate them and lost of lots of good wool clothes, blankets, etc. We only got rid of them when we put our things in a container over a cold winter while we were building a new house.