Thursday, March 20, 2008

A Day in the life of a house frau and other mitherings.......

Is it a full moon or what? Today I witnessed our neighbours cat Charlie getting mauled by two dogs that weren't under the control of the again the neighbours, as well as the traffic going by, were in for a treat with me running outside with my housecoat on, wet hair, yelling at the owners of the dogs.

Then after that was taken care of (will have to see if Charlie's going to pull through) I discover that somebody had been in my backyard and stole all the pop bottles we've been delinquent in bringing to the depot. There had to have been fifty bucks worth of bottles. Now....before anyone wonders who's doing all the drinking we've got four adults living in the house, and all those bottles add up to a pretty penny. That would've been a nice supper out.

What really ticked me off was the cheeky buggers left a half dozen bottles still laying there .....what's up with that? They even arranged them all sitting up on the woodpile. (Please excuse the mess...we still have snow here, and it's just starting to melt leaving a right muck alongside the garage.)

Talking with the neighbours apparently we've got a couple of young men that have set up a trapline within a six block radius in our neighbourhood. So we'll have to do some locking up of bottles from now on. The thing that bothers me though is they came right into the backyard, and up to the house to take them....they're getting more brave or rather desperate I'm not sure.

Anyway on to a happier note.....I was thrilled to see that Kirsten from Through the Loops has finished her pattern for Dr. G's Memory Vest. I've made the donation and Kirsten sent the pdf of the pattern, and I promptly ordered some yarn (Arctic Pool Heather) for this project from Knitpicks. Kirsten had posted about the death of her father due to vascular dementia last fall, and it hit home with me. My husband's uncle was diagnosed last fall, and I thought this would be the perfect thing to knit for him. I haven't knit anything for him yet, and I think he would just love this it'll be my top priority when the yarn comes in. Please check our Kirsten's blog, and check out the pattern. It's going to a great research facility the Fisher Center for Alzheimer's Research Foundation.

I had promised earlier to post pictures of when I would get that delivery of an alpaca fleece, so here they are.......

Joyce packs up her fibre in clear bags which is nice as then you can see what you're getting, sort of.

So I got ready to do some cleaning, stool for sitting, hamper for the cleaned fleece.....

I laid out the fleece that was graded as #1 and this is the underside, which is closet to the skin. I was going to start cleaning the dirty fleece as I tried to clean after washing a sample piece, and that didn't go so good. So here is a pic of the comb I was using to try to clean out the vegetable matter (vm).

This came recommended by The Spinning Guy

As far as I can tell he works exclusively with alpaca fibre, and he has a great website.

Earlier I had tried washing a small portion of this fleece, and this is more pic's of that......

I used an onion net sack for soaking the fiber and it kept everything well contained. I followed the instructions found at

It was a great help in washing techniques for alpaca (salad spinner worked great), but unfortunately this was a really dirty fleece which required washing, soaking and rinsing four times. I laid the fleece out on this window screen we had........

After some drying time it fluffed right back up. Next to it is a ball of 2-ply handspun I bought from Joyce, the breeder. It's exceptional, absolutely no vm in it, but it was produced from a cleaner clip from the same animal. What a difference the state of each fleece can be.

Unfortunately the vm was really entrenched into the fibre, and after a four hour stint I think I managed to card, and pick through to get a metre of fibre spun up. What a mess, so for right now the plan is I'm going on a road trip to a mill about three hours away from here, and I'll be bringing this fleece to them. This will be the first time visiting a mill and I'm really looking forward to it. I'll remember to bring my camera as I'm sure there'll be lots of pictures to take......

Somebody else sure enjoyed the smells of the farm.......
Anna would love for this to be her bed every night!
Happy Easter everybody!!!


The Spinning Guy (Kim) said...

Thanks for stopping by and leaving a commend on my blog.

As for high VM alpaca fleeces -- some alpacas just love to roll and often the softest fleeces retain the most VM.

When I'm dealing with a lot of VM, I like to lay the fleece out cut ends down and pick as much as possible from the outer end first. Usually, there isn't much VM in by the skin where the cut ends are and it's often easier to work the VM out the way it entered.

If I have to comb VM, I like to come from about the middle of the staple toward the tip. My technique varies, of course, with the fleece and the VM. Generally, I grab a clump and start working from the tip out, working back slightly further with each stroke until the VM is combed out.

Small bits are a royal pain. A surprisingly large quantity of small pieces of VM drop out with my drum carder. (An annoyingly large quantity does not.) I find a lot more drops out during spinning.

When all else fails, there are fleeces that get spun with a pair of tweezers in hand for picking out VM.

Ask your mill about VM. Some VM drops out really well in mills. Other VM just gets thoroughly integrated into the fleece. If your mill has a guard hair separator, you will pay extra, but the separator is very effective against certain VM (and not against all VM).

Enjoy the spinning!

~ P ~ said...

Hi Charlene,
I found your blog from The Spinning Guy. I've really enjoyed reading your blog and looking at your pictures. I'm new at blogging.
I would like to put a link to your blog from my blog if that's okay.

Phyllis said...

Hi Charlene,
You send me some snow and I'll send you some sunshine. I just got back from my morning walk and I'm burning up. It's supposed to be in the 70's today.
How was the trip to the mill? Did they process your fleece?
I had 2-3 pounds of raw llama once and tried to clean and card it myself. I only did a little before I decided that this job is for the professionals. I sent it off and they did a great job. Just need to spin it now.