Total Pageviews

Thursday, 31 August 2017

How Much Waste Does an Alpaca Produce?

No, I don't mean from the back end, I mean from its fleece.

Cadbury's Cria Fleece
I was recently preparing some cria alpaca by picking through the locks, separating them at the same time.  I put the waste on one side while I picked and teased.  This fleece is in pretty good order and really doesn't need carding, so I was just splaying out the cut end of each lock to spin from.  There was surprisingly little vegetable matter so it was quite an easy job.  After a while I noticed the waste pile was getting quite large - mainly second cuts and a bit of vm - so I decided to monitor it.

After spinning the locks and filling a bobbin, I plied it back on itself and, before washing, weighed it and the waste pile.  The whole lot came to 135g, with the yarn weighing 110g and the waste 25g.

Yarn and Waste
I was surprised there was only 25g of waste as it looked a lot more.  Anyway, I washed the yarn, dried it and then weighed it again - 95g.  That means that there was 15g of dust in this ball of alpaca.  I can't even imagine what that would look like.

Now nice and clean and ready for knitting.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Three Colours from Woad

I harvested the rest of my woad plants last week, plus the plants I'd harvested last time had grown again, so I ended up with 880g of leaves.  I had two skeins of hand-spun Cotswold ready to dye, so into the pot they went.  Not quite as deep blue as last time, but I probably had more yarn in there this time.

There still seemed to be some colour in the dye pot after removing these, so I threw in some of the kid mohair I bought a few weeks ago.

Baby blue kid mohair

This is still wet here, but I was really pleased with the baby blue that came out.  It dried quite a bit lighter, and all the pale patches above had turned a very subtle light pink.

This was really difficult to photograph - it's actually not as pale as it shows here.  I think I'll probably separate the two colours when I come to spin it.

After making up the dye bath, I strained out the used leaves and squeezed out as much blue dye as I could, then put them into a pan and covered them with water.  I simmered them for maybe an hour and then put in some more Cotswold locks which had been mordanted with alum and cream of tartar. Another simmer should have produced woad pink, and normally that's what I would get, but this time for some reason I got a very pale yellow.  I modified this (to make it a deeper shade) in a large bowl of ammonia water and let it sit for a while.

It's not a bad colour, but I would have preferred woad pink!

Anyway, three different colours from one woad bath isn't bad (I'm including the pale pink mohair here, in the absence of true woad pink) - blue, pink and yellow.

Meanwhile, the woad plants are growing like crazy and in a few weeks I think I should be able to harvest another batch.  I may put the yellow fleece into the dye hoping to get a green.  Normally one would dye with woad and overdye with weld or some other yellow dye to make green, but I like the idea of being able to produce it solely with woad.  In fact, maybe I'll just put half of the fleece in the dye, then I'll truly be able to say I got four colours - blue, pink, yellow and green!  Watch this space!!