Susan, a fellow knitter and spinner, and I went to Alpaca Bella Suri Farm in Morrow, OH and took a class with Maegan of Little Patch Alpacas. There were three others there for the day. Maegan and her husband tend a herd of about 70 Suri and Huacaya Alpacas - some belonging to them and some to the farm owner. Then, they have visitors from time to time being boarded or there to be bred. Maegan does the shearing and uses the fiber any way she can.
Today, she led us in a seminar from skirting the shorn alpaca blanket to what to do with the fiber.
We each received a goodie bag with a bag of natural color alpaca, a bag of dyed alpaca, and then a bag of specialty things. My goodie bag had gorgeous tan and cream natural fiber, yellow / orange dyed fiber, yellow silk noil, purple/mauve wool, a little firestar for sparkle, and recycled plastic soda bottles. Yes, you read that right. The recycled plastic bottles was pure white and very soft.
First, we went outside to Maegan's back porch where she had set up skirting tables. She made these - wooden frames with plastic chickenwire-like "fabric" stretched and stapled in place. She had two large ones perched on chairs. They would make great fiber / yarn / sweater drying racks, too. We spread two alpaca blankets out and looked for vegetable matter and second cuts - pulling these out as we admired how incredibly soft the fiber was. Sorting through the fiber on this open table also allows a lot of dust to fall through.
Maegan explained and demonstrated the equipment she uses to process her fiber. She has a Box Picker and a Big Tom Motorized Drum Carder - both Fancy Kitty products. She also demonstrated using the hackles she made from sturdy hair combs. For a diz, she used the pop top off of her soda can from lunch. Very ingenious!
We could process our goodie bag fiber however we chose - do some or all of it - pick it, card it, whatever. I chose to put my natural and dyed alpaca through the picker and then card everything into one batt. The yellow-orange dyed fiber dulled down when mixed with the tan and cream alpaca and purple/mauve wool. I love my batt (1.3 ounces) and can hardly wait to spin it up!
During our discussion, Maegan talked about how she washes and dyes her fiber. Very interesting to learn her process.
We also went out to the field to meet the animals. There were chickens, Oreo, the cat, and lots of alpacas. Their natural colors were so pretty. Some were solid, some were spotted, some were two-tone. These two posed for my camera. They were very curious about us and then went on about their business. Here is a cute picture of Maegan's son, Brock, holding one of the chickens.
It was great meeting Bernie, Julie, and Mary today. After today, I'm even more anxious to get the studio finished so I can unpack all my dye paraphernalia, drum carder, etc. etc. I want to do SO much! Just need more time...........