I was recently lucky enough to get a hold of a baby alpaca fleece. I was thrilled to open the bag and see this:
“So clean”, I thought, “almost no preparation required!”
Then I pulled it out, un-rolled the fleece and found this:
Vegetable matter, mud and some stuff I just didn’t want to think about…but then all babies make a mess, baby alpacas are no different! This is easily resolved, however, when you notice that the engrained muck is all at the ends of the locks.
Simply take a pair of scissors and cut the dirty tips off the locks. You should only lose a centimetre or so, and this doesn’t affect its ability to be spun.
The big twigs, leaf litter and such that are caught in the fleece just pull out by hand. Be pretty thorough with this. Small bits of leaf and dust will just fall out when you are drafting, but bigger ones can ruin the look of your yarn if they end up in your final product and ruin your finger if you accidentally spin a splinter into yourself, learn from my mistake there!
Now you’re ready to go! No washing required, alpaca doesn’t have the grease that sheep’s wool does. Also, the softness makes it felt too easily, so just wash the finished yarn.
This process takes a while, it took me 45 minutes to process about 150g of raw fleece. However, the fibre is soft and wonderful, but grippy enough when spun from the fleece that even a beginner like me can manage it.