3 years after I started spinning alpaca fibre for my very first alpaca blanket (Fert & Palladin Throw Blanket) that was finally woven in 2016, I am back for more punishment (?) to spin and weave a new one.
Why you ask when I already have this gorgeous one? Well, because after its first season at the cottage, I needed to wash it to put it away for the impending close of the cottage and it partially felted in my dumb washing machine. Have I ever mentioned how much I dislike my washing machine? Its mainly because I didn’t get to choose which one I wanted, this one came with the purchase of our condo down south. Now most women prefer to select a washing machine that will be best suited to her needs, but this one is far from it for me. Unfortunately it will have to do until it keels over, and it most likely will not just to spite me.
So I soaked the blanket in the bathtub with some Synthrapol (textile detergent) and then popped the blanket in the washing machine and selected the “spin” cycle to get the water out, but, said dumb machine stops and starts its spinning every 15 seconds and with all the flopping around the blanket started to felt.
So, last year I picked up a whole bunch of alpaca from a nearby ranch (where I picked up the cria fleece from Fuerig, remember the black shawl I made last year?) and have started spinning for a new blanket. I have 3 skeins done so far. This is a 3-ply, worsted weight (about 9 wpi) and with being a 3-ply, will take me considerable time to spin enough for the new project. I started spinning the white alpaca fibre and after the 3 skeins were plyed, decided to dye them.
The 2 outer skeins were dyed using dyestock derived from avocado skins that had been fermented in a 50/50 ammonia/water solution for 4 months. Since I used natural materials for these 2 skeins, it is a slightly lengthier process to prepare the fibres for dyeing than using commercial acid dyes, but the results are worth the effort. The end colour is a soft beige, which is hard to tell in the photo, but trust me, they are not the bright white they were before dyeing. I just love when my minds eye is rewarded with what it sees.
The reddish skein was kettle dyed using commercial acid dyes in a rust-brown colour with a splash of bright red. Kettle dyeing gives the classic appearance of a tonal yarn. Again, pretty darn close to what I was going for. Since I only have white and brown alpaca, I wanted to dye some of the skeins to increase the colour palette for the blanket. So far so good!
I just need to finish up with the overabundance of garden produce and canning activities this month so I can get back to carding and spinning…hopefully by Spring I will have enough yarn to be put on the loom!