Spartickes Dyes: Today's Alpaca Adventure was in Fiber Form!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Today's Alpaca Adventure was in Fiber Form!

I finished the order of yarn and promptly moved on to the three bags of fiber that I had from the mill.  I forgot to take a picture before I opened the bags, but here there are empty!

I put warm water and a cleaning solution into the big cambro then put the dry alpaca fiber into it for a nice bath.  Each cambro will hold about 5-6 pounds, so if I have a big order of one color, I have to split it up.  I took this picture halfway through one of the bags, so there is about 1.2 pounds in this picture. 

I then mix the dye solution and add the alpaca fiber!  Each one of my pots will dye a little over half a pound at a time.  The tricky part is making sure I put an even amount in each one because if there is too much fiber, it turns out lighter than the rest of the batch, or if there is too little, it is too dark.  Another concern is making sure I stir it so all of the surfaces are covered.  I can't stir it too much, though, because alpaca likes to felt!

Next, I put the fiber in the pot, turn up the heat, and put on the lid.  The lid is important because the steam helps set the color into the fiber.  I try to exhaust the dye solution (making it clear when I take it out), but sometimes I don't have time to wait for it if I'm dyeing a lot.  Or, sometimes the dye solution is just plain stubborn (BLUE!!!!).

This was a small order-there were three bags of fiber, two of them were 2.4 pounds and one was 2.2 pounds.  The usual turn around time is 2 weeks.  I received this shipment last Saturday, so it has already been 8 days.  Lucky, I finished almost all of the fiber today. 

I enjoy dyeing yarn a lot more than I do fiber.  I don't have very much experience dyeing any fiber other than alpaca, but alpaca sticks to my hands something fierce!  I don't enjoy wearing gloves (although I'm going to invest in some kitchen type gloves and see if I like those more), so my hands inevitably get stained when I dye fiber.  I usually use a squirt bottle to apply dye when I transform yarn, but when I take on fiber, I submerge it in a dye bath, and I always feel like I need to swish it around with my hands even though I have tongs dedicated to such purpose!  Also, when doing batches larger than this, I have to handle so much at a time, that it is hard to keep it off my clothes.  My husband has a beard, and even though he does not help in the dyeing process, he finds patches of alpaca fiber in his beard from time to time!  It literally takes over the house!  Don't get me wrong-I still love it!  I just love yarn more!

Since it is well past dark, I will take a picture of the rest of the yarn and the fiber drying in my backyard for y'all tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. you are brave to do this. I be scared to mess up