Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Drum Carding Suri Alpaca

I have been asked how I process the suri alpaca. WASHING THE FIBER FIRST I've been asked how I wash suri alpaca as well as how I card or spin it. Well for me I use plastic tubs that fit in my kitchen sink. I fill with Unicorn scour and hot water. Place approx. 1 to 1.5 lbs of locks in the tub, just pressing down to saturate. Set the tub aside and come back hours later or even next day to rinse. I then can rinse with cold water saving on my utility bills. So I fill another tub with tap water using cold water as that is the same temp now as the washing tub water. I squeeze out water from the soaked fiber and place in the rinse water. I then pull the locks apart with my hands and move around in the water gently. Fill another tub with cool water, squeeze out the fiber and place in clean water, repeating the pulling the locks apart. I repeat this rinse for 3-5 times until water is clear then I place fiber in sweater mesh bags, take to my washing machine and spin out only (no water comes into machine). Lay out to dry on sweater racks or skirting table. CLASS I TAUGHT I just taught a class in which I used my strauch finest drum carder and an ashford fine carder. The strauch wins for producing a fine silky batt. The ashford did a great job of opening locks and carding but the batts come out very fluffy looking, not as smooth as the strauch. More fiber stuck to the licker in drum with the ashford. I have found this is the case with all carders that I have used that have teeth and not pins on the licker in drum. The reason I don't have this with the strauch is the pins on the licker in. It helps to keep from fuzzing suri. One way to avoid this happening is to hold your locks over the large drum and let it take it gently from your fingers and avoid the licker in completely. Here is a picture of the fiber being carded as I hold a dog slicker brush with soft teeth to help push in fiber on the large drum as you would use a burnishing tool. I hope this helps those that struggle on how to process suri alpaca. While it is a bit time consuming opening locks by hand and carding suri it can give you an awesome finished yarn for that special project you have in mind.

 Now a wonderful man who made Dunkin Carders suggested one more thing to do to my Strauch carder that would make carding even easier and better. It was to take a piece of plastic flexible cutting board and cut it to fit my intake tray on the carder. Just enough that it fits just under the licker in. Strauch finest carder has a large dip under that licker in and the locks would not get opened up as they were heavy and just fell under the licker in drum. Using the flexible cutting board material, the fiber is held closer to the licker in. Card very slowly and open locks best you can with finger first then lay on the tray and it does a very nice job.