Preparing your alpaca fiber for processing
We will try and help you know what fiber is preferable and which is not. The sketch on the right is an alpaca. It has been marked with words to help you know a fleece better. This will help you understand the best parts of a fleece.
The prime clip or blanket area of the alpaca fleece can come off in one piece, other areas are taken off in sections. While the alpaca is being shorn, many alpaca owners will separate the blanket from seconds.
There are times when the neck area is of good quality and sometimes portions of it are similar in quality to the blanket, but usually it should be put in a second-grade bag. But if you find areas of the neck are of the same weight and quality as the blanket, put them in the blanket bag. The middle legs are usually also of good quality, and should go into the second-grade bag. Some people make a "third-grade" or "remainders" bag for fibres of less quality than seconds. While second and 3rd grade fibers aren't a good choice for spinning yarn, they can be used for felting!
- Lay the fleece out on a skirting table like a pelt for examination with the shorn side down and the outside.
- Remove as much vegetable matter as possible separating the locks as you move along the fleece to find hard to spot burrs or other VM.
- Shake the table to allow any second cuts to fall out. Also pick out as much of the 2nd cuts that do not fall out with shaking
- Cria fleeces are the hardest to process and though finer fibers, are generally too hard to remove any VM. These do take more time and expense to process at the mill. The more that you pick out the nicer the finished yarns will be. If we have to do considerable extra work to the cria fleeces there will be extra charges incurred.
- Make sure when you bag your fleeces that you mark clearly on them, your name and contact info. That way they are easily accounted for at the mill and not mistaken for someone elses fiber.