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The long cold months of winter are spent on the farm preparing alpaca fleece to go to the mills for processing. We sent off our 2022 batch this week - feeling a sense of accomplishment and relief!
It can be an arduous task, but also fulfilling for those of us who love “getting our hands dirty”. It’s an annual “must-do” if we are to have enough yarn to make available in our SHED shop - or use to create our hand-knit collections.
When the alpaca are shorn in the spring months, the fleece is graded according to quality and stored in bags ready to sort, clean and organise later in the year. Sheering took place last year on the first weekend of June 2021. Along with our sheerer, a small team collected, bagged, tagged and stored the fleece, ready for us to work on this past winter.
With just over 150lbs of fleece of outstanding quality, it was sorted into colours and minimum 5lb lots (5 lbs being the minimum amount a mill will process alpaca fibre into yarn). Because we never dye our fleece, getting that minimum per colour is critical to achieve the range of yarn and finished product we plan in any given season.
It’s “in-the-bag” for 2022 as all of our fleece has now started to be processed at various mills - in an assortment of natural colours, weights and blends. Our very best fleece (the “blanket” is made into 100% alpaca yarn while 2nd’s are used for blending - usually with merino, but sometimes silk, bamboo or other fibres. Any fibre not meeting these 2 “grades” goes into felt production to make slippers, insoles and other felt products.
Our yarn for 2022 will come back to us early May in time for our farm-shop opening mid May. It truly is farm-to-needle with alpaca fleece!