Monday, September 26, 2011

National Alpaca Farm Days

National Alpaca Farm Days this year was September 24th and 25th. I did a spinning demonstration at a nearby alpaca farm two years ago but missed last year, so I was excited that they asked me back this year. Spinning alpaca among the alpacas for 6 hours, what could be better?

Charlie joined me and we spent Sunday out at Ah...Sweet Alpacas, an alpaca farm between Vacaville and Winters. As always, the alpacas were cute.

Joan and Bruce were very welcoming and there were two girls who've been helping out with the alpacas and were eager to share their knowledge with visitors. Here's a photo of Charlie talking with Joan over the fiber boy pen. Now is a great time to get alpacas. These sweet fellows are for sale for $500 for two (you need at least two!) and less if you get more.

Amazingly (for september), it started to sprinkle on the way over, and it was overcast and sprinkling for much of the day. Fewer people came Sunday than Saturday, but we had a steady trickle of visitors. Luckily there was still time to visit with the alpacas. This is Cayenne, the matriarch of the girls.
Here is Sabrina. Bruce says she's the sweetest! Here's Rosie posing for the camera:
Joan gave me Rosie's seconds to spin. One of the great things about alpacas is their range of natural colors, 16 distinct shades. Rosie has a beautiful variegated rose-grey fleece (sheared last spring).
And here's the yarn I'm spinning.A photographer for Fairfield's paper, the Daily Republic, took a photo of me spinning, wearing one of my felted shawls...this one is silk and alpaca, naturally.
Alpaca is one of my favorite fibers to spin because it can be wonderfully soft and you can often spin it raw without further preparation after shearing. Unlike sheep wool, alpaca doesn't have lanolin, so as long as you don't mind the dust, you can spin it without washing it. (You can spin raw sheep wool, but depending on the amount of lanolin and how warm it is, it can be much more difficult to draft than washed wool, and the lanolin gets all over your hands and wheel). I started out demonstrating how to spin from the "cloud"--just fluffing up a bunch of alpaca and spinning. I also showed how to comb the alpaca using my mini combs, then spin from roving. Got a lot of spinning done, got in a few plugs for the Craft Center ("learn to spin at the CC!") and even got one lady excited about raising silkworms. Good day.

The sun finally came out towards the end of the day. And I saw firsthand why some of the alpaca I spin is so darn dusty.

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