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Mountain Jewel Farm

Alpaca Clothing, Alpaca Socks, Accessories and Yarn

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Alpaca Fiber Questions

Alpaca Fiber Preparation and more!

 We borrowed this excellent link from Fantasy Fibers:
What should you do with your dry, clean, bagged fleece?  Show it in alpaca fleece shows or spin-offs, sell it raw, process it yourself, send it out to be processed and sell end-products, join and contribute fiber to the Co-op or a combination of all of these.  You don't need to be a hand spinner, a knitter or crocheter, but you should know your product.  I've worked with the fleece from the very beginning of my alpaca farming journey, and found that working with it myself has been the best way to learn how alpaca fiber behaves, whether you are washing, felting, carding, knitting or spinning it.  I've taken classes on breeding for quality fiber, sorting fiber, felting, knitting and spinning.  My advice is to take as many classes as you can!

Know the answer to questions like, "Do you need to mix it with sheep's wool to be able to knit a woolen-type garment that has bounce or holds its shape?" Answer: Huacaya - No! I wear a knitted 100% huacaya sweater or vest when selling fleeces. If you don't spin, send one of your fleeces to a spinner to be spun up into yarn and have it knitted into a garment. This can be a challenge, but it's a wonderful way to convince folks that alpaca does not need to be blended with sheep's wool for the garment to hold its shape.   Alpaca fleece is much easier to process than sheep's wool because it doesn't have the lanolin that sheep's wool does, therefore does not need to be washed/scoured before spinning. 100%  Suri alpaca fleece is not suitable for a woolen-type garment. Tell any hand spinner or knitter to treat it like silk but a silk that comes in many luscious natural colors. Suri is perfect for dressy, drape-y worsted-type knitted, crocheted or woven garments. Suri breeders, wear a flowing, woven shawl or scarf when selling your fleece.  Question: How much of this do I need to make a sweater?  When you are asked how much yarn it takes to make a project, weigh the finished garment and suggest they purchase that weight in yarn. 

Question: Is alpaca allergenic? Answer: No. Ask them to rub the fiber against their cheek and you're done with this question. Other things to mention: Alpaca is 3 x warmer by weight than sheep's wools, more durable and lighter weight. It is flame resistant.  Individual fibers have a lower profile scale than sheep's wool does, therefore there is less "itching" with wear and it has a smoother, softer, silkier feel and appearance as well. The long staple length makes for a smoother, dressier yarn. Alpaca fleece garments will "breathe", retain their warmth when wet and last for many years. Huacaya can make a garment with high loft (lot's of warm, trapped air.) Suri has shine and both take dye wonderfully. Both come in many more natural colors than sheep's wool, silk, mohair, etc. Where to sell? Any sheep and wool festival or fiber arts show is great. Farmers markets work for some. Invite any local spinner's guilds to have a meeting at your farm. You can find a listing of them on the Internet at:

Interweave


I sell fleeces from my website, on my Etsy Shop and Local Harvest Shop. You'll enjoy a greater success in selling your product by diversifying what you sell and where you sell it, ie:  selling both end-product (clothing, rugs, etc), processed product (yarns, rovings, batts) and raw fiber in a variety of settings. There are also fiber co-ops and fiber pools in the US who will accept your alpaca fiber in exchange for low prices on US made alpaca products from pooled fiber such as socks and hats.  Go to Alpaca Fiber Cooperative of North America or New England Alpaca Fiber Pool for more information on co-ops and fiber pools.

So this year, please don't leave your alpaca fleece in the corner of your garage, attic or barn! Show it, sell it, process it, get it out to market so it can make your farm profitable and be enjoyed by your customers!  We use 100% of our alpaca fiber every year for product sales.

Links to reputable fiber processors in the NW we've used with success:

Ingrid's Custom Rugs

Superior Fibers

Fantasy Fibers

 

 

Updated November 10, 2015