Monday, May 11, 2009

Washing Alpaca Fleece

I get so excited with all this freshly shorn fleece around that I just don't know what to do next. It's all weighed, staple length measured, recorded, and compared to last year's shear, so I can play. I don't know if there is a correct way to clean it, I'll just tell you what I do.
I work with about 4 or 5 ounces at a time. Running the hottest tap water that I can, I add a couple squirts of Dawn dishwashing soap, then gently sink the fiber in. I let this soak for about 20 minutes, every once in a while giving it a few pokes. I lift the fiber into a colander and drain out the dirty water. You will be amazed how filthy this is compared to the fairly clean look to the fleece. I repeat this wash, usually 2 washes are enough. Two rinses should finish it up.
I have never had my fleece felt but I think that it's important to know that you can go from cool to hot, but NEVER hot to cold......and as little handling and agitation as possible.

Above is some of Lyra (dark fawn) and Mira's (white) fleece washed up.
After washing and rinsing the fleece, I put it into mesh bags, and using the last spin cycle on my top loading washing machine, I spin it out. This cycle adds no water so my fiber is safe.
It will come out of the bags rather clumpy, so I pull it apart and sort of line up the fibers, and spread it on my counter to dry. By now most of the vegetation has disappeared and I pick out any remaining, along with second cuts that might have been missed.
Mira and Lyra's fleece is drying. Tomorrow I will show you how I'm going to card these two colors together.
Aimee, I would think that you could do the entire fleece in the bathtub, or even your washing machine, if you didn't agitate. I just don't like lugging around that much wet fleece.


Aimee said...

Thank you for the excellent instructions! We are just getting started on ours. I was thinking of doing a whole prime at once in the bathtub. Is there any reason this wouldn't work?

HanamiGallery said...

ooo pretty colors~! cant wait to see how you spin them together. i use dawn as well to clean fleece. hahaha. i think because alpaca lacks the lanolin that sheep have it is much easier to clean.

Perry Wheeler said...

Many thanks for writing your clear instructions. I will have a try. Perry and I have been wanting to have a go at washing a fleece for a while now.


Mulchandmore said...

I use a similar method, but wash in old dishpans so the "dark water" can nourish the garden. Then it goes into mesh bags to dry on the line or wire baskets to drip over the tub. (I'm too chicken to risk spinning mine but maybe this year:)

Alpaca Farmgirl said...

Thanks for sharing this. I was surprised that you used hot water and it didn't felt. That's such a fear of mine. lol. Good to know.

Thanks for participating in Fiber Arts Friday!

Lady Katherine said...

Great job telling how you wash your fiber. I use to do it this way. Then in the washing machine, I do a gently spin, after spin, hold up the fiber add more warm water and gently place fiber down to soak, repeat until fiber is clean. Then I bought on old timer washer and used the roller, and pulled the fiber through. Makes all the water come out, then I have old wooden and wire box 4 feet by 4 feet, I sit outdoors to dry or if winter it goes in the attic. I also use dawn, but the last rinse, I use something different.