In may I was lucky enough to visit Ranch of the Oaks with my friend Sara and her parents. It was such a treat! We met alpacas, sheep, guinea hens, a pack of doofy dogs, and got a tour of the fiber mill. Turns out Ranch of the Oaks gets a lot of raw fiber from Eugene, OR! The owners Mette and Tom were so warm, and made alpaca ranching look like a piece of cake.
After meeting all the ‘pacas and feeding them carrots, it was really neat to get a bag of fiber with the name of the fleece ‘donor’ on each bag. I was so excited to spin the fiber, but didn’t have my spindle with me, so Tom gave me a DIY spindle made out of two CDs and a dowel. (Worked great!)
I found the alpaca fiber just a bit harder to spin than wool. I think that’s because I’m a beginner, and because in a fit of frugality I got a bag of fiber odds and ends. It’s all soft and lovely but some is sliver, some pencil roving, and some silky grey tufts of fiber that slip apart if they don’t get enough twist. It was a bit tricky to get a drafting rhythm going with all the different fiber densities.
I divided the bag of fiber in half: one half grey and black fluff, one half all black fluff. When I plied it together, I got a nifty barber pole effect.
And there is 260 yards of handspun alpaca! Wahoo!
Now, what to knit with it?