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Heart & Soul Alpacas and Spinnery

Full Service Alpaca Business... It's all we do!

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Fleece Prep

QUESTIONS? CALL US 530 305-2159

How do we prepare fleece for processing?

That is the number one question we are asked. The answer…the more effort you put into getting rid of the garbage the better your product will be in the end. Ideally, preparation begins in the pasture. Immediately before you shear, use a flicker or a blower to remove as much vegetable matter as possible. Shear your animal on a clean surface. Place the prime blanket and second cuts (shorn from different areas on the animal) in separate clear bags and label accordingly. Skirt the fleece.

 

Skirting is easy:

Lay your fleece on a skirting table. (See how to make a skirting table below) First remove obvious vegetation and poop, and any areas of concentrated debris know as “bird’s nests.” Then go around the edge and remove any clumps of guard hair that look different - longer, straighter, coarser, etc. Also fluff your fleece so that the short cuts fall through the screen. You are looking to pull out the inconsistent fibers in your fleece. This will result in the best end product. More is not always better.

Assess the strength of your fiber. You can do this by taking a small lock and pinching the ends between the thumb and forefinger of each hand. Now, snap your hands apart. If the fiber breaks it is too weak to process by itself. A strong fiber should snap back and not break during this test. Fleeces that are weak, or “tender” are prone to tear during processing, resulting in a less consistent yarn with variable texture, less durability over time and more of a handspun look and feel. 

Ultimately, fleeces that have the most uniform strength, length, and grade produce the most homogenous and consistent yarns. 

If skirting for Rug (core) yarn or batts we are less concerned with length of the fibers. Please call us if you have questions.

If you just cannot skirt your fleeces we can do it for you but there is an additional charge of $7.00 per lb. Don’t let that keep you from getting those fleeces made into usable, marketable, salable product.


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Skirting Table

You can look up many ways to make a skirting table by googling it but it is really very simple. You need some sort of a mesh (chicken wire or smaller, but not too small, which allows short cuts and debris to fall through) a frame (it can be wood, PVC or whatever) and legs (a saw horse or PVC will work). Additionally your table should be large enough to lay your entire fleece out but not so large as you cannot reach the middle of it.

Updated June 10, 2020