Saturday, April 7, 2012

Idaho - Alpaca Spinnery

 On Friday, before we came home on Saturday, Dena and I visited the alpaca spinnery and delivered our fiber to be made into yarn.

 This is the first step in the process.  The fiber is tumbled in this cage to separate it from some of the hay and vegetation and dirt that gets in it.  Alpaca love nothing more than rolling in the dirt and hay and whatever.  This also separates the short hair from the long.

Next step is washing - washing happens twice, once after tumbling and then again later after the first combing/carding.

These are the drying racks - there are two sets, one for the first drying and one for the second.

This machine separates even more of the vegetation and dirt from the fiber. The fiber goes through a series of rollers with teeth (like drum carders in ever decreasing teeth sizes) and the bad stuff is dumped out the side.

This is where the fiber is fed into the drums.

And this is what it looks like when it comes out.  

It looks like a cloud - you could spin this if you wanted to.

 After a second washing the fiber is sent through this giant drum carder and turned into a type of roving.

 See those teeth?  The bottom drum and the green drum also have teeth but much shorter.

This is what comes out - sort of pencil roving.

 Then three pieces of that roving are combined and stretched into one even roving.

 See?  Three in on the left . . . .

 and one out on the right.

 Then it goes to the spinner.  This machine is spinning many pieces of roving into many spools of thread - one ply and very fine.

 Then this machine takes the singles (on top) and plies them into yarn (on the bottom).


 Two or three ply yarn.

 Their own home made swifts - kind of a cool idea that I might just have to copy.

This machine winds the yarn onto cones and measures it as it goes.  They can have it wind a cone with 100 yards or 10,000 yards.  

 And then there is the dying.

See all this yarn and fiber (see those lovely batts?)?

They use this machine to wind it into hanks - three at a time.

Lots of yarn.

 This is the dying table.

Lots of dyes and lots of room.

 These are the pots where they simmer the dyed yarn.

 And they use this baby to spin the moisture out of the yarn - so cool!

Another drying rack, this one is so colorful!

 And the dyed and ready to go yarn.  So many colors, so little time!

Gorgeous, gorgeous colors on wonderfully soft 100% alpaca yarn.  I have to say I was in heaven.

No, I didn't come home empty handed - see the pile in front of the baskets, that is a portion of what came home with me.  Lovely, lovely alpaca yarn.



Bree at "Bree's Way" said...

I am sooooo envious of your experience and purchase!!!!!!

thora said...


Lace-lovin' Librarian ~ Diane said...

So tempting! If I ever visit Idaho...

Jane McLellan said...

Fascinating! Last year my daughter sent me an alpaca fleece which I carded on a drum carder and hand spun. Interesting to see the same process here, but so mechanised.