I’ve been thinking about learning to spin for a while but have done nothing about it.  With six alpacas, I have a reason for learning.  A local lady offered to teach me but then I discovered the Handweavers & Spinners Guild of Victoria.  They offer spinning classes which which include preparing the fleece, dyeing, and spinning.  You can borrow a spinning wheel and try out different types to find what suits you.  I’ve tried a few and have my eye on one with a double treadle (not the wheel pictured which has a single treadle).  At first I thought I wouldn’t like a double treadle but I did really like it.

We started spinning with sheep’s fleece as this is the easiest fleece to start spinning with.  To spin, the wheel has to turn clockwise.  Naturally, the wheel always wanted to turn anti clockwise even though I’d been told that I was in charge of the wheel.  After some effort, I did manage to get the wheel to spin clockwise and produced chunky yarn.  I quite like the texture of chunky yarn. Once two bobbins have been filled with fleece, you then have to respin them to join the two fleeces together.  When doing this, the wheel has to spin anti clockwise.  Of course when I want the wheel to spin anti clockwise, it turns clockwise! Eventually, I had a yarn prepared for washing.

With a list of instructions, I washed the yarn at home in very hot water.  The yarn pictured on the far left is unwashed.  After washing, it comes out a rich cream colour.  The washing also shrinks the yarn.

I was also given a little bit of alpaca fleece to try.  It is a bit harder to spin than sheep fleece.  When knitting alpaca wool, if you want the wool to hold its shape then you need to mix it with other yarns.  Alpaca fleece also doesn’t shrink like wool.  Therefore, if you are going to mix alpaca with wool, you need to prewash and preshrink your wool and then you can mix them.  I’ll have to do some experimenting.


Some of my alpacas

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