Spinning an Art Yarn with Alpaca Fleece


There’s so much to love about alpaca fiber: silky, fine and lustrous; similar to sheep’s wool but warmer and not prickly; and without lanolin — which makes it hypoallergenic. Alpaca fibers are not hollow, but most alpaca fibers have a core of trapped air, which makes alpaca a very light-weight and warm fiber. I was given the gift of a local alpaca fleece (that’s the fiber from shearing, a hair cut…). This buff-toned fleece is from a young alpaca, and it’s so shiny and soft with a subtle crimp that adds texture and enhances the luster. To use the alpaca, I applied fiber in small amounts directly to the large drum of my Louet carder, combining it with alpaca tops, silk, camel, merino, an oatmeal-toned cashmere, Finn wool, recycled sari silk threads, and some dyed Cotswold locks…in shades of peach, coral, carnelian, burgundy, brown, white, saffron, plum:


I’ve been reading a wonderful book, “The Gift,” written by Lewis Hyde and first published in 1979. The subtitle is “Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World” and the back cover describes it as “a brilliant defense of the value of creativity and its importance in a culture increasingly governed by money and overrun with commodities.” This good read was recommended by fellow artist friend Beth Aten. One of the ideas of the book is that creativity is a kind of gift that should flow along to others. Since the alpaca fleece was a gift to me, I’d like to pass along some aspect of the gift to others; this thought really energizes my studio work.

For about ten years, our family has donated to The Heifer Project, an organization that helps poor people around the world by giving them animals to raise, and by teaching them how to feed and care for the animals. One of the Heifer gifts is called “Knitter’s Basket.” For $480, the donor can give a poor family a llama, alpaca, sheep and angora rabbit; and most importantly, give instruction and support about proper feeding and care for the animals. Heifer has been working in an area of Peru to refine the local alpaca breed to produce healthy animals with high-quality fiber, and to help bring products made from alpaca fiber to market. I love this idea, of raising animals for their fiber, and raising them with care; and helping communities be self-sufficient. I’ll be donating a portion of any profits from the sale of work incorporating my “gifted” alpaca fleece towards the purchase a Heifer Project “Knitter’s Basket.”

To begin, I’m spinning a thick and thin, fluffy single from this first carded batt made in part from alpaca fleece. I plan to spin enough yarn to knit a long scarf with an nice, open stitch so the curly locks have room to twirl…


Published in: on February 11, 2014 at 3:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

The URI to TrackBack this entry is: https://woolyblissfeltmaking.wordpress.com/2014/02/11/spinning-an-art-yarn-with-alpaca-fleece/trackback/

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: