The alpaca fleece has been skirted, but we are a few steps away from having alpaca yarn yet. It’s time to wash the fiber to get all of the dust and debris out of it. After all, who wants to wear a dirty sweater?
The alpaca fiber goes into several lingerie bags. The holes in the bag should be large enough for dirt and debris to wash out, but small enough to keep the fiber in the bag. Pack the fiber in loosely so the water can get all around the fiber.
To the Bathtub
Landry tub, bathtub, hot tub, kiddie pool, whatever works. We have an extra bathtub dedicated to fiber washing, so that’s what we use. One of the great things about the alpaca is that its fiber it contains no lanolin. This makes it very easy to clean and does not require harsh detergents like other animals’ fiber. (I’m looking at you, sheep.)
We fill the tub with hot water, and a few squeezes of Method Free and Clear High Efficiency Laundry Detergent we usually buy at Target. After that, in go the bags of fiber.
For the love of all that is holy, do not agitate the bag of fiber! If you do, the fiber will felt together and you will have a wadded up mess on your hands. Just get it wet, walk away, and let it soak for about 30 minutes.
Nobody wants dirty alpaca yarn, so this process is going to need to be repeated 3-4 times until the water is clear after soaking. Once you are happy with the cleanliness of the fiber, lay it out to dry. We put our on something that lets the air get all around it, like the skirting table or an extra window screen.
If it is summer time, you can set these out in the sun today. In the cold winter, it is a great way to get more moisture in the air by letting them dry inside.
Next, we’re ready for picking.