Making Alpaca Yarn – Step 3: Picking

On our way to making alpaca yarn, we’ve taken the fiber from the skirting process and then through washing phase. Now we get to play with some hand-powered machinery: the picker.

The picker has several sharpened nails in multiple directions. Several are sticking up from the bottom of the box, while others are angled downward on the underside of the slide. The fiber picker we use in the video below is currently available for $140 on Etsy.

Running the alpaca fiber through the picker does a few things:

Opens up the fiber

The fiber that comes off of our suri alpacas structured in locks. The picker helps to separate all of the fibers in preparation for carding and spinning.

Makes sure the fiber is dry

There may be some moisture trapped in the locks after drying. Opening up the fibers helps ensure it is completely dry.

Gets more dirt out

Even though we have skirted and repeatedly washed the fiber, we are still able to knock some dust and dirt out of the fiber by using the picker. It is important to get it as clean as possible, because fiber mills charge by incoming weight of the fiber. The cleaner the fiber, the lighter the fiber. The lighter the fiber, the lower the shipping costs and processing fees. After all, who doesn’t want clean alpaca yarn?!

Alright, we only have a few more steps in the process before we have alpaca yarn. Here is where the fiber is in the process so far:

  1. Shearing
  2. Skirting
  3. Washing
  4. Picking
  5. Carding
  6. Spinning

At this point we bring in the pros for the carding and spinning. We leave the fiber its natural color. That way knitters can knit from the animal that they fall in love with at our farm. On occasion, we get creative and blend multiple animals’ fleeces together for a herd blend. Every Spring, the process begins anew.