My next exotic fiber for the summer is alpaca. I bought several colors and varieties of alpaca at SAFF in 2015 and it’s been waiting for me ever since.
I chose this fiber next because I have a project in mind for it. One of my friends recently took a vacation to New Zealand, and brought me back some lovely possum/merino yarn. If you are American, this is NOT the possum you are thinking of! It’s the brushtail possum. The yarn is Zealana Rimu, in a lovely muted teal color called Oceanwave. This yarn is available in the US but is quite expensive here, so I’m really happy to have gotten it as a gift. I have enough to make a pair of gloves. One of my fingerless glove patterns has a lovely lace cuff, so I want to spin an alpaca yarn to knit the cuff.
I started off spinning just the alpaca by itself. In order to have a strong yarn and match the gauge of the Rimu, it needs to be at least a three-ply, and so I spun a sample and navajo-plied it. I’m not very good at that anyway, and I found I had a lot of problems with the singles flying apart while I was plying it. So then I did some reading about alpaca, and learned that it takes more twist to make a sturdy yarn than I was using. So I tried again, and it was better but still not strong enough.
At that point I decided to blend the alpaca with some wool, and I chose Falklands because it’s a nice long fiber and soft against the skin. I tried two different blending methods. First, I used hand cards to make a fairly uniform blend, color-wise. This creates a very lofty yarn, and I still had some issues with the singles coming apart while plying. Next I used my blending board to create a more variegated blend, and it came out really nice. You can see from the picture that it is a more marled result, which I like very much. That stripeyness knits into an attractive tweedy look. Plus it created a much stronger result, which I was able to ply with no problems.
So the blending board, in this case, gave me the yarn I want for my cuffs. Next I’m going to start knitting the cuff for the first glove and just see how much more yarn I’ll need to spin to do the pair.