Celtic Cable

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Alpaca, Cables, and a Bum Drum (Carder)

Happy Friday, everyone!  I've had a super fibery-week! I spun some merino on the wheel, some Icelandic on the spindle -- Icelandic is excellent for spindle-spinning -- and some pure alpaca (on the spindle.) On to the alpaca!

I washed, combed, and spun some of the Nancy fiber I got from Shepherd's Purse Alpaca farm.

 I soaked it once without soap, then with Suave Strawberry Shampoo (you are supposed to use human hair shampoo with alpaca, I've read). I soaked it a couple more times after the round with soap, then dumped it out to dry. It went from dusty black and full of VM to shiny, soft, and floaty.

The cats loved it.

Edgar guarded it for a couple of days. I think he thought it was his kin.

Carding alpaca is difficult! It clings to the carder, but not so much to itself.

And it looks remarkably like my doggy's hair. Perhaps I could make a blend.

Spinning it was somewhat difficult. Edgar persisted in his attentions.

A singles swatch. The swatch is 100% alpaca. The stuff wrapped around the darning egg (I really need some nostepinnes) is blended with brightly dyed mohair locks. I was experimenting. Alpaca by itself is wonderfully soft and fun, but it is the very dickens to card and spin!

And my drum carder is not working properly, which doesn't help. The drive belt just isn't driving. I can still use it, but only with the large drum. Since I don't use the licker-in, it's not that big a deal -- I always feed the fiber in on the top, using the teeth to tease open the locks and stretch them out while the drum is turning. It's faster, and more efficient that way. IMHO. But I need the small drum to blend fibers. I have completely dismantled it, cleaned it, oiled, reassembled ... still no luck. I am probably 100% to blame ... I don't use air conditioning most of the summer, and it was exposed to heat and humidity.

On to the WIPs! Here is the sweater-in-progress, front and back at the same time. The far left view is the front view; the closer work is the back view. I love it when the cables start showing!

The ever fabulous Kool-Aid blanket. I couldn't get the dog to stand next to it for scale ... it's long enough to go from my toes to my torso, and wide enough to comfortably cover me. I am going to make it longer now, but not wider.

One of the strays, Stranger Boy. He was playing with the yarn ball a second before I took the picture.

D'awwww..... isn't he adorable? Don't you just want to take him home with you?

Don't you? Pretty please?

And for anyone interested in my couch-to-5k program ... I am in week five. The 5k is 28 October, so I have 29 days to work up to running 3.1 miles without stopping. Although what I do couldn't properly be called 'running....' Perhaps 'trudging' is a better word for it! In any case, it's a few hours a week in which my butt isn't on the sofa or in the spinning chair!

Happy Friday!


  1. Lots of beutiful fibre and fibrey projects. It all looks wodnerful. I have some alpaca to card and spin so I will remember to give it plenty of time

  2. I have never heard to use human shampoo with Alpaca. You may want to get out some handcarders if your drum carder is giving you grief. Carding 100% Alpaca is slow enough without the frustration. Good luck.

  3. I love the Kool Aid blanket!! Great job on getting up and moving, too!! XXO-

  4. Wow, you are busy! Beautiful projects. I also hadn't heard of using human shampoo on alpaca, though I'm sure it would be fine. Keep us posted on your 5K progress, I have just started a new walking regimen this week so you can help inspire me :)

  5. Love the kitty, but alas, allergic to them. The blanket is so cute! Good luck carding the fiber.

  6. Wow, congrats on working toward the 5k!!! I'm not sure this will help your drum carder situation, but when the drive band on my wheel gets to the point where the groove has become too smooth to offer enough traction, I gently sand the groove with fine sandpaper, brush out any sanding dust and with the band back in place, all is well. I've also read to loosen the drive band when not in use, so it's doesn't loose elasticity. I can't wait to see what you make with the alpaca!

  7. Your cables are coming along nicely! I think I'm starting Starmore's St. Brigid soon. I'm sure you'll hear plenty about it in the next few months.

  8. Good luck with your trudging! People say it gets easier (or at least I hope they do). Your sweater is off to a great start. You are lucky to have such good helpers for your spinning :-)

  9. all the stuff about your carder is above my head, I knew what carding was but that's about it. I'm very impressed with your 5k program, I need to do that but it's so much more fun to sit on the computer or paint in my spare moments, I need to do something soon though lest I explode. Glad you liked the ornament!and Thank you for the idea!

  10. Boy you really have been busy this week. I have suri alpacas and their fiber can be very difficult to card. I always use the licker-in...I've never tried to put it on the large drum and I so very slowly. I usually mix in some merino. Good luck on your 5K!

    Happy Fiber Arts Friday!!

  11. Wow, you've been so busy this week.

    I love it when cables start to show too. :-)

  12. Looks like you've got a good start on a beautiful sweater. I wonder what Andrea's secret is to making pretty alpaca batts. Sounds like it's a lot of work.

  13. I haven't been brave enough to tackle raw fiber. I love that your cat was attracted to the fiber.

    Your sweater is beautiful, so far.


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