07 May 2012

Shearing Day

Alpacas, some sheared and some not sheared.
On Saturday I drove up to Thunder River Suri Alpacas to see the alpacas being sheared. Rose has been a wonderful supporter and member of North Georgia Knitting Guild and Atlanta Knitting Guild. Her alpaca farm produces animals for other people who would like to start a farm, as well as a range of alpaca products from raw fleece to yarn to dyed yarn to finished garments. Suri alpaca has a lovely sheen and drape similar to silk. It is soft and warm. For spinners, alpaca doesn't need to be scoured before spinning because it contains very little lanolin. This also means that when you buy raw alpaca fleece, very little weight is lost after washing and spinning.

If I recall correctly, Rose has her herd divided up into several groups and keeps them in separate but adjacent pastures. She has a bachelor group of males, a bachelorette group of females, and a group of mommies with babies. Like other camelids, alpacas will spit to express displeasure. At least they aren't subtle, as you know when you've offended one. On the other hand, they have a lovely happy hum they use for friendly communications. It is pleasant to observe a group of alpacas, all happily humming to each other.
Close-up of suri fleece
I don't recall the names of the nice men doing the shearing, but I must thank them for being willing to shear "little brown girl," a 6-month-old cria who doesn't yet have a name. From the official color card, she appears to be a color called "bay black," which is a black with a dark brown undertone. Her coat was not only soft but also glossy. I forgot to get a picture of her after shearing, but she looked like a creature made of dark brown-black silky velvet. She's in the middle of the picture at top before shearing.
Locks of suri alpaca from Little Brown Girl.
On the lock, you'll notice that her fiber is frosted at the tip. The bleaching may be due to either the sun or the exposure of this first fleece to placental fluids. You can see that underneath her locks are a color that would make Milton Hershey envious. I'll have to do some thinking about this special fleece. I'm tempted to tail spin at least some of it, which would produce a yarn that shows off the locks. On the other hand, such an art yarn is trickier to incorporate into a project. Some spinners would probably snip the tips, but I may leave them because even their coppery color is lovely. As with so many things, I will need to sample and see.

Edit: "little brown girl" now has a name -- Priscilla!


Anonymous said...

Oh ... This must mean that you bought another fleece :-)!!!

-- Jolie said...

Yes, but a small one. I really couldn't resist, and there wasn't any adult supervision to stop me!