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Delta Dawn Shawl

This hand spun shawl was made from our cria Delta Dawn (cria means baby alpaca ūüôā ¬†We shear our herd in the Spring. It takes many hours to spin the fibers into yarn. ¬†The fiber has to be washed several times to get all the alpaca dust and straw and other matter out of the fleece. ¬†This process is made easy with the right cleaners, but it is still a pivotal step because the fiber can felt at this point. Care must be taken not to shock the fibers together with either too heavy a hand or drastic changes in water temperature. If the fibers are felted you end up with a pretty useless, matted ball of hard fiber.

After the fiber is dried, I hand card and pick the fibers a little to get the rest of the hay and sticks out. ¬†There is always more…

I spin the fiber on a spinning wheel and try to keep the size consistent.  The hardest part of this process is staying awake.  The spinning of the wheel makes a very comforting whirling sound.  It usually puts Jim right to sleep and I have to fight to stay awake and treadling. Coffee helps.

Once spun, the yarn is set with hot water and let to dry.  At this point shocking the fibers a little is a good thing because it helps keep the twist in the fibers together.

I weave my shawls on either a floor loom or a table loom. ¬†My preference has been the table loom lately because I get to watch TV while I weave. We generally watch comedies or epic tales of the heroes journey or something on the history channel. ¬†We also love The Office, but i digress…

The weaving is easy, but before you can weave you must warp. ¬†Remember being a kid and your teacher gave you two pieces of construction paper and had you cut straight lines in one and cut the other into strips and weave to make a placemat? ¬†No? ¬†Hmm… Well, it’s essentially the frame of the woven piece. ¬†Warping can be tricky. ¬†That’s all I will say about that.

After two nights of binge watching Foyle’s War, I have a beautiful shawl. ¬†Cutting the thread off the loom is so gratifying. ¬†In the end, it feels like a soft alpaca hug.

 

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