Friday, July 31, 2009

Alpaca-Bunny Smackdown: Part 2

So I’ve entered a fiber competition.

@sheepmama and @vtknitboy have the same samples that I do. ¼ ounce each of huacaya alpaca and angora rabbit. I raise the alpacas and @sheepmama raises the bunny rabbits. We have convinced @vtknitboy to be our impartial judge.

The goal? Determine which is better; alpaca or angora. @vtknitboy will publish his decision on next week’s Fiber Arts Friday blog carnival, courtesy of @AlpacaFarmGirl.

You can learn more about how the smackdown began here.

My intention was to process both samples concurrently so I could compare for myself at each step. I have never spun angora before. I have spun alpaca but not my own.

The bunny was hand-plucked by @sheepmama soon after we agreed to the terms of the smackdown. It is very clean so I chose not to wash it. Also both @sheepmama and @vtknitboy recommended to spin the bunny as is. That means no carding. So the bunny is in exactly the same state it was when it arrived nearly 2 weeks ago.

The alpaca was shorn by me and some friends in May. It was stored in a plastic bag and cardboard box in a storage unit. It was not going to be processed until after we reached our residential destination.

I have purchased a second set of hand carders since my first set is in storage, in a box that I can’t reach. We are (still) in the process of moving to our farm, but more on that another day.

I must admit that when the bunny arrived and I put my hand in the bag to pull out the sample, I was nervous. The bunny is so soft. It’s like holding a cloud.

The alpaca was raw. That means dirty. Dirty with dirt, hay and weeds, which of course makes the alpaca feel less soft.

I washed the alpaca by soaking it in the sink with dish soap. My Eucelan is also in storage, so I was crossing my fingers that the Seventh Generation dish soap would be gentle enough. After 2 changes of soapy water and 1 change of clean water, I hung the alpaca to dry in the shower.

My husband prefers that I process fiber anywhere but the kitchen and shower, but what’s a girl to do? This is a competition and we’re dealing with less than ideal circumstances. Fortunately, he thinks the smackdown is cute.

After the alpaca had dried I pulled it out of the mesh bag to see how it was. Fortunately, it was soft and lovely. The fiber was clean and much of the vegetable matter had come out in the wash. I finally start to gain a little confidence. We might do ok in this smackdown.

I hadn’t carded anything since I first learned to spin about 18 months ago. So the carding took a little getting used to. I think I started out with too much fiber, but everything turned out ok and I now have 6 alpaca rolags.

For me, rolags are very special. It was with rolags that spinning finally made sense for me.

So this is where I am today. 6 home made rolags of alpaca and handful of luscious angora.
Tomorrow, I start spinning.

Please visit all of the Alpaca-Bunny Smackdown players. These are talented, generous and fun people.

@vtknitboy: Twitter, blog.
@sheepmama: Twitter, blog and Etsy Store.
@AlpacaFarmGirl: Twitter, blog and Etsy store.
You can also search Twitter by using #alpacabunnysmackdown

Thank you for sharing in our smackdown and please check out this week's Fiber Arts Friday carnival over at the Alpaca Farm Girl blog.


Dutch Hollow Acres said...

Gosh I need a set of hand carders. I've been combing the tops of fiber out and spinning from that.

WonderWhyGal said...


I can't wait to see your results. Thanks for the details too.

I can't wait to see the results.

Alpaca Farmgirl said...

This is great! Why is it that husbands are so fussy about having fiber everywhere? Mine is. He sometimes feels like he's drowning in it - maybe that's why.

Love that you are doing this!!! Hugs. And may the best fuzzball win!