Sunday, 31 January 2016

Shearing time at Winter Creek

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It seems like an age since I have made any projects.  Moving interstate, starting a new job and setting up our small holding 'Winter Creek' has taken up every ounce of my spare time. 

My craft room is set up and ready to go but each time I go in, I can't seem to string enough hours together to make starting a project worthwhile.

However, all that changed on Friday with the arrival of our shearer.  That's right .. I finally have access to a supply of wool and what's more, the wool is from our very own alpacas - Martha, Sally, Jefferson and Little Bear.

Grazing happily before the big shear.
Being newbie alpaca owners, we were a bit concerned when the shearer said that we needed to round them up in a pen because, firstly, we didn't have a pen and secondly, how do you 'round' them up?

We improvised by enclosing our chicken coop with some pickets and wire which took about an hour and when we turned around, our girls (and Jefferson) were lining up at the entrance - couldn't have been easier.  Just called them in and shut the gate.  They are easier to handle than our dog.

I was really looking forward to seeing how it is all done.  Growing up in Australia, everyone knows about sheep shearing.  We learn all about the importance of wool in establishing the colony that went on to become our nation - but very little is known about alpaca shearing.

Happy smiles - before the wrangling started

I invited Deb and Andie along to have a look as it's always nice to have a day out in the country and it was lucky they were there when Sally made a bolt for it after shearing and we needed all hands on deck to gently coax her back to the chicken/alpaca holding pen.

Genuine wrangling in action

Sally is in there somewhere

She doesn't look all that impressed with her new clip

Glorious alpaca fleece
I must admit I was a bit shocked when they were completely trussed, feet tied like a pig on a spit.  Surely they must find that distressing, but to their credit, they were really good.  I think they handled it better than I did.  The end result though was a large number of bags filled to the brim with what seems like acres of
Cleaned fleece - fluffy like a cloud

Then the fun started.  I picked the fleece to get out the debris (or VM as it is called), washed and soaked it in hot water, picked it again to get the clean fluffiness I was after and carded the fleece using my hand carders.  

1st rolag - decided to get a drum carder
after about 100 of these.

It didn't take too many hours to realise that hand carding just wasn't going to cut it, so, as I type, I am eagerly awaiting the delivery of my new drum carder.  Let the games begin.

A gorgeous basket of lovliness

Time for some serious carding action

Finally, some spinning action
In the meantime, I was thrilled to be able to get 'Evie' out and begin to spin our hand fed wool.  I can't begin to tell you how wonderful that felt.

The end result - I hope Sally is proud.

 .. and here is the end result.  My first skein of 'Sally'.

Sally says 'Hello'

Thanks so much for visiting.
Louise, Deb & Andie

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