I decided to try out some different fiber. The best way to learn is to try, right? And since I prefer knitting scarfs and other delicate pieces I went ahead and ordered some luxurious fibers that are new to me. The yak fiber is one for example, that I’m still considering how to spin. I also ordered baby camel; the silk, angora and merino blend; and some nice kashmir fluff. They are all fantastically soft!
Besides this I found a fun package of 28 different sheep fluff 1 oz to try from woolgatherings. I will write more about that separately.
I discovered that there are many ways to wash fiber when running some searches on the internet. Some advanced, some easier, some containing chemicals and others more eco friendly. I prefer being eco friendly. Apparently ammoniac and lanolin (wool fat) combined generates some sort of soap, but not to eco friendly I’m afraid.
That is when I discovered soap nuts. I had never heard of it. It’s not actually nuts, it’s a small dried fruit from the Sapindus Mukorossi tree, one of several trees referred to as soap nut trees. The soap nuts have been used for washing in India for a very long time. Being a little skeptical (just what you should be) I had to do some more reading before concluding that this really seems to be a good eco friendly alternative.
I boiled some soap nuts and then used about 3 tablespoons decoction in a finger warm bath.
For unwashed fiber I did two baths.
- Washes fiber really well (since you can wash your hair with the soap nuts too)
- No insecticidals needed when growing the soap nuts since the saponin in the fruits keep insects away
- Saponin is the natural detergent
- The trees grow naturally in their environment and are a needed addition to the eco system
I’ve been wanting to meet alpacas for some time now. So last Friday my husband and I went to visit Kusipacha Alpacka farm.
Alpacas are amazingly cut animals, amazingly soft and probably the kindest animal I’ve ever met.
When they lean their ears backwards it means that they are relaxed (unlike horses…)
Alpacas are kept for their wonderful fiber. They hail from the Andes and have been domestic animals for a long time. Their closest ancestor is the vicuña, which is smaller and lives in the wild of Peru.
Some amazingly soft yarns spun from alpaca fiber.
Good fiber is soft, thick, curly like this and becomes like stamps when you cut it. It should also have a nice sheen.
The darker colors of fawn and brown are usually not as soft as the white (but still very soft).
This white is not as thick, but the sheen! It’s hard to capture it on a picture, but my mind kept thinking of silk.
This is how long the alpaca fiber is.
And finally I purchased some fiber for spinning. Some white and some brown. The fiber from the legs is either thrown away or used to stuff cushions as it’s not so fine. I got to bring some of that for my fiber loving cats.