Back at the beginning of the year I spent a day spinning up in Normandy. To be honest it was not a good experience but one happy thing did come of it. I met Alex who is a gregarious English lady living in Normandy with her Alpacas - and various other animals. Last week Max and I were on our own for a few days and decided to go and visit her. Purely pleasure but of course with Alpaca Fibre being the ultimate aim!
We chose a lovely sunny day, by chance, and arrived late morning. We'd never seen alpacas before and what beautiful animals they are. She has about 16, most of which she has bred herself. She sells the cria (the young) and also the fibre. We met Ron, the alpaca who was born a month early and first trodden on and then abandonned by his mother. Alex bottle fed him in her kitchen for the first few months of his life and as a result he is like no other alpaca. He clearly considers Alex to be his mother and like all young children wants her to play with him whenever he sees her. He's very sweet but it was quite a surprise to suddenly see an alpaca wrapping his legs around Max's neck!
No, we were not tempted to come back with an Alpaca despite most of the family imagining that that was the reason for going up there. I have come back instead with two kilos of alpaca fibre and a Jacob fleece which Alex kindly gave me. The Alpaca is currently on the wheel and I am deciding whether to combine it with silk to make a shawl; I am quite sure the decision will be made for me when I get sick of spinning such thin yarn!
There is an advantage though with spinning alpaca. The fibre requires a lot less preparation - it isn't greasy for one thing, filthy with dust but not greasy. In the end and after a few experiments I decided to pass it through the drum carder and then comb it. The result is similar to a young girl who didn't want to brush her hair but did sort of to keep her mother happy - ie. no longer tangled but not over neat.