Yes it’s that time of year again when the alpacas have had their annual hair cut and we start preparing all the lovely fibre for the mill. This is the first time we thought to give you an update on their fleece – it’s absolutely fabulous this year.
Of the older girls, only the fleece from Duchess and Adie made it into our Grade 1 bag; Beauty, Diana and Dusty are all Grade 2 now, but of course, as grande dames of the herd and fabulous mothers, they are still adored. What is absolutely marvellous is that all the others are Grade 1 and our newest additions are ‘Royal’ (meaning the whole fleece is under 20 microns).
Tracy was trying to think of a way to show you how the fleece samples differ not only from each other, but with each passing year. The image above relates to our older alpacas and the ones below are alpacas born between 2010 and 2012. The staple length from the fleece from Isis looks shorter, this is because she was born in July and the sample depicts only 9 months growth.
The way the light reflects off the fibre denotes brightness and fineness (for example, compare Helene to Beauty – her grandmother). Crimp is the crinkle effect you can see, staple is the finger effect of clusters of fibre and indicates density (the quantity of individual fibres are growing within 1 square mm). A micron is 1/1000th of a mm and guard hair is coarse fibre that stand out from the main fleece and act as an umbrella, deflecting the water away. As alpacas get older, their fleece becomes shorter and coarser, this is why grading and sorting is so important and why we are hands on at shearing so that the quality of our yarn is maintained.
The comments are Tracy’s analytical assessment based on experience. She will however send samples like these off for mechanical analysis especially for George as he is going to stud this year. Both Hero and Iago are potential stud males too – we just have to wait and see how they grow and develop.