Yes it’s that time of year again when the ‘fluffies’ become ‘baldies’ and I start to grade my annual harvest of fibre. I’m really impressed by how fine many of my animals are, even though older.
The first fleece of any alpaca is always the best that that particular animal will ever produce and as the years go by, the staple length gets shorter and the individual fibre becomes thicker.
This is a bit of a double edged sword for me as a grower and producer of fibre because the thicker the fibre, the heavier it is. This means that the yield per alpaca is greater and therefore worth more. The idea is to breed density into the herd so that the individual fibres stay fine, but the yield is higher. Trust me, this is so much easier said than done!
Lima’s is one of the biggest fleeces this year and he has maintained his low micron count.
You know how you get that prickle at the back of your neck when trying on a woollen jumper? That prickle is caused by fibres over 30 microns and because I don’t use any fibre over 26 microns, I have to offset yield with the micron count and only use the best to make our yarn. So how do I know what is and isn’t over 26 microns? I have it analysed and use the information not only for fibre production, but also for my breeding programme.
I do find it a bit annoying to see yarn producers marketing ‘baby’ alpaca – it seems to be a catch phrase to define the quality of the fibre, I think it far more accurate to use the words Ultrafine or Superfine because the age of the alpaca is immaterial, it’s their coat quality that is important.
If you think I’m getting on my hobby horse, you’re probably right, so before I become a yarn bore, I’ll say adieu, I mean, I have copious amounts of fluff to play with!