Dyeing Alpaca Fleece

dyed alpaca fibre

In the background of all my other goings on for the past week or so, I’ve had a dye pot full of alpaca fleece slowly bubbling away.

There’s a lot of hobby farms (especially around Canberra) who keep alpacas for the animals, and then aren’t sure about what to do with their fleece come shearing time. If you keep a look out on the buy-swap-sell pages (and lets be honest, have all your friends and family keeping an eye out too) you will occasionally find some one giving away bags of fleece. This is how I ended up with a box full of the stuff!

alpaca fleece
A big box of alpaca fleece waiting for me to start processing it. (it is a happy coincidence there is a picture of alpacas in the background, my brother gave it to me last week and I’m yet to hang it up!)

I have been working my way through this box of alpaca fleece. I even gave my mum a big bag full so she can use some.

I had already washed some of it. So I divided it up and started dyeing it. Each day I have been dyeing a little bit more.

firey orange alpaca fleece drying
Today I have a gorgeous fiery orange drying in the sunniest window

I dyed the last of the washed fleece yesterday. So this morning I have just dropped another bag full in to soak and clean. Even though dyeing it takes very little effort, it is quite rewarding to be achieving something little every day.

washing alpaca fleece
Washing more alpaca fleece

I have dyed pink, green, purple, blue, yellow and orange so far. After dyeing, it needs to be carded to make it super fluffy . In the photo below, the pink has been carded.

dyed alpaca fibre
My dye results so far
carded v non carded fibre
This shows the difference between carded fibre and non carded fibre. To the left is the carded fibre, it is super fluffy, and all the fibres have been aligned.

What am I going to do with it all once I’m finished? Well, I have already taken some of it to work, where the children were convinced there are pink alpacas wandering the world, that was until I explained how I processed it and dyed it. I might hold onto it for doing more fibre related workshops with the children because, well, free means I keep the expenses down, and there isn’t usually a lot to spend on resources. It also creates a super valuable intentional teaching moment.

drop spinning
The children at work practiced drop spinning. I’m about to go and ply this so they can use it french knitting this afternoon

I am sure you are all wondering how I’m going with my patchwork chair I wrote about last week. Well, I’ve been madly sewing hexagons together all week. I finally had enough pieces together yesterday to start the reupholstering! I employed Guy for this bit, He has more experience and skill in this area! We have the seat to go, and then the trim to attach.

patchwork chair
The chair in its current state! So close to the finish line!

I hope to have the chair finished in the next day or so. I look foward to showing you the process and results next week!

Have a creative week!

<3 Cate

Celebration of Wool

Every year there is one thing marked on my calendar that I can not miss. Its the Celebration of Wool market day at the Old Bus Depot Markets in Kingston Canberra.

The Old Bus Depot Markets (OBDM) are awesome every weekend of the year. There is hot apple cider and coconut chicken to look forward to, or freshly squeezed orange juice and sweet pastries to try. There is always top notch crafts people selling their wares from paintings, to wood work, to sewn goods. There is honestly something for everyone. Guy likes to sniff out new and old favorite foods, my Dad looks out for plants, my Mum can often find fabrics, my niece some crafting things. We often meet out there on a Sunday morning when the family has been in town visiting, just before everyone heads back to their “normal” lives.

But every May (around the 3rd weekend), they have a market dedicated to everything wool. Fibre, yarn and fabric. Ugg boots, felted vests, hand dyed yarns, homegrown fleece. Even shearing demonstrations!

It’s not just me who loves it. This day has become so popular that last year they made it into a two day event! And added classes!

So what happens when you have a spinning obsession, expendable cash and a market day dedicated to all things woolly? You end up well stocked with fibrey goodness and a stockpile that will last maybe ~ a month!

This is how my weekend just gone went. I headed to the markets on the Sunday, 20th May. With Guy in toe, our first mission was to fuel up with deliciousness (pizza for breaky?! why not…), closely followed by buying all of it. Well not really, I was pretty selective, sniffed out what was around before heading back to buy things.


wool day stash

Some of my favourite places were Feltfine, Glenora, Raxor Yarns. I bought some beautiful wool from some lovely ladies who grew their own sheeps but I didn’t get a business card and didn’t take much notice of their store name. Sad panda that I can’t pass their details along, sorry! Oh and a sneaky Birthday present for mum from Frank Williams!

So obviously I have spent my spare time since Sunday spinning!

Spinning self portrait. Here I am plying some corriedale I picked up from Glenora at the Old Bus Depot Markets wool expo

I defiantly recommend checking out the Old Bus Depot Markets! They have other theme days as well, and are worth checking out any Sunday of the year. But if your fibre inclined, I highly recommend the Celebration of Wool (Wool Expo) weekend in May (usually the 3rd weekend of May). And there is a “Creative Fibre Day” on July 8 which is not as big as the wool days, but have a lot of great fibrey, wooly goodness too!