Dyeing Alpaca Fleece

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

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