A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

October 11, 2007

The Fleece is Flying – Literally!

Large Skirting TableWe have been busily working on sorting and skirting fleeces this week.  We have the fleece bags sorted into piles for the different types of processing we will be using.  Some bags of special fleeces will be spun into yarn with only the fleece from a single alpaca used in that yarn batch, some fleece is going to be made into socks, another pile of fleece will be made into rugs and then a large pile of fleece will be going to the Alpaca Fiber Cooperative of North America.  We will of course be keeping our show fleeces and then those will be available for sale to hand spinners once the shows are over.  Typically our show fleeces only stand up to 3 –4 shows and so their show life is limited, but they are our best fleeces and are beautifully clean, skirted and great for hand spinners to work with. 

We now have two skirting tables set up, one in the studio for me to skirt the show fleeces on and then our latest super sized skirting table which we are using to skirt fleeces for processing.  Ric made the latest skirting table and I specifically wanted a large size as I find it helps things go smoothly on shearing day.  With a large skirting table to work on I don’t have to worry about trying to prevent the fleece from falling off the edge of the skirting table. 

It was a little bit of a challenge to build this table, we really wanted to have metal ½” or 1” mesh on the table but could not find any that was either sturdy enough or wide enough for the table.  We ended up using a plastic mesh and still we could only get itin 3’ width and so there are a couple of areas on the skirting table where the mesh has joins in it.  The mesh is a little rough on the edges at the joins and so to prevent the fleece from catching on the mesh we have covered the joins with smooth cardboard.  Underneath each join we have a reinforcing wooden strut that makes it easy just to staple the cardboard onto the skirting table.  We contemplated for a long while what material to use to cover the joins and decided at the end of the day that good old cardboard was the best choice.  It is smooth, does not catch on the fleece and does not create static. 

 Skirting Table Join

Talking of static, it is something that is a problem for us in our dry environment.  A couple of things we have found that can help while sorting fleece and dealing with static are wiping the skirting table and your hands with a dryer sheet, or using a static preventative spray on both the skirting table and yourself.  Remember to try and wear natural fabrics when you are sorting or skirting fleece or you can build up static in your clothing.   Another tip is to mix a little hair conditioner with some water in a mister bottle and lightly spray the fleece you are working on, just make sure that the fleece is dry before you bag or box it up again. 

Skirting in very dry conditions can become quite a problem, with strands of fiber attaching themselves to you and being difficult to remove, it can get quite frustrating as you remove the strands of fiber from one hand only have them attach themselves to the other hand.  On Monday though I had my funniest fleece static incident yet.  Ric was emptying a fleece out of its clear plastic bag onto the new skirting table; he was standing about mid way of the length of the table, I was standing at the end of the table.  The fleece landed on the skirting table and Ric went to unroll it, as he did so a piece of fleece flew through the air and literally slapped me in the face!  The piece of fleece had traveled an amazing 3ft or so to get to me and had a stinging blow to it!  I’ve always had an attraction for fleece but now it seems the fleece is attracted to me!   Of course the nylon work trousers I was wearing that day and the plastic bag the fleece had been stored in may have had something to do with my fleece-attracting aura! 

Rosemary

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