A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

October 29, 2009

Alpaca For iPod owners?

While in England I came across a short magazine article that mentioned that Apple has issued a warning that some people listening via iPod, iPhone or Mac Computer have received small electrical shocks through their ear buds – ouch!  People using the devices in areas where the air is very dry (such as ours in New Mexico) sometimes build up static electricity and receive a discharge of this static through their ear buds.

To be fair I am sure that the problem is not confined to users of Apple products, but rather is a possibility for anyone using a device of any make with ear buds, but Apple has taken the initiative to the address the problem and has listed on their web site some steps people can take to reduce the problem.  Amongst the steps listed is:

Try wearing different clothes. Try clothes with natural fibers since synthetic fibers are more likely to hold a static charge.”

Whoopee – commercial giant Apple is suggesting the use of natural fibers.

Of course when I read the words natural fibers I think of alpaca.  It would be great to think that we could convert all iPod, iPhone or Mac computer users to wearing alpaca – even better still to hope that we could get all people who use ear buds to wear alpaca.  I am sure the other natural fiber producers would also want a look in at the new market of opportunity, but there should be enough people to share among us.

Natural fibers are a much better option for reducing static in your clothes.  Natural fibers are not entirely static free, but do offer a more static free experience.  Natural fibers tend also to be better for your skin as they allow your skin to breathe and often wick any moisture away from the skin too.  Remember though that garments often have some nylon or elastic blended in with them and to guarantee the best chance of being static free everything you wear would need to be made of natural fiber.  Still the wearing of natural fibers such as alpaca generally makes for a more comfortable experience.

So thank you Apple for encouraging the use of natural fibers – and for all of you out there starting to think of Christmas shopping think alpaca when it comes to a gift for the ear bud users in your life!

*Note – I don’t own an iPod (sorry Apple) but do own an MP3 player and to date I have never experienced a static shock through my ear buds, but of course I wear alpaca!



October 12, 2007

A Question of Static

In reponse to my blog entry of yesterday, my friend Linda posted the following comment:

“We’ve always known you were attractive Rosie – but that takes the biscuit!  On the question of static, can I ask when the finished product in the form of rugs or has been completed – is the static build up as strong?  I was just thinking ahead to when my rug is ready as I too seem to generate a great deal of static.  I am forever getting shocks from the door of my car! 

Of course when the rug is ready it will be literally be flying too – over to me in UK, but I wondered should I duck when the postman arrives at the door?”

Linda poses some good questions in her comment, so I thought in case anyone else reading the blog was concerned about static in alpaca fiber it would be good to address the questions in a follow up post.

So in answer to the question when the finished product in the form of rugs has been completed – is the static build up as strong? I would have to say no, the static build up would not be as strong.  Part of the problem we had the other day was that we were working in very dry air and tipping fleece out of plastic bags onto a plastic mesh wearing nylon trousers.  Plastic is really good for creating static as I soon found out when the piece of fleece flew across the skirting tale and hit me on the face.  The fleece bag was doing a really good job of creating a static charge and once the fleece was released from the bag the fiber, having the same charge (either positive or negative) as the bag needed to discharge by traveling to something with the opposite charge, which just happened to be me on that day.

In our years of dealing with alpaca products we have not found them to be a problem when it comes to static.  In very dry weather conditions such as ours static becomes much commonplace in everything, and you might expect to have a little static as you take off an alpaca sweater and it brushes against your hair.

Some people do tend to have more of a problem with static than others and there are a few things you can do to cut down on static.  The first thing is to get in the practice of grounding yourself by touching a solid object prior to touching anything else.  By grounding yourself there may be a little zap of electricity but it will be much reduced. You can use a humidifier in your house, as warm moist air is less likely to produce static.  Making sure you use fabric softener and a dryer sheet when you launder your clothes will help to cut down on static, or if the problem is really bad you can always buy and anti-static spray and spray yourself with it a few times every day.

In answer to Linda’s second question “should I duck when the postman arrives at the door?”   – well Linda that all depends on how nicely you have treated your postman in the past year!


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! 


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