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8 Ways to Spin Naturally Coloured Alpaca Fibre

Donna Rudd Excerpt from Summer 2018 Spin-Off with thanks

Because there are so many variations of alpaca and llama patterns and colours, indigenous peoples in South America have dozens of complex ways to describe them. North American breeders recognize sixteen standard alpaca fleece colours in show rings and sorting sheds.

Here are a few of (the author’s) favourite methods for spinning naturally coloured alpaca fibre; experiment to find your own.

1. Prepare the different colours independently into roving or top, then hold them side by side and draft them together. This will give you a heathered effect that looks great in a two-ply yarn.

2. Spin one singles one colour and a second singles another colour, then ply them together for a marled yarn.

3. Place two or three colours side by side on handcards or a drum carder, then card them to preserve the colours. Spin the roving or rolags from one end to the other, then chain or Navajo-ply the singles to preserve the colour repeats.

4. Flick locks of multiple colours, then spin three colours at random. Repeat with a second bobbin) and ply both together to obtain a variegated yarn.

5. Tailspin suri locks with different-coloured tips; this will preserve the lock structure as well as the colour variation. One of (the author's) favourite yarns is spun from a raw suri fleece so that the tips are left protruding, making an art yarn.

6. Insert the cut ends of very small suri locks into the ply twist when plying to get a tufted yarn.

7. When creating a two-ply yarn of one colour, tease fibre of a second colour and allow it to be grabbed by the ply twist to obtain a fluffy yarn.

8. Spin a thick, low-twist singles of one colour and a thin, moderately high-twist singles of another colour. Ply these together for a spiral yarn.

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