How to Wash Alpaca Fiber
I love spinning alpaca fiber. Unfortunately, there are not too many resources out there on how to do this. Alpaca fiber’s scales are different from sheep’s wool, making it a bit slicker and some might say harder to spin. That’s probably why my copy of Spinning Luxury Fibers is so well loved. There’s great information on spinning camelid fibers in there.
One thing you might wonder when buying an alpaca fleece is how to wash unprocessed alpaca wool. Ultimately, you don’t have to, because alpaca doesn’t have the oils like sheep. However, you may not like the smell or the fine dirt that gets into the coat.
Here are my simple steps for washing alpaca wool:
- Get two basins of water (you can use one, it just takes a bit longer).
- Fill one basin with warm-to-hot water and regular Dawn dish soap, which is gentle on the fiber.
- Put the fiber in the water and push it down (don’t agitate it too much!) and let the fiber soak for 20-30 minutes.
- Fill the other basin with clean warm water. Let the fiber soak in that for 20-30 minutes. Repeat Steps 3-4 if you feel the fiber is still dirty.
- Gently squeeze out any excess water and let it dry on a mesh surface (I use washable hamper bags suspended over my tub).
Then it’s on to processing the fiber just the way Judith MacKenzie teaches in Spinning Luxury Fibers.