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What to do with Alpaca Fiber: Skirt it! Part 1 of 4

July 20, 2009

This is the first in a series of blog entries about what to do with alpaca fiber. These articles are taken from Paca Talk #2 “What to do with Fiber” which can be found on pacatalk.com. I’ve taken the time to expand each section a little more in these blog posts than we had time for in the podcast. These first four entries will focus on skirting a raw fleece.

So, let’s begin!

You’ve had a big day shearing (Paca Talk #1), and now you have a room full of plastic bags filled with alpaca fleece. Now what?

Unfortunately, there are only a couple ways to make money from a raw, unpicked fleece in a bag: 1) sell it at a discount to a hand spinner, and 2) well, I can’t think of another way.

The point is that you need to pick your fleeces clean of debris and of second cuts before you can sell it. The first thing you’ll need is a skirting table.

Here’s a picture of my El- Cheapo brand skirting table:

skirtingtable

(I’ve since moved the whole operation to the garage). It is made of PVC pipe and 1/2 inch hardware cloth and duct tape. I have lost the “plans” but basically, you need a frame of about 3’ by 5’ of either wood or pipe. Then you need to attach the 1/2 hardware cloth to it. Hardware cloth is wire mesh, and 1/2 inch holes will allow dirt, poop and some second cuts to fall through. Then you need to set it up on legs or sawhorses. Over the years, I’ve added duct tape to the edges of the cloth to keep it from snagging fiber and an anti-fatigue mat so I don’t get so worn out standing on the concrete garage floor.

That’s all for now. Next time, we’ll talk about how to skirt a fleece!

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