So while I was waxing lyrical about the new cashmere in the shop, I never said a word — not a word — about the little something I had up my sleeve for the spinners. Why? Because the holidays are all about surprises!
And this was a surprise worth keeping: the most amazingly soft combed top made from 50% Baby Alpaca and 50% Superfine Merino wool. It’s incredibly light, incredibly soft… It feels like clouds in your hands. And it dyes up beautifully.
50/50 Baby Alpaca/Merino blend in Evening Fog (left) and Tarnished (right)
For those of you who’ve never tried alpaca, I turned to my friend Natalie — a more experienced and excellent spinner — for some advice. She said, “Alpaca is warmer and lighter than wool. For knitting, a worsted weight yarn would make an awfully warm sweater – possibly too warm for daily wear. On the other hand, if you want outer gear like hats and gloves, a thick, woolen spun alpaca would be like carrying around your own little furnace!
“Alpaca is a little more difficult to control than straight wool because it has a shorter staple length and feels sort of slippery. I hold my hands closer together when I’m drafting to adjust for the shorter staple length. I also try to get twist into the fiber more quickly than I would usually do with wool.
“Also, remember that alpaca has practically no memory. So, for knitting, it often works better blended with other fibers that will give it a little bit of elasticity and memory.”
50/50 Baby Alpaca/Merino blend in Rhubarb and Custard (left) and SeaFoam (right)
The blend of superfine merino and baby alpaca together will give your yarn the elasticity and memory that you need for knitting. And the extra lightness and warmth that the alpaca gives you yarn will be perfect for warm winter mittens and hats.
And as I was in a mood for dyeing fiber, I went ahead and did a batch of Blue-Faced Leicester as well. Enjoy!
Clockwise from top left: BFL Combed top in Spice Trade, Sweetpeas, SeaFoam, and Sweetpeas.