Spinning Suri Alpaca

At an alpaca festival in Columbus last year, I got a six-ounce bag of chocolate brown suri alpaca roving (I got some white suri and gray huacaya too, but that's for another time). Most knitters are familiar with the soft, warm, sheepy huacaya alpaca fiber, but suri alpaca wool is markedly different. It's slick and shiny as well as warm and soft. It's silky and feels even more luxurious than other alpaca.

Bag of brown Suri Alpaca roving

A perk of buying straight from the farm is I got to know who I was spinning in addition to what I was spinning. This comes from the blanket of Sweet Suri Olympia.

Suri Alpaca fiber wool ball chocolate brown

As roving, suri alpaca feels soft and squishy. It has a nice sheen to it.

I have lofty plans for this bag of alpaca. I want to spin myself a shawl. ("Suri-to-shawl", if you will.) Upon deciding this, I spun myself a small sample skein.

The fiber was slippery and difficult to spin. I had to put a lot of twist into it to keep my spindle from clattering to the ground. I had no trouble drafting it, but I had to make sure my spindle kept putting twist into it or else the yarn would disintegrate.

After a short while of spinning, my hands began to feel sort of greasy. I don't know if it's dirt, lanolin, whatever, maybe it's better that I don't know. But washing my hands with soap and water took it right off, and washing the yarn removed all residue from it as well. Other than that, the roving is remarkably free of farmy artifacts. There's a tiny bit of vegetable matter in it, but I've only come across a handful of bits of grass in spinning it. A skein of Noro is more leafy.

After a half hour or so, I had myself a spindle of gorgeous, chocolatey, luxurious ...twine.

Drop spindle suri alpaca handspun singles

Oh no, I thought. I had overspun the alpaca! Every single thing I had read about spinning alpaca fiber warned not to overspin it. I had ruined my gorgeous lovely fabulous alpaca. It had done nothing wrong to me, but I had heinously wronged it.

Still, I carried on. I plied my 29 wpi singles into a 17 wpi 2-ply yarn. I ended up with about 10 yards of it, but that was all I needed to see how it would turn out.

Something magical happened. As I plied the yarn, it turned... soft! Shiny! Beautiful and halo-y! I knew that plying removed some twist, but never would I have thought it would be enough to turn twine into heaven!

So I had my sample skein, somewhere between a heavy lace and a light fingering, even enough though no one's mistaking it for commercial yarn.

Penny size comparison brown alpaca handspun yarn

It's beautiful, it's soft. Here it is before finishing:

Skein of brown suri alpaca lace knitting yarn

And after finishing, washing and whacking it:

Fuzzy lace knitting yarn handspun chocolate brown suri alpaca fiber

It got slightly fuzzier after finishing, but I'm pleased with that. It's got a nice halo, it's wonderfully soft, and it's nice and shiny too. It's everything that suri alpaca should be.

I'm trying to spin a little bit each day, but I've barely touched the roving and the cop on my spindle hardly seems to grow. I'm not used to spinning laceweight like this... two ounces of fiber will last me ages!

~Joy just keeps spinning, just keeps spinning...

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