An online friend, James, whom I met through Ravelry, a knit/crochet "community", told me about London Dairy Alpaca's, where he'd gone to an open house one weekend. I looked them up on the web and did a little corresponding with Wade, one of the owners. I bought some baby alpaca and some bamboo, with the intention of blending them together for a very soft yarn. (Sorry something is happening with the layout as I write this)
This is what the 2 fibers look like before blending. The alpaca is super soft all by itself, and the bamboo feels like silk, and by blending them together, will create a slightly stronger fiber.
I took one afternoon blending the 2 fibers together on my drum carder. Unfortunately, I forgot to take any photos of that part of the process. I tore the batts into a long strip of roving, balling it up into 2 separate, but equal "bumps", and began spinning. Don had given me a "Woolee Winder" (and several bobbins) for my birthday, and this was the 1st time that I used them from beginning spinning the fiber, to plying it.
The Woolee Winder allows the spinner to concentrate on spinning and not have to stop and move the strand of yarn from hook to hook as with the original flyer. In this photo, you can see how evenly the yarn is winding around the bobbins shaft.
This photo shows how I draft the fiber before I allow it to be spun into a single strand of yarn.
One bobbin filled with a little over 2 ounces of yarn and another "bump" of fiber to spin onto another bobbin. I will spin (ply) the 2 "singles" of yarn together to make a 2 ply yarn.
After plying the 2 singles together, I then followed the same process that I had previously done with the 2 skeins of sock yarn. I dyed the entire skein of the alpaca/bamboo blend in a bath of yellow. You'll notice that the yarn is a bit more "grey", rather than the starkly white sock yarn, so the dye colors will be effected and be a bit duller/more subtle or subdued.
Reds added, but not as much as I would end up using......
The final product. As I mentioned earlier, the colors are all subdued compared to how they turned out on the white sock yarn, but when this is knit up, I believe it will be very nice looking. My plan is to use it for one of Elizabeth Zimmerman's Baby Surprise Jackets. I should have enough yarn, but if not, I will be able to spin some more, and even if the dyeing process does differ, it is knit in a stripe type pattern, so it will just add interest to the jacket. ;)