I think I’ve written before about skirting. It’s the one step we have to do before we send our fleeces to the mill. On Sunday, Mom and I skirted another seven fleeces.

We start by laying half of the fleece on the skirting “table”. I made our makeshift table from plastic fencing mesh, pvc pipe and zip ties. It isn’t the sturdiest or most efficient thing, but it does the job. We use our fingers to lightly separate the locks of hair, searching for tangles, burrs and second cuts. Second cuts, which are caused by the overlap between two rows where the shearer has cut away fiber, are the bane of our existence. They cause terrible tangles in the roving, which in turn cause lumps in my yarn, and me to tear my hair out.

We also pull, or skirt, off the edges of the fleece, which are not as soft or as long as the center part of the “blanket”. As we handle the fleece, dirt and other nasties fall through the mesh.

After we’ve gotten as much out of one side of the fleece as possible, we sandwich it between the two pieces of our table and shake it like mad. Dirt and dust, as well as more second cuts, come flying out. Then we turn the whole thing over and repeat on the other side.

Second cuts on the ground beneath the skirting table, along with a fine sprinkling of dust.

When we are confident that only the highest quality fiber remains, we begin to load it into a clear plastic bag, pulling it apart loosely. Any remaining second cuts fall out at this stage.

About cliffhousealpacas

Once upon a time, my dad drove by some funny looking animals standing on little dirt hills in a field. Thus, the dream of an alpaca ranch was born. Now, we are embarking on a grand adventure of raising alpacas and becoming fiber artists.
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