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 5. Alpaca Fiber: End to End
 mildewed fleece
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pawsnpaca

371 Posts

Posted - 09/20/2012 :  7:39:58 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Today I finally got around to skirting my fleeces and discovered that one of my fleeces was apparently wet when it got bagged and has mildewed. Naturally it's one of my nicest fleeces (of course it wouldn't be one of my "rug" alpacas). I'm afraid I know the answer to this questions but... is there any way to salvage it or am I now the owner of a large bag of soft, crimpy garden mulch?

Any way I can even salvage it for something like bird or dryer balls?

If the fleece can't be salvaged, is there any way to at least kill the mildew in my small fleece samples so I can get histograms or have samples for potential buyers?

Or am I just SOL??

Lisa Cadieux
Wit's End Farm Alpacas
Rochester, NH
603-335-2831

sweetharmonyfarm

64 Posts

Posted - 09/20/2012 :  9:05:54 PM  Show Profile  Visit sweetharmonyfarm's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Oh Lisa I'm so sorry! The problem with mildew is that it breaks down the fleece, and quickly. The fiber will just fall apart. :( Does the whole fleece have mildew or just a section of it? You may be able to salvage the unmildewed section.

I too am skirting/sorting my fleeces this week and just about cried when I opened my cria's fleece. I pulled out the mildewed spots, which was probably about 2 large handfuls, so not that much really. Then I went through the rest of the fleece handful by handful pulling locks to be sure they were strong; luckily they are. But the fleece still had a musty smell. I washed a few ounces with probably way too much vinegar in the rinse water and now that it's dry, there's no smell!



Mona Kennedy
Sweet Harmony Farm
Deerfield, NH
603.463.3003
mona@sweetharmonyfarm.com
www.sweetharmonyfarm.com

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Christiane

2779 Posts

Posted - 09/20/2012 :  9:06:17 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
You might want to try the following: (It won't be for fiber samples or shows but...) wash your fiber in a mild detergent or one of those made for natural fibers, dry and then put som bounce sheets in with the fiber when you putit back into whatever container you are going to use. I had good luck with a pair of suede boots that got mildew on them by putting them in the dryer with some bounce sheets. You don't want to put the alpaca fiber in the dryer, but let it dry and then put the bounce in with it. Keeps bugs out and makes it smell good too.

Christiane Rudolf
Tanglewood Farm
19741 Victory Lane
Fayetteville, Ohio 45118
(513) 875-2533
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pawsnpaca

371 Posts

Posted - 09/21/2012 :  08:51:57 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I have a second fleece that I wasn't able to find any mildew "spots" on but it does smell a bit musty. For the really bad one (which does have fairly large areas of mildew)... I'm willing to try washing it, even if after I end up going through handful by handful to make sure it hasn't been weakened anywhere.

Christiane - can you go into more detail about how I can wash the fiber without felting it? I'm not sure I'd want to put the badly mildewed one into my washing machine, so I'm thinking treat it like a sweater and basically "soak" it in the bathtub and agitate it very gently and squeeze to work the soap through and then rinse rinse rinse and then maybe lay it back out on my skirting table to dry? Let me know if there's an easier way.

Do you think putting a dessicant into the fleece with the musty smell but no obvious mildew would help? Will the washing it gets during processing get the smell out? Or should I try to wash that one too?

Any thoughts on how to at least "freshen" the samples? I'd really like to at least get a histogram on the fleece that was badly mildewed.

Lisa Cadieux
Wit's End Farm Alpacas
Rochester, NH
603-335-2831
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Christiane

2779 Posts

Posted - 09/21/2012 :  6:28:09 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Do not put it in the washing machine to wash. Just place it in very warm water with a bit of detergent or whatever you normally use to wash fine woolens. Do not agitate it a lot, just basically wet it down, gently pushing it into the soapy water and then let it sit for about 1/2 hour. Then rinse it gently in water that is the same temperature as the soapy water now is. You don't want to change the temps suddenly, or it will felt. Rinse it twice or until the water shows it is clean. You can then spin dry it in the washing machine and then put it on your skirting table to dry.

This is only for fiber that you will use or send to a mill. It cannot be shown in the washed state. For fiber samples, I would try to pick out the best part you can find that is not mouldy and put the Bounce sheet in with it. Good luck

BTW, I don't store my fleeces in the barn or garage, it stays in the house. You have to make sure when you are shearing, that you do not close up the bags for about a month, so that if there is any moisture, it can go out. Once I see that everything is dry, I put a Bounce dryer sheet in every bag of fleece, and then close them up. So far, I have never had any of my fleeces get a musty or mouldy smell to them, or bugs get into them. I have to add, that my alpacas are clean when they are shorn and only have a very little debris in their fibers. I make sure that there is nothing in their pastures that can get into the fleeces, and after they are shorn, I blow any dust/dirt/debris out of the fleeces while they are on my skirting table. My table folds in half, so that you can completely enclose the fiber and then use a blowdryer to blow the dirt out. All the dirt and dust falls through the 1/2inch mesh of my skirting table. I love it because the fiber also can't blow away on a windy day. It takes only a few minutes to do a fleece, so I don't need a tumbler either. I use a heavy duty cattle dryer called a Circuiteer. I originally got it to blow dry my dogs after a bath, and now use it more for the alpaca fiber.

Remember to keep the temperature even and do not agitate the fiber because that will felt(shrink) it.

Christiane Rudolf
Tanglewood Farm
19741 Victory Lane
Fayetteville, Ohio 45118
(513) 875-2533
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pawsnpaca

371 Posts

Posted - 09/24/2012 :  1:40:19 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Sadly, the fleece that I discovered was mildewed/mouldy was unsalvageable (the mold/mildew was everywhere and the fleece still wet even though we sheared in May). The smell was so overwhelming that I couldn't even bear to put it out on the garden, so it went out with today's trash. The seconds only had one small spot on them so I pulled that out and washed the fleece. It's still drying so I'll have to wait and see how that comes out but hopefully it will be usable. I left the fleece samples I pulled outside in the shade and breeze for a day or two and the smell is much better. All the other fleeces were either fine, or just a bit musty. Hopefully the dryer sheets in the samples and in the other fleeces will take care of any residual smell.

As far as prep and storage... I board all my animals so I rarely have a chance to do much "prep" on them prior to shearing (this year I didn't even make it to shearing, which I guess means I have no right to complain! ). I suspect what happened this year was that a few of the fleeces sat out in their bags in the sun while shearing was happening (and the next day too?) and the moisture condensed on the inside of the bags and then soaked into the fiber. All the fleeces were "noodled" to facilate sorting, which meant reduced air circulation (and less chance to dry) as well. When I took them home they went straight into my guest room. I had planned to have them sorted within a week or so but events conspired to bring us to September before I had a chance to even open the bags. By then it was far far too late to save at least that one fleece...

Anyway, I love Christiane's suggestion about "sandwiching" the fleece and then using a high-powered blow dryer to blow out the dirt and debris. I do own one for my dogs and wish I had thought of that before I did all my "pre-sorting" prep. Ah well, many lessons learned for next year!

Thanks for the help and suggestions. Live and learn I guess...

Lisa Cadieux
Wit's End Farm Alpacas
Rochester, NH
603-335-2831
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ard

1802 Posts

Posted - 09/24/2012 :  2:13:10 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hi Lisa,
This is a really good lesson for all. Thank you for sharing it. Would you also post it on the CIABA site, please? It would be a good lesson there also.
Thanks,

Robin Alpert
Alpacas 'R Diamonds
15163 W 323rd
Paola, KS 66071
913-849-3738
www.alpacanation.com/alpacasrdiamonds.asp, www.alpacastreet.com/alpacasrdiamonds.asp
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pawsnpaca

371 Posts

Posted - 09/25/2012 :  1:38:17 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Sure Robin - I LOVE noodling my fleeces (it keeps it so neat and clean and easy to see how it came off the animal) but I think we do need to be cognizant of the fact that it does reduce how much the fiber can breathe and so we need to be particularly conscientious about making sure the fiber is really dry and stays out of the sun (or anywhere that will cause it to sweat).

Interestingly I had a similar issue with my rovings this year. I picked them up from the mill and then was too lazy to bring them right in, so they sat in the back of my van for a day or so. When I finally went to get them out, I discovered that water had condensed on the inside of the plastic bags. The rovings were in bumps and individually wrapped in colored tissue paper. Thankfully, most of my roving is dark so hopefully nothing got stained, but I made sure everything was dry before I stored it in my guest room again.

Anyway, I'll post my sad saga to the CIABA group as well. Thanks for the reminder.

Lisa Cadieux
Wit's End Farm Alpacas
Rochester, NH
603-335-2831
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Christiane

2779 Posts

Posted - 09/25/2012 :  2:21:51 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I forgot to add to my previous post that you need to put the fiber you have washed into a laundry bag before putting it in the washing machine to spin. I bought several siZes of bags at the dollar store, small ones for small amounts, a large one for larger amounts.

Christiane Rudolf
Tanglewood Farm
19741 Victory Lane
Fayetteville, Ohio 45118
(513) 875-2533
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