Alpacas are shorn each spring leaving them with short wool in the summer and plenty of time to grow out their coats again for winter. Depending on the density of the alpaca’s fleece, anywhere from 3 to 10 pounds of fleece are removed. But before all of that fiber can be sent off for processing into yarn, it has to be skirted.
Skirting is the process of removing course fiber, dirt, and short fiber called second cuts. We rolled each shorn fleece in craft paper when it came off the alpaca in spring. This allowed the fleece to remain flat until it was time for the skirting table.
This skirting table was custom made for my waist height, and it rotates to make it easier to move the table top as I remove any fiber that is not part of the premium quality fleece.
The second cuts, which are removed because of their coarser quality, will be milled into a yarn suitable for rug or hat making.
The skirted premium fiber will be sent off for processing into a fine yarn suitable for apparel.