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To give folks an idea of preparing for processing...
Author: Someday Farm Alpacas
As the spring shearing season is upon us, I thought I would write this note with some things to consider in planning your processing as well as update you on some minimum order sizes and give an example of processing prices.
1. Please consider skirting in order to get the most from your fiber. The key items on your skirting checklist should be the following:
a. Short and/or Uneven Staple Length: Some mills carding and spinning equipment handles fiber lengths of 3 to 6 inches. Large variations in fiber length may cause thick and thin areas within the yarn. Short "second cuts" that are caused by shearing back over an area already cut, will also create thick and thin areas as well as weaken the yarn. Please take care with your shearing to avoid uneven staple length as well as second cuts.
b. Long Staple Length: Overgrown fleeces -- over 6 inches -- must be cut prior to carding. Cutting causes much higher processing losses. It is a hand process and mills can increase their pricing for this. Please see below.
c. Vegetation: Most vegetation can be removed either in the carding process or for those cases that have excessive vegetation, our dehairing equipment (known as the fiber separating machine) does an excellent job turning some of your otherwise "hopeless" cases into a beautiful product. We suggest that you allow us to be the judge of whether an order needs dehairing. It is a very slow process so some mills may not like to do it unless they have to. But there is usually an additional charge for dehairing. Please see the rate card example, below. Unfortunately, some mills cannot process fleeces with a high quantity of burrs. The dehairing equipment will smash the burrs and then it stays in the fiber. Burrs require removal by hand. So remove all burrs prior to sending your fiber.
2. Some mills may only have a few yarn weights. Although most prices have remained the same, increases may occur for skeining and cutting fees. In addition, some mills may have a minimum per run charge (example): $150 per run for spun yarns and $ 75 per run for carding into roving or batts.
a. Pack individual lots separately in plastic bags and marked (either with a card inside or securely taped to the outside of the bag) with a name or number by which you would like the mill to refer to the lot.
b. To save on shipping costs, you can remove excess air in the bags and fit more bags in each box. However be sure to use good quality strapping tape as a heavy box might otherwise burst open in shipping. Last year this happened! A box on its way to a mill did exactly that -- split open somewhere in a UPS warehouse. A bag of fleece fell out of the box ending up on the floor! Fortunately there was a business card inside the bag and UPS returned the bag of fiber to the customer who was very confused to get back unprocessed fiber, but very happy when she learned that it wasn't lost for good! Be sure to number each box (e.g., "1 of 3", "2 of 3", etc.). Verify your shipping address and get those fleeces in the mail!
c. Before sending your order, either phone or send an email to the mill to let them know when and what you are sending. This will allow them time to put your order on the production schedule even before it arrives, which helps some keep lean turn around times.
3. How to ship your fiber: Verify if they require special order forms, advance payment or reservations. However, if you are planning on paying by credit card, you should coordinate that probably over the phone with them...include the card type (Visa or MC), name on card, account number, expiration number and billing zip code with your order to expedite the return of your finished order.
Example of a Rate Card (Effective April 1, 2005): Note: All rates include washing.
Roving or Batts: $15 per lb
$28 per lb for med to bulky weights on cones
$30 per lb for fingering weight on cones
Dehairing: $5 per lb added to the roving or batt charge
Skeining: $4 per lb
Cutting overgrown fleeces (>6"): $10 per lb
Please let me know if I can answer any questions or advise you in planning for your fiber processing. We look forward to working with you again.
The Fibre Company finely crafted in the Maine tradition
Someday Farm Alpacas
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