Sunday, February 15, 2009

10 Things I've Learned From Judging Alpaca - So Far

1. Those cleanliness points? They really DO matter. When I started, I thought it was rather ridiculous that a full 10 points was devoted to cleanliness - especially as vital things like crimp and staple only receive 5. Now I know better. Nothing kills the process like a sample of alpaca loaded with dirt, veggie matter and/or poo.

2. Check that, one other thing kills the process, and that is scent. Wow. I worked on an otherwise fantastic sample today that was giving off a rancid, nastiness so bad that all I could think was please God, let's get this one done fast so that I can put it back in the bag!

3. You can learn a lot about the owner of the alpaca by how the fiber is presented. Generally speaking, the cleaner and more neatly packed the sample the better the conditions the alpaca is likely to live in. I'm making a broad assumption here (the samples come to me completely blind), but I'd be willing to bet the farm on it.

4. Also, the better the presentation the more likely the owner is to be concerned about their fiber business.

5. There is a marked difference between each of the color groups. Again this is just a guess, but I think certain characteristics - such as crimp - are probably carried along with color genes. Some colors have more guard hair than others, some have markedly better crimp, and some tend towards a better hand. It's very interesting!

6. Along with that, I'm guessing that white tends towards a certain consistency because breeders have worked to develop it so that they have an easily dyed fiber.

7. Just because a sample has some fantastic qualities doesn't necessarily mean it will spin well. Vice versa, samples that score lower can surprise you and be a delightful spin. You should never make assumptions about anything.

8. There's no point in showering or dressing before doing this job. No matter what, you end up covered in veggie matter and smelling like alpaca - which is never pleasant. Bless my husband, he's had to deal with a scraggly, stinky wife since this started - and he has at least another two weeks to go.

9. It turns out that being a spin-off judge is a remarkable dieting tool. As my BKB said, you just don't want to touch food when you've been handling stinky fiber all day and are filthy yourself! On a serious note, though, it is exactly what I needed to distract myself from the constant attention to all of my food issues, and I'm grateful for that. I'd much rather worry about a work deadline than my waistline!

10. I have found that I am considerably more productive now that I'm operating with a 'work' schedule. It's forced me to be considerably more focused in every other aspect of my life, and so I'm getting more done than I would have thought possible.

Twoish more weeks to go!

1 comment:

Bonnie said...

Hmm, doesn't sound like a fun job--at least the odors/poo part doesn't! Hope the next two weeks fly by!