This week on the farm, we have been working on processing the third cutting of the alpaca into wool dryer balls. When animals are sheared, there are different sections that are cut. The first cutting is the back of the animal. This is called the blanket. The blanket is the part of the animal that has the most staple length and is the most usable for yarn. The blanket is also the part of the animal that would be used for showing and measuring microns.
The legs, head, and trimmed sections that some people consider throw away fleece is what is considered third cuttings. They are trimmed last and you get a lot less of them. These cuttings are still very useful! I make them into wool dryer balls and they are perfect for felting. Felt quality doesn't change by the micron count or the staple length of the yarn. You can turn any part of the animal into felt. I take the thirds of every animal and make felt first and then I move onto seconds. Seconds are typically way more useful for yarn and sometimes can be very fine and very great. Each animal's fiber can vary greatly by an incredible amount of factors for usability so I do not use all of the second fiber for this purpose but our older boys' fleece that needs a purpose.
We typically have three or four garbage bags full of third cuttings every year that I turn into wool dryer balls. Each dryer hall takes about 15-20 minutes to make by hand. I use a process called wet felting which incorporates soap and water and rigorous rubbing to create the finished product.
To finish them off, we finish them in the dryer for what feels like an extremely long time until they are tight and felted. I scent mine with lavender essential oils which leaves the house smelling amazing.
Thanks for reading today! I will be posting the wool dryer balls for sale in August with my product release of the year.