Sunday, March 15, 2015

Phat Fiber Box: "C'est la vie" themed sampler box + North Star Alpacas review

Well, with my spinning/dying craze going strong, I managed to snag a Phat Fiber sampler box on my first try.  It will be a mixed box with both yarns and fibers, and I look forward to trying them and doing a "little review" type thing for the contributors once I get into their samples.  Speaking of which, I actually had never heard of Phat Fiber until I bought some amazing alpaca roving from North Star Alpacas a little over a month ago.  I first bought the cheapest thing I found- roughly 4 ounces of brown alpaca roving, priced low because it came from an older alpaca and the seller said it was rough for alpaca, similar to most sheep's wools.  But, having just got into spinning and wanting some luxury fibers without the pressure of "don't screw up, this cost a pretty penny," I purchased it anyway.  And I am glad I did.  It turned out to indeed be roving- I had read the difference between top and roving but not quite understood it until I opened my alpaca roving and saw how it differed from the merino and colonial tops I had been working with.
Left: unopened package.  Right: Dyed, spun-up yarn.  You can't really see it on camera- I tried- but it has a nice mottled purple look.

Plus, it came with a little moth-deterrent sachet and a sample of alpaca-tussah silk fiber!  I spun that first and loved it.  I have no idea why people said spinning alpaca was a nightmare, once I figured out it needed more twist that little darling spun itself!
Left: one of the alpaca-tussah sample fibres.  Right:  I'm making a two-single ball to ply from.

I'm in the plying stage of that baby, as you can see.  I'm spinning the brown alpaca and playing with dying it.  It took dye surprisingly well, and it is a little rough, but it only has had 2 or 3 flecks of vegetable matter total despite what the seller said.  And, due to that lovely freebie I immediately overcame my trepidation and bought some truly soft charcoal grey alpaca roving from her shop only 3 days later.  Let me tell you, that roving was SOFT.  And came with more alpaca-tussah fiber, but I did not weight it.  I think the total sample mass was about 1/2 ounce or so.  The grey roving took purple food dye VERY WELL and very evenly, which given what I've read about purple food dye for fiber surprised me.  I expected more of what I got with the brown alpaca, but I got this:
Left: the whole 4 ounces of roving.  Right: The grey roving dyed purple.  Hard to capture, but I promise it's a lovely stormy colour.

So, I loved the purchases I made here.  Do keep in mind however, that the listing photos are not super accurate of the product you get: they are a little washed out.  The brown and grey rovings I got are both very rich, deep colours.  The alpaca-tussah sample does look closer to the listing photo, but more pink in real life.

Anyway, summary points of North Star Alpacas:
  • fast shipping: both days I got the shipping notification only an hour after ordering
  • excellent packaging: fiber not matted or pressed too much, plus little freebie and moth-deterrent sachet
  • caring seller, communicates well to customers
  • photos belie the rich colour quality of the product
  • introduced me to Phat Fiber with the "thank you for buying" message!
  • Will buy again, whenever I need alpaca!  I'm already eyeing the fleeces in her shop!
As for the first spindle shown, it came from Spinerosity and was very affordable, I will post a review soon.  The second came from a local vendor who sells across the United States, Brookmore Creations.  While I was adverse to the flower shape at first, it proved a good place for holding the yarn, not expensive, and a good beginner spindle for me.

Au revoir!