Rubber band separated groups of locks (2-3 per bundle).
Gently finger loosen each lock of hair. Pull out any big pieces of hay and dirt.
Set each tied lock aside. I chose to do all of mine at once and place it in the washing bin temporarily. When I was done loosening, I removed the hair from the bin and used it to wash. Wash in SMALL batches.
NOTE: On my couch you can see my Boar Bristle brush! A MUSH HAVE for alpaca!
Again, ignore the lack of rubber bands. Yours should still have them in at this point.
HOW TO WASH:
Prep your wash area. Have ready your shampoo, conditioner, a towel to lay wet locks on, a drying rack and a towel for your hands as grabbing dry hair with wet hands is messy so you will get a lot of stray pieces on you and will probably want something to smear them off on. DO NOT rinse them down your sink. They add up big time and will create clogs.
ALLOW YOURSELF A LOT OF TIME. This experience requires time and patience. I personally find it cathartic as I thrive in tedium. This may NOT be the task for you. Be prepared for that before you begin.
Only place a few locks in at a time to prevent tangling. Wash in batches. Keep the locks in the rubber bands.
Fill your chosen receptacle with enough TEPID water to cover your locks. DO NOT use hot water as you will felt the hair (Ball it up into one huge clump that is permanently ruined).
Put the shampoo or chosen soap (Dawn for some) in the water AFTER the receptacle is full and BEFORE you put in the hair. This prevents a mass amount of annoying bubbles that block your view of the hair. Gently slosh the soap and water around with your hand to mix. THEN put in your locks, gently and one at a time. I do about 5 per batch. Hold the top of the lock in one hand and the bottom in the other and place them in the tub.
Let the hair soak for about 5 minutes. Then GENTLY kinda wave the locks from side to side in the water. GENTLY. Like seaweed at the bottom of the ocean on a calm day. DO NOT agitate.
Pick out the big chunks of hay n’ dirt.
Fill your palm with a healthy goober of conditioner. Lift out a lock and gently finger comb while smearing and smoothing the conditioner into the hair. The conditioner helps to remove tangles to that dirt and debris come out a lot easier, and also make the hair softer when it’s dry. After finger combing and detangling, carefully return the lock to the tub, laying them flat and straight on the bottom. Repeat with another.
Unfortunately, I do not have a picture of my hair IN The water as I forgot to take a picture of the most important part! I got on a roll. When I do this again I will add the picture.
When all the locks have been detangled and cleaned, gently rinse them in the seaweed manner previously explained.
Individually remove each lock from the tub and set aside. When the entire batch is done, dump out your water and fill with tepid water WITHOUT the soap this time, to rinse.
Rinse in the seaweed manner.
Individually remove and lay your washed locks out to dry. Leave them be!
I like to lay them all on a towel first and then I roll the towel over them and GENTLY press the water out, then I lay them flat on a rack to dry.
When they are dry, repeat the entire process. It usually takes 2 or 3 washes. The reason is because you can only gently soak, not agitate the hair so you need to do it a few times to get them clean. It can take MANY washes, so be patient!
I should also note that this took me 2 full days. I would soak, wash, soak, rinse, dry, repeat.
BIG TIP: Don’t over-wash as you can wash out the natural oils in the hair and it becomes dry, unmanageable and ugleh :(
PLEASE if you have experience with this: COMMENT! Feel open and free to add advice and fill in whatever I am missing.
PLEASE also note that other people may have their own way of doing things. This was my way.
It was requested that I tell you guys how to brush alpaca. First off you should know that you CANNOT brush curly mohair and similar types of fibres. Just appreciate them for what they are.
Ok, so with the alpaca fibre, I NEVER brush it until it is already knotted and loop/locked into my dollies scalps. Otherwise you just lose absolutely everything you have. Imagine cutting a chunk of your own hair off and brushing it. All you would succeed in doing is making a huge mess and taking the hair from one spot and putting it in another: The hairbrush.
If you, for some reason, feel that you absolutely must brush the alpaca before you use it -which I highly recommend not doing, I can’t stress this enough- then you can do what I did on my TEST piece (only because I was curious to see what it would like like all clean and finished on my doll). Take the clean and dry elasticized alpaca -DRY. ALWAYS DRY. NEVER brush wet fiber. EVER. In any way, shape or form! – and twist the elastic end around your finger to secure it. Hold it OMG super tight so that EVERY single piece is clamped in your fingers. Then brush it ever so gently without letting go. Ever. I used a variety of brushes. Sometimes I needed ‘this’ one for big knots or ‘that’ one for the hay and bits… In all I have: A wide tooth comb, a boar bristle brush and a fine tooth comb. I usually start with the wide tooth comb then smooth with the boar bristle. Gently.
Just a tip: Save the stuff you brushed out for stuffing pet toys ( dogs go NUTS for animal fibre!!) or for birds and squirrels to use for nesting material! I sprinkle mine under trees that have squirrel nests. It’s fun to see the bits sticking out here and there around the neighborhood!