Thursday, October 16, 2014

Alpaca Micron Grade Ranges and Best Uses

I am often asked as a skirter/sorter/grader on what is the best use for a particular micron count.  Here are the ranges I sort/grade into and their best use.   

The human eye can only see about a 2 micron difference, so of course this is a guide and the more you sort, the better you become at sorting. The key is to have batches of fiber of no more than 3 micron difference or more than 1/2 inch difference in staple length for the best yarn.   

This is my chart that I developed over the years and is pretty typical of commercial grading.   Please DO NOT copy the chart.  You may link to the post or refer to it for personal use.  

I made a cheat sheet years ago by starting with OFDA tested fiber in different microns and have that sheet with the representative fiber sitting next to me as a guide when I grade.   

Fiber that has a lot of guard hair that is markedly different than the primaries in micron is batched differently and not mixed with the pure grades.  

Grade Name AFD (Microns) Use
1 Ultra Fine (Royal Baby) less than 20 Next to skin items, gentle use
2 Super Fine (Baby) 20-22.9 Gentle use items – shawls and baby items
3 Fine 23-25.9 Most versatile grade - pretty much anything wearable
4 Medium 26-28.9 Socks, throws, outerwear and felt
5 Intermediate 29-32 Quilt Batting, duvets, outerwear and felt
6 Robust greater than 32 Batting, insulation and rugs

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