When I spun with raw alpaca (suri too actually) it was easier to maintain the locks on the parts I hadn't washed; no matter how gentle I was with it, the washed fleece got a little tangled. Your hands will probaby get grubby, and I'd put a cloth under your hands as you worked, but I had success washing out the dirt after spinning.
I found alpaca could take more of a beating when washing than wool would- while I wouldn't tempt fate by being really rough, sloshing it around in a lukewarm sink a little didn't harm what I was working with.
What stopped me from working with what I had were the burr's- last time I buy fleece over the internet from a seller I haven't worked with before.
Some methods of drafting can also effect the softness of the finished product; with a long draw my FO is loftier and feels softer, but it is also less resistant to roughing up.
Are you spinning on a wheel or a spindle? If on a wheel, see if you can't go to a larger whorl. Also, at least initially you might want to treadle slower and see if you can reduce the twist needed. There should be a halfway point between a very tight twist and falling apart- see if you can find it. If on a spindle, maybe the reason you have so much twist is becuase your spindle is too heavy for what you are wanting to do with it?
Of course, there are times when a tight twist is really useful, and like Gypsy said, plying balances it out.
I find charts easier to use as I can be reading the knitting below the current stitch I am working on as I go, to make sure all is working out. Of course, YMMV, but it might be worth trying a short, charted lace repeat- even as a swatch with no purpose (so the columns don't bother you) to warm you up, or some facecloths for christmas presents.
Are you continuing to knit/ purl into the appropriate stitches? One of the most useful skills to acquire is to 'read' your knitting, and being able to differentiate between k/p is relatively simple.
Though I'm sure we all have our own ways, I think of the knit stitch as the "forward" look, and the purl as the backside; knit stitches look like the typical interlocking V and create the "forward" look, and when you knit you are throwing the backside away from you. When I encounter one of the bumps, or "backsides" of the stitch, I know I need to purl.
If you knew all this already, sorrry .
I can't remember from when I knit this, but depending on where the short rows are you may need to k/p 1 and then continue in pattern; perhaps if you need to turn halfway through one of the rib columns.
EvilTadpole, I don't have that much experience with corsets, but I imagine that you could either start with a pattern that fits your specs, or else lengthen/ shorten an existing pattern, like that Danish generator linkie which is lurking around I am sure, but I just can't find (sorry).
I am not sure which are the key measurements which you need to base your alterations around though, but I am sure that one of the more experienced women here will be able to help you much more effectively than I have .
What would be more important would be the US page, as countries are usually more careful with things coming into their borders, though I couldn't see and restrictions on wool products. http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/home.xml
As long as it is cleaned and has (no) vm in it, I can't see a problem, but make sure she declares.
When I flick open a lock, I grab it by the end and brush out the other end, effectively opening it out and clearing it of any left over VM. I then turn it and do the same to the other side. This means that instead of having a condensed lock, it is much more open and easier to spin.
To clarify, I don't prep my fleece into any kind of batt, but spin from my little opened out lock of wool. Its probably closer to spinning from prepared tops rather than batts in that all the fibres are pointing in the same direction; you just need to be aware of when the beginning and end of the lock is so you can keep up a continuous flow of fiber.