Thursday, December 16, 2010
Decided I needed to try something other than my own alpaca for spinning. As an alpaca farmer, I wanted to start with and learn to spin alpaca. Now that I'm a little bit confident with the alpaca, I wanted to stretch out to something new. It seemed that with the superwash I was getting either too much spin or not enough.
Shelley worked with me a little at the shop, helped adjust the tension and assured me that I was not getting too much spin, and I think I've got it! The yarn will be a somewhat laceweight mixture of blues, greens, yellow! I'm planning on making myself a pair of socks.
Anyway, back to the yarn shop: Marissa is a great knitter, especially of children's clothing. Shelley has knit some yummy sweaters and she recently got into dying. Yesterday in her shop, she showed me a shelf full of new yarn she spun (from her own dyed fiber).
And, some of my alpaca yarn is on consignment at the shop. On display there will also be two of my knitted projects--I took in a new entrelac scarf I made with my own Big Meadow Creek Alpaca yarn and some Cascade Eco alpaca (that I really don't like that much--one-ply, feels more like a lopi--but it is soft). The scarf is "fancied up" with some crocheted corkscrew fringe--I should have taken a picture! I also took in a lace hat made with some of my four-ply alpaca.
Now that the Christmas season is coming to a close, I might get back to knitting something for myself. I started an alpaca sweater two years ago that is 80 percent complete! It doesn't look like much in this picture I took--I guess in the summer of 2008! Definitely time to get that project finished!
Sunday, November 21, 2010
I just ordered the new book by Gwen Bortner, Entree to Entrelac--I'm sure that will give me some new ideas.
In the meanwhile, last night I picked up a skein of 80% alpaca/20% silk "Paca de Seda" (imported from Peru) in some great autumn colors and started a quick and dirty Quant, which will be soft and silky, yet warm--a great combination (alpaca and silk)!
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
My church has an annual "Quilt Sunday" on which the PPQ (the Purple Paisley Quilters) display quilts, serve brownies, and have a service based somehow on quilting. Yes, quilting--but since so many of us PPQ folks are ceaseless knitters as well, the talk I gave a couple of years ago focused on the way both quilters and knitters are workers for social justice. It doesn't take much investigation to find out that knitters use their artistic talents to provide comfort and warmth to premies, cancer survivors, soldiers, the elderly, etc.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
After my brother introduced me to alpaca and alpaca fiber, I would say, "When I retire, I'll buy a spinning wheel and learn to spin alpaca." Well, inheriting the alpaca farm sort of forced me to retire (I was of the age, anyway, but loved my job . . . ). And I did buy a spinning wheel--almost a year ago! Although I had friends who said "start with wool--it's easier," I was determined to start with my own suri alpaca fiber. I mentioned this in an earlier post.My beginnings weren't pretty--in fact, I tended not to bring my wheel when my spinning/knitting/weaving friends got together weekly because I felt so pathetic. But I brought it enough and had friends enough who gave me advice and encouragement--I thank them! Fern showed me the magic triangle! Cathy D said, "Someday you will be able to spin, look around, and talk--all at the same time!" And she was right!!
I spun my first skein of white suri alpaca from roving that I had (I still have to work from the raw-carded-on-my-own-fleece). Then, because another friend Margo was teaching us some dying, I put the yarn into a vat of indigo dye--once, and then only half of it a second time.
Then I got out my knitting needles and ta-da! my own suri alpaca hand knit lace scarf! The fiber came from BMCA Jean Brooke--one of the earliest alpacas born on the farm and named for one of my Girl Scout leaders (BMCA Jean Brooke and BMCA Elinor deserve another entry some day!).
I've spun three skeins now--Jean's, Fiorano, and Leroy (see an earlier post). I'm finishing another skein of Leroy into which I'm introducing some greenish/gold dyed mohair (see my earlier post on Leroy). I'm hoping to knit a sweater for my granddaughter from the skeins of Leroy, since she "owns" him--with the best of intentions, it will be a Christmas gift this year! I should be spinning and knitting now!!
Sunday, October 24, 2010
On two different Saturdays this month, I hosted Girl Scouts--a local troop from Moscow, ID, and one from Spokane, WA. I was ready to greet the girls and leaders with two of my yearling girls haltered--Leyla, my black yearling who loves to get petted and will give kisses, and Madison, a white girl who is almost as friendly. "How cute they are!" was the first thing the girls said on climbing out of the cars.
The girls took turns leading Madison and Leyla as we walked to visit the yearling boys' pen. Naturally, the favorite was Miguel (below). They looked at alpaca's feet (which have soft pads and nails, like dogs') and in their mouths (which have teeth in front only on the bottom with a plate on top). Then we walked up to the adult females and provided them with alfalfa treats. The girls thought their hands were being tickled as the alpacas gently took the treats from outstretched hands with their top lips.
The girls were able to learn that alpacas, while not llamas, are in the same family of camelids. Kathryn, the llama, was happy to get some treats, as were the bigger herdsires. They were able to pick out the one huacaya alpaca in the herd (in the picture to the right--the caramel colored girl with white chin and a "do"!) They thought that Leroy, the gelding, had true attitude as he kept his ears back until they held out treats for him!
After the girls searched for eggs and admired the young pullets, they gathered around two tables in the garage and made zipper pulls with felted alpaca fiber balls. I had dyed the alpaca fiber earlier with Kool-Aid (see the picture below). One of the girls said the purple fiber still smelled like grape! They used needles, beads, embroidery thread, glue, and sequins to decorate their projects.
They learned about how fiber is made into yarn and got to see what suri fiber looks like when it has been sheared off the alpaca and is ready to skirt (clean out the veggie matter and short pieces) and to turn the carder.
The girls had cake and lemonade and they made me a gift of Girl Scout cookies. How I remember the days when I sold them! They got an alpaca maze, some alpaca puzzles and an information sheet to take home.
We made a tour of my garden where they picked and ate fresh green beans, gathered crookneck squash and tomatoes to take home. One of them remembered how I had offered them each a ziplock back of alpaca poop!to take home, since it is such great fertilizer. We tramped up to the manure pile and the youngest girls had a great time dancing on top of the manure pile--you never know what might really capture the attention of your visitors!! We all enjoyed ourselves!
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Monday, October 4, 2010
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
was wet and windy--I was in the garage skirting fleeces and looked out at my Dodge Ram that was parked in front of the garage. This male bluebird was flirting with himself around the side mirror. He hopped all around it, hanging on the door, sitting on the mirror. I learned from a good birder friend of mine that bluebirds (and robins, he said!) have this habit--they are acting aggressively toward another bird in their territory! At one point during the afternoon (because this went on and off quite a few hours), I saw the female sitting on the Dodge roof--"What a silly male," she seemed to be saying!
On another day when I was down at the pen of weaned crias, down at the edge of the woods, I saw another pair (or the same pair?) I had recently purchased some beautiful handcrafted bluebird houses from a friend of mine, and I got them up as soon as possible. I haven't seen any action around the birdhouses yet, but it's been so miserable, when I go out to feed the alpacas, I get it done as soon as possible and get back inside!
The hummingbirds are back, too! Saw some flitting around the back porch and so put out the feeders, but the feeders are emptying in the high winds. The kingfisher is back, checking out the spawning goldfish in the pond. The dreaded flickers have been back and we've already had to seal up some holes they made. I've had someone knocking on my front door and ignored it, thinking it was the flickers back at the grouting between the logs! They are attractive, but cause too much damage for me to enjoy them.
Looking out the window--it's snowing again! But the Ren Fair is over and Mother's Day is coming--maybe we'll get some sunshine again!