Friday, March 30, 2007

Homefront Update Before Trip

Our girl, Ariana, seems to be fine. We are still watching her closely. Vet Russ drew blood from her to check her progesterone level which should tell us if she is holding her pregnancy.

I'm so excited. Tomorrow I am picking up our youngest daughter (thirty something), and we are driving to Pennsylvania to stay a couple days with my son, Rob. He teaches at Scranton University and we get to see him only a few times each year. As you can tell from the picture of him and Babe, he too is an animal lover.
I left an announcement that I will be gone in my Etsy shop. Hope that doesn't stop anyone from making a purchase.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Barn Crisis

This morning while I was cleaning the barn, I looked out and Ariana was laying down, flat out on her side in the pasture. This is unusual behavior for our alpacas. I called the girls into the barn, and Ariana continued to act strange. She was up and down, stretching out on her side, looking at her belly, and did this hiccupy, spasm thing once. Horse folks will recognize these as colic symptoms.

I was afraid she was losing her cria, she's not due for 6 more months. (Gestation for alpacas is roughly 11 months). I ran in and called our vet who was here in about 20 minutes. When he arrived, Ariana was perfectly normal. Russ did a thorough exam and couldn't find anything wrong. He suggested that she might have choked which is fairly common in alpacas. Maybe because of their long necks. He drew some blood to have on hand in case we need it for diagnostic purposes and gave her a shot of Banamine to relax her and reduce any inflammation she may have.

I will continue to check on her throughout the day. Lucky for me, I can see all the alpacas out my kitchen window.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Grandgirls' Weekend

Knitting update - thought I needed to teach myself how to knit cables, so what started out as a pair of legwarmers, became this hat. Used a double strand of Alpaca With a Twist's Fino yarn and size 7 circular needle.

What fun! We had the granddaughters for the weekend. Their dad is the doctor for MSU's hockey team which played in a tournament Friday and Saturday in Grand Rapids. State WON! He and our daughter had to go so we got to care for the girls. Meredith, on left, got about a foot woven on my loom while younger sister, Elizabeth, played on the computer.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Lace Knitting Workshop

What a wonderful two days spent at Kathy Kukla's home in Jackson, MI. Sharon Winsauer (in white, on right, in pict.) did a lace knitting workshop for twelve of us that was fantastically fun. Lace knitters probably know of Sharon. Her latest shawl design, "Heere Be Dragone" is selling worldwide. Sharon has an Etsy shop that you must take a look at. The middle woman is Michelle Waling and her shop is Check her out also for some wonderful alpaca products. Yes, we are all great friends brought together through our alpacas. Oh, and that's me on the left.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Wet Barn Morning

I mentioned a couple days ago that we moved these two little guys from their moms. It rained, thundered, and lightninged most of the night. When I went to the barn this a.m., the weaning pen had water standing in it. Yuck! Can you see how wet Pollux (on right) is? I set up a make shift pen on dry cement with some extra panels that we have. As you can see, little Orion is all cushed down and comfortable, but Pollux is all nervous. I think they enjoyed watching me cleaning the horses stalls. Those stalls had standing water also so I had to shovel them out and put in clean, dry sawdust.

My husband worked this morning. He's a retired high school principal but supervises student teachers for Central Michigan University. I got to cope with this mess myself. I'm tired, wet, cold, and stinky. I'm going to take a warm shower and then spin while I watch The View.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Dyeing Day

My friend, Mary, came over today to do some fun dyeing. The pink and white is some of the raw merino fleece squirted with dye and heated in the microwave. The top left which doesn't show up but came out beautiful was my first experience with crockpot dyeing. I soaked the alpaca roving in vinegar and water, spun it out in my washing machine, then layered it into my crockpot. On each layer I would sprinkle dry, dye powder using plum, marine, and raspberry. I simmered it about 2 hours and am very pleased with the results. Will definitely do this again.
The pale colors in the left pictures are a light fawn alpaca (Beau) rainbow dyed and processed in the microwave.
The center picture of Mary shows her adding dyes to her sheep roving which we microwaved for about 5 minutes. Mary is a fellow spinner and excited for this roving to dry to see how it spins out. (She will probably kill me for putting her picture in here.)

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Merino Lamb Fleece

Oh, my! Look what I received in the mail yesterday. Three pounds of beautiful Merino Lamb Fleece. I have never seen sheep wool as clean and beautiful as this. It has hardly any lanolin in it. I hope all the little crimpies show up on your monitor. It came from the McMurray family in Franklin, MO. I originally ordered it to mix with my alpaca after spring shear. Now, I just don't know. Should I card it up? Dye it? Blend it? I think I will just wait and I'm sure it will speak to me to tell me what to do. I'm enjoying just looking at it on my kitchen table.

Weaning is going well but it makes me feel badly to hear Pollux calling for his mom and pacing the fence. He can see her but she just ignores him.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Weaning Day

Today was weaning day for these two little darlings. Pollux, on the left, was born last May, and Orion was born in September. You might know, Pollux, four months older, is doing the most moaning for mom. I guess I'm not surprised because his mom, Lady Belita, is a timid girl. Orion has much more confidence. We nicknamed him SLAMMER because he was always charging into the big girls. The moms aren't upset at all. In fact, I think they are quite relieved. We will have to check moms occasionally to watch for mastitis but I think they had pretty much taken care of the nursing process.
My town, Ithaca, had a Women's Day today in the shops uptown. Our knit shop, Sip-N-Knit invited me and some friends up to spin. Is so much fun to explain to people what we are doing. They act like it's a magic show. I managed to get two ounces spun up while visiting.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Weaving Progress

Two weeks ago I bought my first loom. Definitely used, probably 40 or 50 years old. The brass plate on it says it is a Kessenich Loom and was made in Wisconsin. I researched a little and these looms are now made here in Michigan. Even though it was folded up when I first saw it, my heart connected and knew it was for me.

Thought my first project should be something simple and a rug seemed suitable. Besides, what a great way to use up some of my alpaca seconds in roving form. As you can see here, I have only woven about a foot. The rovings are bothersome to get into the shed because they have to be done by hand. I get impatient. Am now switching back and forth between roving and handspun seconds.

Warping was a challenge. Thanks to Deborah Chandler's Learning to Weave book with her step by step directions, I managed - somehow. My seven year old granddaughter, Meredith, helped me thread the heddles. She was way more patient than I. That's Meredith on my Louet wheel. I'm thinking my fiber passion may have skipped a generation. Her little sister, Elizabeth, is behind.
I have 150 yards spun of the 700 yard order so maybe today, for a break, I will weave.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Gloomy Spinning Day

Last night I finished up that lovely Beau fiber that I was spinning and got it in my Etsy store. Decided that I needed a break from conventional, consistent, balanced yarn and carded up some brown, green and pink fiber that I had in the basement. It's mostly my alpaca but has some Tussah Silk that I purchased from Castle Fibers on Etsy. Was so much fun to spin that I just stayed with it, finished, and listed it in my store also. Is hanging up drying right now.
Received a spinning order for about 700 yards of gray. I discovered that I had just enough of Rouge's baby fleece left to fill this order. It is going to be awesome yarn but a little slow because of the VM (vegetable matter). Cria fleeces are typically a little dirty. The fiber is so fine that hay, straw, anything... sticks like velcro.
Stayed close to home today because my Golden, Cassie, has an upset stomach. After giving her some PeptoBismol she seems much better.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Day in the Barn

Well, the vet just left. We microchipped the little boys and drew blood for BVDV tests. Everything went well. My friend Beth has done lots of work with these boys getting them ready for the big world so they weren't traumatized at all with the handling and vet work.

We also immunized the four horses so they are good for a year. One of them, Abbey, is going to need some dental work when Russ comes back next month. The horse in the picture is my guy Ivan carrying one of the granddaughters.

Is a beautiful 65 degree, sun shining day. Was nice to sit at the picnic table and chat for a while.

Monday, March 12, 2007

First day at blogging

I guess the best way to start this blogging is by just jumping in with what's on my mind.

Tomorrow our vet is coming to implant microchips into two babies (cria). This isn't really a very scary thing anymore. He, the vet, has this needle like thing holding the chip and he injects it in the back of the alpaca's head. Usually, the little darlings don't even jump. In order to go to an alpaca show, they all need to be chipped. These two, 6 month old, brown Orion, and 10 month old, white Pollux have a show coming up in May. We have been working on halter training these two and they are coming along very well. To make it interesting to them, we walk down the road, through poles on the ground type mazes, over a bridge, and even take them over little jumps that we make from the horses jumps.

I am half way through a skein of beautiful light fawn alpaca fiber from an alpaca named Beau. This is awesome fiber to spin. The term "spins like butter" certainly applies here. I will list it in my Etsy shop as soon as I finish.