Thursday, May 31, 2007

Abandoned Socks

This is the sock that I'm abandoning to work on my shawl. Did I tell you, the shawl is a blast? I'm waking up in the middle of the night to knit a few rows.
Back to the sock - the match is knitted to the heel and I'm feeling really guilty about starting a new project. All my knitting friends are telling me that it's ok. They have unfinished (UFOs) projects all over their homes. This just doesn't feel right to me. Isn't my sock going to feel neglected and abandoned stuck on those needles in a bag? I'm told that after I have been knitting for a while, I will cope better - and happily, cheerfully, without guilt leave something behind to start a new project.
I'm afraid that I may never come back to these socks. Even though this is alpaca yarn, it's not really nice stuff. I bought it on line because I thought if I really goof on this project, I don't want to use my nice homespun. What I don't like about it: It's not really soft like alpaca should be. It split easily while knitting. And it has guard hairs - yuck! I hate those harsh little buggers sticking out.

Marianne in the Netherlands

Oh, my, I just went visiting some of my blog friends and look what I found on Marianne's blog. Yep, some yarn that she had purchased from me and a picture of Rouge (it is his fiber).
What a huge thrill for me to come across this. I just feel so international and special. Thank you, Marianne.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Starting Faroese Shawl


I have a group of fellow fiber addicts who meet weekly uptown at our local knitting shop, Sip N Knit. A few weeks ago Cary of Serenity Farm suggested that we spin and knit a shawl for a summer project. Looks like we will have about 8 or 9 doing the project. Pam is coming up from St. Johns to join us. Some of the nonspinners are going to purchase their yarn and knit along. We are supposed to start on June 4th. I couldn't wait.......

I immediately got to work spinning this rose gray from Rouge's fiber. Rouge belonged to my friend, Maryanne, but she has sold him to do his studly deeds. Wish he were still around 'cause I will miss not having his fleece available. Fortunately I have about a pound left in the basement. Soooo, I now have about 600 yards spun up and ready to go.

The pattern that I ordered on line is the Follow the Leader Faroese Shawl from Sivia Harding . This is a very easy pattern to work. I have been knitting only two years and can follow her carefully written directions. I am on the shoulder lace band and am having trouble putting it down to do my chores. Is a beautiful sunny day and my flower beds haven't been touched this spring. I just want to knit.

If this turns out without too many obvious mistakes, I will enter it in the Fiber Arts competition at our September alpaca show, the Michigan International Alpaca Fest.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Need Some Color in My Life

I can go just so long spinning my lovely natural colored alpaca and I need a break and absolutely have to get some bright color into my life. The bright colors above are from some Bombyx silk roving that I purchased and handdyed. I was going to use this in with the raw alpaca that I left at Suzanne's mill to be processed, but had plenty so brought it home.
I spun a single adding the silk to Tobasco's fiber as I spun, and then spun another Tobasco single, and then finally spun these two together. Was very pleased when the skein hung perfectly balanced off the winder. I thought the silk single might throw it off.
Tobasco is a reddish brown alpaca, the color of tobasco sauce. He is pictured in the entry below.

I have just about finished the socks that I am making and am sooooo anxious to get started on my shawl. Guess I don't really have to finish them........

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Finished Custom Spinning Order


I just finished and listed in my shop a custom order for Linda. She wanted 300 yards of this blend. I ended up with 3 skeins, one with 104 yards more than she needed. It came out really nice, softer than I expected although it has some Shetland in it. I get really anxious about adding anything to the alpaca because I don't want to take away from it's natural characteristics. This alpaca fiber came from Marianne, well, actually it came from three of her alpacas: Chewbaca, Tobasco, and Weatherby (a Suri). At her mill Suzanne added about 15% Shetland wool. It was very easy to spin and wanted to be rather light weight - DK probably. The 165 yard skeins weighed 2 ounces each.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Newspaper Article

Oh, my, our farm made the front page of the Morning Sun, the local paper that serves the Ithaca, Alma, and Mt. Pleasant area. Great publicity. Link here: if you want to read most of the article. Darn, I can't get this link to work. It will take you to a page that says to link to the Morning Sun and then when you get there, you have to click on Local news, and then "Woman raises alpacas to get wool for business" Really not worth it, friends, unless you happen to be my sister, brother, Mary, Pam, or Marianne. The article isn't complete and doesn't show this picture of me or of me screening fleece, or spinning. I tried to scan it into my computer but this picture is the best that I could get. In the article I managed to get a plug in for our local knitting shop, Sip N Knit, and for the Etsy site.

Granddaughter Overnight

We had the granddaughters for an overnight! Is always such fun and we feel very priviledged that their parents let them stay frequently. The taller one, Meredith, is eight and has always enjoyed my fiber pursuits and being in the barn with me. After we finished walking alpacas, she and I cleaned up her mom's old mare, Abbey. We scrubbed and curried and brushed until Abbey was shining. Of course, Meredith had to braid up her mane. Then we washed all the horses brushes, combs, and currys plus their carry totes and left them on the picnic table to dry. Meredith is learning how to lunge Ivan. For you nonhorsey folks, lunging a horse is standing in the center of a circle with a long line attached to the horse. The horse moves around while obeying walk, trot, canter commands. Meredith is amazed that she can ask this HUGE animal to do something - and he does it.
Five year old Elizabeth who wants to be a vet thinks that the barn is a little smelly. She is quite the comedian and has us smiling and laughing constantly. She did have a mishap yesterday. She wanted to lead Orion (above alpaca). We had told her to hold him tight in case he started acting silly. Well, he did! and pulled her down. Elizabeth held tight and got dragged about ten feet before she let go. Bad Grandma should have realized a 44 pound little girl is no match for a 90 pound little alpaca.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


Just remembered that I have been tagged by Hobbyzu. I need to tell 7 random things about myself and tag 7 more blogfriends. Hmmmmm.

l. I don't like to travel.
2. Appreciate and enjoy my women friends.
3. Shovel manure every day (keeps me humble)
4. Would never buy synthetic yarn (Does that make me a fiber snob?)
5. I keep a dictionary next to my computer 'cause I don't trust spellcheck.
6. Wish I would get the gumption to get on my horse.
7. Have to spin and read every day to be complete.

Now, I think I need to pass this on which I really don't feel right doing......

Huacaya and Suri

I want to try to show the difference between Huacaya alpaca fiber and Suri alpaca fiber. The large picture shows the Huacaya on top and Suri below. Can you see that the Huacaya is fluffy and wavy and the Suri has longer, straight fibers? These straighter fibers are silk like and add luster when blended or spun in with the Huacaya. By the way, we raise the Teddy Bear like Huacaya. The yarn on the right is some that I just finished and put in my shop. It's a blend of my black fiber boy, Berringer, and some black Suri that I bought from a friend.
Husband and I drove to Hastings today to deliver my fleeces to Suzanne PufPaff's mill to magically turn them into the beautiful roving that she produces for us. Suzanne and I had a long conversation, (thank you, patient Husband), about what to put with what. I took some beautiful white, raw Merino wool and hand dyed silk. Then we had to decide what colors go together, what fiber needs a little wool to enhance it, should we put this white with the black to make a gray, where should the silk go, how about adding a little of her Shetland for bounce.... on and on..... I will end up with about 10 different combinations (I think - I didn't write it all down). Now I just smile and dream about all the lovely roving I will have in a couple of months.
Now I'm off to spin up a custom order of 300 yards of really nice gray Huacaya and white Suri.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

For all you friends who shared our concern for the two little boys, Pollux and Orion, they seem to be doing quite well. Both the vet and I think they might have picked up a virus at the show we went to a week or so ago.
This picture is of Polaris, our junior herd sire. He will be going to the fall show in Birch Run. His fiber is awesome so I'm sending it off to be made into roving for spinning.
All 20 bags of fiber have been screened. Yea! I usually do it outside but it has been very windy so used my kitchen table. Three bags (two whites and a brown) were mailed off to Stonehedge in East Jordan, MI today, to be made into yarn. The rest will be roving. I dyed some silk today to add to the roving fleeces, and as soon as it dries, will take it to Suzanne Pufpaff's mill for processing. I'm hanging on to the 2 baby fleeces for myself and my Etsy store.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Sick Little Alpacas

Folks seemed to enjoy these pictures of my Q-Tips so I thought I should add another. Actually, I'm worried about these two little guys today because they both have diarrhea and are just laying around. Their temperatures are a little high - 102.5 - which is high normal range. We gave them a dose of Pepto-Bismo (I don't know how to spell that) and put jackets on them. I don't know if they might have picked up something from the show last week or if they are stressing from shearing - or a combination of both. Will dose them again at noon and keep our eyes on them. Nobody else in the herd seems to have any symptoms but these two are separated from everyone else.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Shear Day

Yesterday was "shear day" I get so excited for this annual event that I can hardly sleep the night before. I so look forward to getting my hands into those bags of fleece, yet I worry about the alpacas stressing while they are being sheared. We lay them on mats on the ground on their side and stretch their legs out. Their legs are tethered to hobbles which are attached to a pole running beside the prone alpaca. A pulley system allows the legs to be stretched out or quickly released. After our shearers clip one side, a team of 3 or 4 gently flip the 'paca to do the other side. While the shearing is going on a team of friends collect the fiber into firsts (prime), seconds, and thirds (which I trash). While they are down, a good friend like Beth will trim their topnotches to keep the hair out of their eyes. Husband Smitty will trim their toe nails, and Dave, the shearer, will check their teeth. Dave uses a rotorary type dremel tool to even up their bottom teeth if they need it and he will nip off any sharp "fighting teeth" with trimmers if they are dangerously sharp. Alpacas do not have top teeth but rather a hard plate for chewing.
I guess that I'm getting carried away telling about this process but it's a big event on the farm. We did ten alpacas at friend Nancy's and twelve here in the afternoon. We are very fortunate to have about ten friends show up to help us.
Now about the picture on top. Doesn't he look like a walking Q-Tip? We gave Orion a fancy show cut because he will be going to a show in September, but Pollux got the standard. We haven't told Pollux yet but he will become a "fiber boy" when he is closer to two years old. He's not quite breeding material.
I have cleaned Orion's fleece shown in the picture and need to get at least one more done today. I like to pick through them out on the deck so that the trash can just fall through. More on fleece cleaning later.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Yarn for Etsy Shop

Because I have a Showcase (an almost front page on the Etsy site) in my store tomorrow, I wanted to do something colorful and special to be featured. This is some alpaca that I had dyed a while back and yesterday I spun into a single. Then I spun up another single of two alpaca blends (one is a Suri), and plyed them together. This yarn was on my mind when I went to bed, couldn't sleep, so got up at 2 o'clock to knit up this little swatch with U.S. # 9 needles. I really like how it turned out and wish that I had a whole bunch more dyed up.
Tomorrow is our shearing day. We will go to a friends in the morning to help shear her alpacas and come back here after lunch to do our ten. Our shearer is Dave Binkowski and his wife, Nancy, has a shop on Etsy.

Monday, May 7, 2007

This is my dear friend, Beth, who shows our alpacas for us. The pictures were taken while she was waiting to go into the show ring. Beth has her horse, Cord, here at our barn. The brown boy on the bottom left is Orion, and the white guy on the upper right is Pollux. Both boys placed 4th in their classes.

The show was great fun and rather profitable as I sold quite a bit of yarn and knitted stuff. I even managed to get a skein of yarn spun up for my Faroese Shawl. I have decided to use Sivia Harding's "Follow the Leader" pattern. It calls for 1100 yards but friend Cary says it will probably take less. I think I will just start knitting it and spin up what I need as I go along.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Alpaca Show and Vet Call

Tomorrow my dear friend, Beth, and I will be taking these two little boys to an alpaca show in Davisburg, MI. The drive will take us a couple of hours which I don't mind but we have to go on I-75, which is an expressway. Hauling a horse trailer on a "big" road will always terrify me, especially if I have some of my 4 legged friends in the back. I'm trying to get organized today because I would hate to forget some important - like the 'pacas or my spinning wheel.

I put an announcement in my Etsy shop that it is closed until Tuesday. I am taking lots with me to, hopefully, sell and would feel terrible if someone ordered an item that I sold. Last year sales at this show were great. I sold several handspun & knitted hats, but it was very cold. This weekend is supposed to be really nice - sunny and in the 70s.

Our vet came yesterday to look at our pony's eye. She stained it and decided that it has some ulcers (sores?). We are using an antibiotic and a steroid ointment in her eye plus a little Bute in her grain. Kelly is being very good about letting me apply the medication but I do have to have Smitty hold her for me. Vet wants to look at her in a week and thinks that it may just clear up.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007
I'm in an Etsy treasury today. Take a look while I try to figure out how to get the pictures here.

Horse talk

Been rather neglectful with my blogging so will add a few notes here. Yesterday was our oldest granddaughter's birthday (we have two). Birthday party on Sunday with other grandparents and cousins. Lots of fun.

This picture is rather old but it is of the birthday girl and Kelly - well, me too. We have known for a few years that Kelly's eyes were failing but in just a week, one eye has completely clouded over and is a whitish opaque. I can't understand why this would happen so fast. We are giving her a little Bute to reduce any inflamation although it doesn't look sore and she's not showing any indication of pain.

We have four horses in the barn who are all on Equine Sr. Kelly, the pony above, is nearly blind; Abbey, 26 year old quarter horse, is doing great but retired; Cord, my friend Beth's 20 something, quarter horse is asthmatic but happy and eager to go for a trail ride; and Ivan, my guy, is standing around getting fat. I really need to start riding again.

This is a picture of us from last summer. Ivan is showing off how well he can bend. All you dressage riders know how important "the bend" is. He would like you to notice that he is using his whole body, not just his neck. Ivan is a Percheron/thoroughbred cross and has been the perfect horse for me. Our experiences together include lots of dressage lessons, a few shows, jumping, camping, trail riding, giving lessons together, and just hanging out learning stupid horse tricks. He has an incredible sense of humor. When we give a lesson, if the student doesn't use his/her hands, legs, and seat correctly, Ivan will just go to a corner and stand. No amount of prodding will get him to move until all the rider's body parts are lined up.

I will probably talk more about the horses as time goes on because they are a very big part of my life. Right now I need to go spin because I ordered some awesome Faroese Shawl patterns from Margaret Pittman > <> I am spinning the lovely rose gray fiber from Rouge. Have about 300 yards done but think I will need about 700.

Dang! I cannot get my pictures to stay where I put them. Need to figure this out.