Sunday, September 30, 2007

Fiber for Salana's Purse

Lady Belita and Pollux
I have to give some credit here to Lady Belita because she is the girl who donated her fiber for Selana's purse. I smile when I say "donated" because she really doesn't like giving it up. She and her daughter, Celeste, are the only alpacas here who protest when being sheared. She grumbles during the whole process - doesn't spit or kick or anything - just grumbles.

Salana's Alpaca Felted Purse

Selana's Crocheted/Felted Purse

In mid August Selana, from Dortmund, Germany, bought a skein of Lady Belita's yarn that I had dyed a burgundy color. I remember worrying about it running when washed and even mentioned in the listing that it might. When Selana sent me this picture, I asked her, and yes, it did run. After crocheting it, she started to hand felt it but finally got "fearless" and tossed it into the washing machine. Pretty cute, isn't it? The good thing is that she likes (as do I) the color. This was one of my first attempts at dyeing and I was using Landscape dyes which worked well, but I have switched to the Jacquard brand although I don't have a conscious reason.

The purse is listed in her Etsy shop if you want to take a look.

Selana is also a digital scrapbook designer and has a nifty Etsy shop for that. She designs all things digital like cards and scrapbooking stuff.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Jocelyn's Green Alpaca Hat

Jocelyn's Hat
Way back in March Jocelyn was living in Germany. She and her husband were there for about 6 years with a year's detour in Iraq. Germany is where I sent her first two or three yarn purchases. She's back in the States now - Alexandria, Virginia. About the end of August Jocelyn purchased this green yarn that I dyed from Pollux's white fiber. I remember feeling odd dyeing it because even though I love green, I avoid it. I don't even have green dyes and made this from yellow and blue.
I am so pleased that Jocelyn sent me this picture to show you. It's really nice, isn't it? Very unique. There is something very satisfying to see how my yarns end up. It's the mini version of seeing your kids graduate from college......

Friday, September 28, 2007

Teri's Apple Shawl

Remember way back in the middle of September when I posted the apples and the yarn that I dyed for the EtsyFAST monthly challenge? Teri of knitsbyteri bought the yarn and knitted this awesome shawl. Can you see the outlined apples on it? This is her own pattern. Teri started knitting at one hand tip and worked across the back neck edge, increasing across the bottom until the center back was reached and then she reversed the process. I didn't know that we could knit a shawl like this, but then I'm practically a beginner knitter. See her Etsy listing here. Teri was very kind in her listing and gave my shop lots of coverage.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Last weekend was our Michigan International Alpaca Fest at Birch Run, MI. This is a picture of friend, Beth, showing Polaris in his class. Because Polaris's (Lars) fleece wasn't a full 2 inches, he had to go into a "shorn" class. Strangely enough, all the dark fawns that were his age didn't make fleece length.

We were disappointed because in a shorn class, the judge evaluates just the confirmation of the animal and not the fleece. Lars has really lovely, crimpy fleece. He did bring home a fourth place ribbon though.

Beth also showed Orion (Slammy) who is Polaris's full brother - same mom and dad, just a year younger. His competition was way too keen - a class of 15 really nice brown guys.

I am so lucky that Beth is not only an incredibly, awesome friend, but also willing to show our animals. I can do it but actually get physically ill in the show ring....heart racing, stomach upset, blurred vision. Of course, the animal can feel all my tension and gets upset also.
The alpaca shows have a competition called a Spin Off in which exhibitors submit 2 ounces of raw fiber along with a picture and information about the alpaca. A judge then evaluates the raw fleece for: First impression, Staple length, Cleanliness, Lack of second cuts, Lack of guard hair, Crimp, Staple architecture, Uniformity, Fineness, and Hand. Points are given for each category.

Then the judge spins up some of it and evaluates on: Ease of preparation for spinning and Ease of Spinning.

Finally the yarn itself is evaluated for Hand feel, softness of yarn & loft and Brightness. A total of 100 points can be earned.

And the winners are....... light fawn, Celeste, on the left above got a blue ribbon with her 100 points. And brown, Sonata, on the right got a blue ribbon for 98 points.
This is the really big news....... Celeste's fiber got the highest score of all the Huacaya samples submitted. The ribbon with red is sort of like a Grand Champion. She scored 100 out of 100 points. EEEHAW! for Celeste.

Celeste is our goofy girl who makes us laugh all the time. She will sneak up for a mint as soon as she hears the paper crinkle, grab it, and run off. Hopefully, she is pregnant and will have a spring cria.

Monday, September 17, 2007

EtsyFAST is the group that I belong to that promotes Etsy and Fiber Arts. FAST=FiberArtsStreetTeam. Frequently we create a challenge to inspire one another and to just have fun. No prizes or anything. The September Challenge was Apples. I knew that I wanted to do some dyeing for it. The two skeins of yarn above were my creation. I was so pleased and excited to get it into my shop that I didn't even do a final wash. Well, within an hour after posting it on Sunday morning, Teri, who has the Etsy shop knitsbyteri, purchased them. They are going into the mail shortly. Yea Apples! Yea Teri!
If you care at all, this is the yarn that I had Stonehedge spin for me. Stonehedge Fiber Mill is a 139 year old working farm with a custom fiber processing mill that started up in 1999. It is a really fun place to visit in East Jordan, Michigan. Opps, I got off track there. I wanted to tell you about the yarn. It is a blend of white alpaca, Lady Belita, and a Merino sheep who I don't know. The Merino is giving the yarn more memory than it normally has. I have knit some hats from it and am right now doing a cabled scarf, and it's a joy to work with.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

This is our Riley cat in his favorite, come hither pose. If you have read the delightful kids' book, My Big Dog by Stevens and Crummel, you would know Riley's personality. He is definitely Merl, "a very special cat", who tries to rid his home of a Golden Retriever who comes to live with him.
A few years ago we found ourselves house catless with incoming mice. Husband says We must get a cat. Says I Just wait, a cat will find us. I was telling our groomer about the mice invasion and she asked if we would like her Riley, a full grown, neutered, declawed male. And being rather suspicious of any free give away, I asked what was wrong with him. It seems that at night, groomer woman puts her 3 Dalmatians in crates - and Riley spends the entire night, parading, meowing, and jumping on their crates which of course keeps the dogs barking all night.
Riley lives here now and know that his job is to rid us of mice and not to tease our three dogs.

Well, I'm off to dye this morning. I make myself chuckle when I say that.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The top guy here is medium brown, Orion (Slammer). Remember shear day back in May, we gave him this funky hair cut? We called it a show cut. Well, here he is a week before his show.
Dark fawn Polaris (Lars) will also be going to the show. His cut isn't quite so extreme. Today is Lar's 2nd birthday.
♪♫ ♪ Happy Birthday to Lars ♪ ♫ ♪
These two boys are full brothers, same mom and dad. Mom is white Ariana, our very best fleeced girl and dad is Macusani's Chin Chin, a handsome black guy who lives at Luka's Alpaca Ranch down in Jackson, MI. Because they are related like this, they will go into a class together called Get of Dam, where actually their mom is judged even though she isn't there.

Within a month before an alpaca show, the national alpaca organization, AOBA, requires a health exam from a vet for alpacas to be allowed onto the show grounds. Next week is our show at Birch Run, so today Dr. Kristin did the exam on these two guys. Both she and I laugh because basically all she does is take their temperature and fill out a health form - to the tune of a $40 farm call.
Actually, I'm glad that this cursory exam is required because at least runny noses and loose poop is noticed and we sure don't want to be exposed to anything. At the show, another vet will look the 'pacas over and check that their microchips and papers match.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Sharon shawl pattern update. It's available now, all you lace knitters. Pegasus has arrived - only he is called Flight of Fantasy or something like that. Got take a look for yourself at Sharon's Etsy shop.

Monday, September 10, 2007

*****Road Trip Ahead *****

On Wednesday friend Sharon Winsauer and I are traveling to Howell to visit Beth at her store The Spinning Loft. We call Sharon the Queen of Lace Knitting. She has created, published, and is selling many of her patterns. Her latest Dragon pattern is selling all over the world and the very newest, Pegasus, is nearly finished.
I WILL resist all temptations to buy stuff. I WILL leave my credit card home. No, not really. I was just spoofing.
Remember way back in June when I talked about Karen Harbaugh, a spinner and writer?
She sent me this picture of the yarn that she made from Rouge's fiber and some Tussah silk. I love Karen's spinning because it is consistent and well balanced as you can see from the photo. Karen said that she adds the silk while spinning. "I spread out the wool fiber and the silk fiber and place one over the other as I spin"

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

This is a picture of my super horse Ivan. He hangs over his stall door begging for treats whenever we go into the barn. From this stall he can go outside and right now out onto pasture. Ivan looks a little shabby and neglected here. I have never let his mane get so long. He doesn't seem to mind but hasn't been ridden in a year.

EtsyFAST is a group that I belong to that works together to promote Etsy. The FAST stands for Fiber Arts Street Team. We do a themed monthly challenge just for fun, no prizes or anything. The challenge for September was Apples. My thoughts when dying this alpaca roving was Golden Delicious Apples. I striped yellow, red, & just a touch of green and set the colors in my oven.
This yarn turned out really nice. I think that I will not put it into my Etsy shop, but rather enter it into the skein competition at the Michigan International Alpaca Fest in Birch Run at the end of this month. Entries are due by Saturday so need to get it washed and ready to submit.
♪♫♪ Weight Watchers' Weigh In last night.
Woooo, woooo, Minus 2 more pounds ♪♫♪

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Yea! for me! My very first pattern creation! I wanted to come up with a pattern that would be very easy and have a very simple cable. This project is just what I was looking for when I first wanted to learn to do a cable (last winter, by the way). I really like the way that I blended the ribbing and cable up into the crown decrease.
I just listed this in my Etsy store as a kit with either the creamy white Belita yarn or the brown Sonata yarn that Stonehedge blended and spun for me. They added 20% Merino so this yarn should have a little more memory than pure alpaca.