Monday, January 28, 2008

Present for my Spinning Wheel

Just look at the darling practical ornament that I bought for my spinning wheel. She has quite a collection now. A handknit alpaca, a dreamcatcher, a wraps per inch measuring thingy, and now a pair of gold scissors on a beaded fob. These came from the Etsy Passion and Patience shop run by a delightful person named Ronda who lives in Fort Wayne. She just started her shop this month and I wish the best for her. Go take a look and buy a present for your spinning wheel, or knitting bag, or .............

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Dyeing Raw Alpaca

I came across 2 ZipLocks of raw white dirty alpaca and am not sure where it came from. The amount of dirt and VM makes me think that someone gave it to me. Not really sure so I'm just going to call it Celeste 'cause she gets pretty dirty. The alpacas are all different with how much junk they like to wear in their fiber. We don't bed with straw and every morning I sweep up any hay that gets dropped so my fleeces are pretty clean. Well, actually Very clean. But then there is piggy Celeste. She rolls a lot - in spilled hay - in mud puddles - in snow (no, the snow doesn't clean her up). I digress. I came to show you the above fiber.

I soaked this fleece last night in Dawn and the hottest tap water I could get for a couple of hours and gently drained it in the sink with the drain open. Removed it and filled the sink with warm water and a big glug of white vinegar and let it set overnight.
I put it into my crock pot this morning and sort of divided the area into thirds and dotted Jacquard dry powder to produce the three colors you see here. Poured boiling water over and sort of poked a little to get the colors distributed but not running together. Cooked for 30 minutes and let cool on its own. Rinsed a couple of times and spun out in my washing machine.

Now I don't quite know what I'm going to do with it. It's quite lovely just as it is. I could spin it just like that, I could card it, I could sell it. Maybe I'll just leave it on the kitchen counter to admire for a while.....

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Awesome Crochet Hat

Isn't this just the cutest hat imaginable? Monica from Cortland, Ohio, had always used synthetic wool for her crocheting and wanted to try natural. She purchased this yarn that I spun as one strand of dark fawn, Polaris, our herd sire, and one strand of light fawn, Celeste, our goofball alpaca. Her Etsy shop is OhioCrochetLady. Be sure and take a look at her super crochet creations.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Looking forward to Spring and Cria-tion

Three inches of snow today and more expected. I am so looking forward to spring. I put up this picture of Orion and Ariana to add a touch of green, and hope, and creation. We should have 3 spring, alpaca cria and at least 2 BabyDoll sheep (more if they twin).

Etsy Fame

Oh, my, friends, I'm famous! My Etsy friend, Shalana of thefunkyfelter, has published an article in the Etsy Storque. And I'm in it.....a whole paragraph. Go take a look:

Some of my readers will recognize the picture of naughty, gray Gunny when he first arrived here. Boris, the other gray, was putting him in place.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Hat Recipe for Peggy

My Kentucky cyber friend, Peggy, asked for the pattern of the hat on my last post. I sort of made it up as I went along. So here it is, Peg. Hope I can make it clear.

I held two strands of DK to worsted handspun together for the whole hat.
Cast on 105 stitches on US# 4 circular needle. (I always start off with a smaller size needle 'cause I always use my alpaca which doesn't have a lot of memory)
Knit the pattern for an inch or so and change to US#7
Row 1 - Slip 1, Knit 2, Pass Slipped Stitch Over (psso) the 2 knits, Purl 2
Row 2 - K 1, Yarn Over, K 1, P 2
Row 3 - K 3, P 2
Row 4 - K 3, P 2
Knit pattern for about 6 1/2 inches and begin decrease.

For this decrease, I think I first knitted 2 together to make 104 stitches.
Round 1 - Knit 6, Knit 2 together to end of round
Round 2 - Knit
Round 3 - Knit 5, Knit 2 together
Round 4 - Knit
I continued this to end, somewhere changing to double ended needles.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Glittery Alpaca Hat

This is a little, well, not really little, hat that I just finished. I don't really consider myself a knitter. I'm a Spinner and knit when I need a break from my wheel, or we are going somewhere in the car. Since I'm a restless passenger, knitting makes travel tolerable (nice alliteration, Maple)
This hat was mostly left over yarn. When I 2 ply (put two spindles of singles together going the opposite direction), I will frequently have a little of one spindle left over. Even though I weigh two equal piles of roving, it's almost impossible to have them come out perfectly. So as not to waste those yards of singles, I do one of two things. I might Navaho Ply it which is using the 1 single to get a 3 ply yarn, sort of like finger crocheting. Or I might ply it with some glitter thread that I got from ThreadBear in Lansing. (They are really nice. I just called them and they mailed some to me.)
I used those glittery leftovers and knit them along with a brownish handspun yarn that I spun up quite a while ago. If you click on the picture, you can enlarge it to see the glitter.
The pattern on the bottom is that simple, fake cable stitch. I had intended to knit the pattern to the top, but somewhere made a mistake and just did the ribbing so that the mistake wouldn't show. I can't tear out, unknit, tink, or whatever you guys call it. If I can't find a way to keep going, I have to start all over. Well, at least I think I do.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Jocelyn's Green Alpaca Hat

Jocelyn just listed this darling hat in her newly established Etsy shop. I met Jocelyn last year when she was in Germany and she ordered some yarn from me. I think she does something with law (an attorney, maybe?) for the military. She's now back in the States. Jocelyn is one of those cyber friends that folks feel a special connection with - and she loves her dog so she has to be a terrific person.

This hat is from yarn from our white alpaca, Pollux, that I hand dyed. So go visit her shop and keep a close eye on it because she is a beautiful knitter.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Girls Go Wild

Yep, we got as wild and crazy as we small town women can get. Saturday knitting and lunch with ourMiddle of the Mitt fiber group. Pam was our instructor for double know, like you can end up with a tube, or a pocket, or a pencil holder, or........... well, best not put it in writing but our friend Kathy has made and decorated a few. Too bad that she wasn't there to learn this new technique. Pam is a knitter and pattern designer extraordinare and you can visit her blog here, and her Etsy shop here.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Majacraft Dyeing Magic

I do love spinning on my Majacraft. I started spinning on a Louet and it was very nice, then I just sat down and played on a Majacraft and fell in love. To top that off, the company had just introduced the one with the alpaca carved on it. Well, that was an omen for sure, I ordered one.

She came with the plastic spindles and I was told by several folks that I could dye on them - but haven't found anyone who actually does. I tried it and how fun! (I normally spin with my Woolee Winder).

I mixed a little Periwinkle and Hot Fuschia powder together, poured hot water on it and mixed it up. From past experience I know that the Periwinkle will pop out some pink somehow.

I dumped the dye solution into my dye kettle with some almost boiling water. I eased two spindles of white handspun (that had been soaking in a vinegar/water solution overnight) into the hot water, and let it simmer for about an hour.

In the picture I smooshed some of the blue aside so that you can see the pink underneath. This was all a nice surprise, because I expected the inside to be white. See below for the yarn. ↓

Spindle Dyed Alpaca

I the way this turned out and am anxious to knit some up because I think the knitting will gradually change from pink to blue. That would be really neat in a hat, I think. See the little blue dots in the pink..... The plastic spindles have 14 little holes up the hollow center and the blue dye seeped into the spindle.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

SarahJo from Grand Rapids, MI

No, no, I didn't make these lovely wrist warmers. I just can't crochet even though I've tried a couple of times. SaraJo from Grand Rapids, MI purchased the yarn from me a while back and created a couple pair of them. You can purchase them in her Etsy shop SarahJo. Go take a look.

I have just one skein of this lovely yarn left. It is a blend of Lady Belita and white Merino sheep that Stonehedge spun up for me. I love to send fiber to Stonehedge because it is a small family operation in East Jordan, Michigan.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

A Successful Experiment

I need to share this happy little experiment with you. I finished dyeing the roving on the left and quite a lot of dye was left in my crock pot. So, I poured it into the canning jar, added a glug of white vinegar, and stuffed in the little 95 yard ball of handspun that was waiting for a project in my knitting basket. I zapped it in the microwave for 3 minutes and let it cool. The color was totally exhausted and the yarn came out beautiful because the outer part of the ball was much darker than the inside. Really pretty as you can see below. It was in my Etsy store about five hours before it sold.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

I Do ♥ to Dye

I'm back in the dye pot! Yea! I want to do a batch or two a day until I get enough ahead that I feel I can list some in my Etsy shop and start spinning some. It's so much fun to spin this dyed fiber. This batch is 4.4 ounces which is very strange because I very carefully weighed out two 2 ounce bundles before I started. Everything seems to be putting on weight around this house.

For those interested in how I'm dyeing this alpaca roving - the rest of you just skip this paragraph - I'm soaking the roving in warm vinegar water for about half an hour. Then I add a wet layer (no, I'm not spinning it out) round and round in my crock pot. I use a popsicle stick to add just a titch of the dye powder on top of the wet roving. Then I carefully pour boiling water from my tea kettle over the roving and dye powder. I gently poke the dye with a big plastic spoon to get it to spread a little. I continue layering about 4 times while keeping the same color on top of the underneath color. I have used only 3 different colors with this method. The crock pot was set on high when I started and I cover and simmer for about 30 minutes. Then the hard part - unplug and leave alone to cool...... I try to handle the dyed roving very gently while rinsing and spinning out in my washing machine. I'm pretty pleased with this method because the fiber is hardly felting at all.

I'm all concerned about running out of fiber so have been on line searching for two days now. So far I have ordered a medium fawn blanket that took a blue ribbon at a show, and some black from a herd sire. I have so many connections going right now that I'm confusing myself. I found a farm that will sell me some white roving for a very reasonable price. These folks have all agreed to send me pictures of the alpacas so that I can show them with the fiber that will be for sale. I would still like to find some nice white.

I've ordered 5 pounds of McMurray's awesome white merino to blend with my alpaca after we shear. I've decided that the only fibers worthy of blending into the alpaca are really good merino and silk. Having said that, I do think some of Edie's mohair from Spinning Moon Farm will make it into our rovings.