Monday, March 31, 2008

Fun Weekend Spinning

Did some fun spinning this weekend..... The skein above is a single alpaca blend plied with a gold flecked Wooly Nylon serger thread. I threaded about 300 gold and pearl beads onto the thread before I plied. I thought I had about a hundred yards of the white all spun up and figured I wanted a bead every foot. For some reason I came out with beads left on my thread but think that this looks nice. Maybe the left over beads need to go on some black now. Think that will be today's spin. I listed this in my store here.

This was also a fun spin. Remember the Tulip inspired roving that I dyed last week. Here is some of it. I couldn't resist it! I still have a couple ounces left. This was experimentation - It's a single. The thread that you see, I just added as I was spinning the thick and thin, slubby single. I never spin singles because I'm always worried about the finished knitted project slanting - and after knitting this little swatch (there's that dirty word, Cary), yep, it will slant. It's here in my Etsy shop. I hope you don't think I'm blatantly promoting because that's not why I have my blog. It's only if you want to see more picture. Really!
Remember you can click on a picture to enlarge and see all those happy slubs.

And here's the guy responsible for all this. Okko. Yea! Okko! The fiber is from the blend that I picked up last week at Zeilingers. 75% alpaca, 20% merino, and 5% mohair.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Go State!

This is a big weekend for Michigan State hockey fans because the team is out in Colorado playing for the National Championship. They won last night and if they win tonight they move on to the Semifinals on April 10 in Denver.

You may recognize these two darlings as my dear granddaughters. The pictures were taken last year when Michigan State won the NCAA National Championship in St. Louis, MO.

And I'm sure you are asking why the kids were at that game...... Right? Well, their Dad is the hockey team physician, so, of course, goes to the games - and the whole family got to go.

Life could get a little sticky for their family because next week the girls will be staying here (YEA!) because their folks are taking high school students to Costa Rica. They will return April 10th when, should State win, Dr. Bob will fly to Denver instead of home to Michigan.

Sunday a.m. - just in case you care, MSU lost last night..... :-(

Friday, March 28, 2008

Soft, Clean, Colorful Raw Merino

Oh, look at that crimp, look how clean, over 3 inches long, and, Beth, you can huff it 'cause it smells so good. I bought 4 pounds and 11 ounces of this gorgeous Merino lamb from genopalette. If you go to the Etsy store right now, nothing will be listed, but look and click on what they have sold to see their lovely fleece. If you contact Desiree through the Etsy Contact, I know that she will have some for you. This is my third purchase from the McMurry's and I couldn't be happier.

I really thought that Merino came only in white, but look at this. The colors are deep to pale ashy greys and tans and browns. I can't decide what I'm going to do with it. Maybe send half with Sonata's brown fleece to Stonehedge to be make into yarn. I have 5 pounds and 5 ounces. The rest I'm thinking will go to Zeilingers with some fawn fleece to be made into roving.
Since becoming part of Ravelry, I am learning that many knitters really don't like to use pure alpaca. They want more memory and bounce, so I'm trying to provide them with it. Speaking of Ravelry, I found out how to feature my yarn to sell so have spent several hours today getting that organized. For you Ravelriers, I'm Maple there, and my yarn is NorthStarAlpacas (all written together like that)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I'm Dyeing for Spring

This plant from Nikki for Easter was my inspiration yesterday to heat up the dye pot. My dyed stuff makes a lovely background for the Tulips.
This fiber is dyed from roving that I picked up on Saturday from Zeilinger's mill in Frankenmuth. They did a beautiful job cleaning and processing it. And (heh, heh, wringing hands and cackling) I have over 5 pounds that will keep me dyeing for a long time.
The fiber itself is 75% white alpaca that I purchased from Okko, 20% white lamb Merino that I purchased from McMurrays, and 5%Mohair that I purchased from Edie at SpinningMoonFarm.
I'm so pumped to dye that I'm going to get at it again today (as soon as the View is over ☺)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Renee's Alpaca Hat

This is the handsome, light fawn Beau who used to stay with my dear, dear friend Marianne who lives down in Nashville, MI. He is now cheerfully being a herd sire, studly guy that he is.... I used his fiber to make the yarn for this hat.

Renee from Madison, Wisconsin knitted this dear little hat this month. Actually I could use it this morning. The wind is just a howling out there and our thermometer reads 32 degrees. Oh, woe is me - the barn critters need their breakfast and poop needs to be moved.

SPRING is coming, Spring IS coming....

Renee bought the 122 yard skein of yarn that I hand dyed in roving form and then spun up. She used US size 8 needles to knit her hat. More of her work can be seen on Ravelry.
I enjoy so much seeing my yarn make the complete circle from the fiber of my alpaca friends to a usable finished product of my fiber friends.

Monday, March 24, 2008

A Wallaby for Each

I finished the girls' hoodies and just couldn't wait until their birthdays, go gifted them as Easter presents. My friend Nancy made them matching scrunchies for their hair. (Have I mentioned that I really, really can't crochet. My fingers act like they have no memory at all. )

Both sweaters turned out a little large, but I guess that's good 'cause they may get a couple years out of them. And both girls seemed to like them. The youngest at 6 years old, Elizabeth, decided that she needed to learn to knit yesterday. That lasted about 5 minutes and we moved to the spinning wheel at her request. We waited until Meredith, 8 years old, finished the roving that she was spinning, and put Elizabeth on. Actually, she did quite well and took home a little ball. In the past she had only wanted to "pedal"

I have started a Wallaby sweater for the girls' mom, Nikki. Yesterday I asked her if she wanted a pouch and a hood. Yes, please. Guess I was kinda hoping that she would say no. But I'm still excited about doing this pattern. It works from the bottom ribbing up and I added stitches for Nikki's pouch last night (twice 'cause I just couldn't get it the way I liked).

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter

♥ We hope the Easter 'Paca is good to you today ♥
Photo by Beth

Friday, March 21, 2008

Sonata's Easter Bonnet

♪♫♪ Beth wrote a sonnet about Sonata's Easter Bonnet ♫♪♫♪

Buddy Beth has been in the barn again with her camera.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Funky Handspun

Yesterday I said that I could reward myself and do a fun skein of yarn and here it it. ↑ I spun a slubby, thick and thin from the roving posted yesterday but as I was spinning, I added pieces of shiney, brightly dyed mohair that I purchased from Cheryl at her cherylavenue Etsy shop. Then I threaded 140 little gold beads on beige Wooly Nylon thread and plied with it. I wish that the beads showed up in the picture...... I ended up with 160 yards which should be enough to knit or crochet some little thing....a skinny scarf or a funky hat.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

And My Reward Is

This lovely black skein is what I finished plying last night and is hanging up to dry right now. It came out very soft and I'm very pleased with its consistency and balance. I run my plied yarn from the bobbin to a 2 yard winder, and when I take it off that and it hangs perfectly straight that means that it is a balanced yarn, and I give myself a big congratulations, well done, pat on the back.

NOW I can get to this... After I do a straight forward, well spun skein, I reward myself with something fun. This is some alpaca roving that I dyed last week. (I do have some in my shop also). I have some green and yellow dyed mohair (did you know that mohair comes from Angora goats?) that I think I will add to it. Probably will spin it thick and thin, slubby, you know. I also have some tiny gold beads that I could string on some Woollee Nylon serger thread and then ply it with that. Do you think 100 beads for 100 yards sounds about right? I haven't added beads before so this will be an adventure. Yep, sounds like the plan for today. Will put up a picture if it happens.....
Kim from Michigan bought the black skein soon after I posted it. Thanks, Kim. Take a look at her blog to see the beautiful squares being made for charity.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Alpacas as Natural Materials

These are our three young fiber boys (l. to r.) Gunny, N. S. Orion (Slammie), and N. S. Pollux (Luxy). I just stuck in a picture because what I wanted to tell you about doesn't have a pict. unless you go look. And you do ♥ the alpacas, don't you?

Our NorthStarAlpaca store is mentioned and linked in an article by Autumn Wiggins in Crafting a Green World. This online magazine features projects that incorporate reused, recycled, and natural materials. Thank you so much, Autumn.

I do always wonder how someone finds my shop. Etsy does not have a tracking in place for us. Would be such an interesting feature. I can track who comes here and reads my blog through Google Analytics.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Mood Enhancer

When I woke this morning it was an "OMG, I don't want to get out of bed, I have to do barn chores alone, and I have a 2 hour dentist appointment at 10, poor me" type of morning. Then I looked out the kitchen window........

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Purchase - Handmade Sock Pins

Isn't this just too cute! It's tiny! Over twice the size smaller than this picture. My pinky finger won't fit down into it. It has one of those little tie tack pushy holders on the back. I purchased 3 of them to give to a few of my sock knitting friends. (I don't deserve to wear one with my one sock syndrome.) Take a look at my cyber friend's Etsy shop to see or order. Collette at Epicurus lives with her family and chickens and rabbits and alpaca on the Mojave Desert and is a fellow fiber addict.

Friday, March 14, 2008

St. Pat's Greeting from the Alpacas

Buddy Beth took pictures in the barn to share with all of us. Above is Berringer (Bear) looking good and sporting his holiday scarf.

You can read the pictures below like a story. Slammie got his scarf, then Lux, and of course, they had to discuss and admire each other. Well then, naughty Gunny (some of you know him) is determined to get a scarf of his own.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Alpaca, Mohair, Silk, and Wooly Nylon Yarn

This yarn sold before I could put it here but I want you all to see how pretty it is anyway - and how easy to spin. I spun a slubby and thin single from alpaca Black Knight and added dyed mohair and mauve Tussah silk as I spun. The dyed mohair is from Cheryl at her cherylavenue Etsy shop, and the mauve silk is from Rita's shop Castleman.
Then I just plied it in the opposite direction with black Wooly Nylon serger thread. I think that it is very yummy.

Happy St. Pat's Day

from Martini, the barn cat

Photo by Beth

Monday, March 10, 2008

Alpaca Bunny

It's so darn much fun to see how my yarn is used
This darling little bunny is named Polly and is in Sara's Etsy shop called Woolies. You must go and read the delightful write up that Sara gave Polly.

This is just too funny! When I just now went to get the link for you, I discovered that Polly has been sold! And to none other than my favorite Canadian customer, Margaret, who lives in Kitchener, Ontario. You might see "stuff" in my Etsy shop with a reserved for Margaret note. This is she, folks. I do have this uncanny feeling that someday Margaret and I are going to meet.....

Sunday, March 9, 2008

The Alpaca Fiber Process from Humming in the Back Yard to Yarn

Orion (Slammie), Pollux (Luxie), and GunnyI'm thinking that it would be fun to give a very simple explanation of the process of making yarn from our alpacas. You need to imagine the step of shearing to get the fiber off the alpacas. I will have pictures in May when we actually do the shear.
This is what the raw fiber looks like. Our animals stay quite clean and free of vegetation because we don't bed with straw and I sweep up fallen hay everyday. When the 'pacas are inside, they live on rubber mats.
To clean the fleece, I spread it out on a screen stapled to a big square, and pick out the vegetation (VM) by hand. Dust and dirt falls through to the floor.
Then I wash it which I have talked about here in my blog. If I am going to immediately dye, I leave the fiber wet after a vinegar solution soak.

My favorite way to dye is in my crock pot. I sprinkle dry Jacquard powder over the wet fiber, pour boiling water over, cover and cook for about 30 minutes. This yellow and green isn't the fiber for the final skein. But this is ↓

Then spread the fiber out to dry. Riley Cat enjoys the drying too much so this usually goes into the tub in the spare bathroom.

The fiber can be spun as soon as it is dry, but I like to card it which lines all the fibers up nice and straight and makes the spinning easier. BTW, this isn't the fiber in the final skein either.

Now the fun part (well, it's all fun, but this is my favorite) SPINNING. For this particular yarn, I tried to make slubby areas and very thin strands. I added some of Rita's (Castleman) mauve Tussah yarn as I spun. Then I plied the single with Woolly Nylon serger thread that had some elasticity to enhance my slubs and bumps.
All this preparation for 50 yards of this ↓

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

New Bobbin for Majacraft

I have wanted a large bobbin like this forever and bought this at Beth's Spinning Loft in Howell. When I'm using my Woolee Winder bobbins I can get about 3 ounces/200 yards of worsted, plied yarn on the bobbin. Now with this lovely bulky, I can ply a good 400 yards into one skein. Before I had to split the yarn onto 2 skeins which I hated to do. Notice the huge orifice and yarn guides. I could make a super bulky single on here, but guess I would need another one to 2 ply.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Christmas in March

I know, I know. Folks probably aren't interested in family pictures but dear daughter just sent this from Christmas morning, in front of her tree. That's me and husband. Tall girl, Meredith, is only 8 and I'm really worried that the Wallaby sweater, size 12, isn't going to fit her. Elizabeth is 6 and I'm hoping to start her sweater tonight if the yarn came in to my LYS. And, of course, that's my Cassie girl. Can you tell that she adores the grandgirls?

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Finished Wallaby Sweater - Yea!

Hot damn! I finished it! I love it! but have to wait 2 months to give it to oldest granddaughter. In the meantime, I'll start one for her younger sister who has her birthday just a week after Meredith's. I ordered some purplish self striping yarn at my LYS last week so hope that it is in tomorrow when our knitting group meets.