Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Alpaca Babysitter

This is Maryann's sweet Suri alpaca, Weatherby, who thinks that it's his job to adopt and care for all the critters on the farm.
Photo by Maryann

Monday, April 28, 2008


This is little black Chinella who lives down in Jackson, MI. I think that Beth is going to partnership with us to buy her. Adorable, isn't she? Born last September, and look at that little milk mouth.
Her dad is Chin and her mom is Estrella = Chinella.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

I'm Loving Knitting these Mobius Scarves

In a week I have made three of these scarves - and - you need to remember that I'm not really a great lover of knitting. This last one is from some alpaca/merino/mohair roving that I had dyed quite a while ago. Here's were I talk about my first one. I spun the yarn as a thick 'n' thin/slubby just for this scarf. I ended up with 138 yards.

As you knit using the Moebius cast on, the rows are being added from the inside to the outside (the cast on is in the very middle of the scarf). This is a little confusing but if you knit the entire row, one half looks knitted and the other looks purled. I thought this concept would be great for those uncontrollable lumps that always end up on the purl side when knitting with a slub yarn. I cast on 86 stitches and used a circular needle (#13 point on the right side and # 9 point on the left). Maybe you can see in the picture that I did a row of yarn overs, which turns out looking like two rows.

Because I wanted to use every single bit of the yarn, I just continued knitting until the handspun was gone and added the "store bought" gold mohair around the outside. The scarf ended up being 72 inches long and 4 inches wide.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Results for Which Celebrity Is Your Dog? Dog Celebrity Quiz by Dogster

Results for Which Celebrity Is Your Dog? Dog Celebrity Quiz by Dogster: "What celebrity would your pet be? I"
Wow, your dog is Jennifer Lopez!
Jennifer Lopez
Dressed to Kill
Una bomba inteligente autentica, cassie is super-fly girl Jennifer Lopez!
Curvaceous and sassy and always more than willing to pawticipate with a few moves on the dance floor, cassie moves and grooves with the best of them. But that doesn't mean it's all fun and salsa for cassie—discipline and structure are key ingredients that have helped to put cassie on a fur-lined fast track. Family is of utmost importance for cassie , and she takes care of her brothers and sisters with the same dedication that she gives her little 'uns. To see and to be seen are significant parts of cassie's daily activities, and the real-life Cleopetra makes her rounds with confidence and flair, always preferring to hang with the more bold and beautiful members of the pack.
This little quiz was just too fun. Click on the picture to go take it yourself. Thanks, FireFly Nights for the link.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Animal Portraits by Ann - Alpaca Kiss

This incredibly awesome painting is done in water color and color pencil by Ann Ranlett (and it's for sale). I have admired her work on Etsy for some time now. I left her a note telling her how lovely her work is and suggested that she do some alpacas. She has been painting llamas as well as lots of other four legged friends. I hope that you look at her blog because she has a wonderful Golden Retriever that she has done, well, I believe that everything she does is incredible. I gave her free rein to use any of my pictures. My Flickr account is here.
Ann lives in northern California with her husband, two dogs, and her horse. Her web site is here.
Her Etsy store is http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5532445
And her blog is http://annran.blogspot.com/2008/04/alpaca-kiss-love-fiber.html
I do hope that you go visiting, especially if you have a special friend who needs an original drawing or painting.
Below is the photo that Ann used as a reference. This is Ariana with her now two year old son, Orion (Slammie). He's the alpaca that went to school with John this year.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Moebius Scarf

Saturday I took a class from Lucy Bromm on how to do the Moebius Cast On. The first hour was somewhat tense - took off the extra shirt, deodorant failure, wanted a cigarette, drank a Diet Coke, but it was so worth it. Once my fingers stopped overreacting to the cast on, it was quite easy and very fast. Then the fun began! You are actually knitting from the middle out and because the needles are twisted, one side will look knitted but the opposite will look purled. It does sort of feel like magic.
I have high hopes for this scarf and right now plan on knitting hundreds. I started the scarf above with the white yarn that I just got back from Stonehedge Mill. It is 50% alpaca and 50% merino lamb, and is heavenly to knit with (I have 16 skeins of 250 yards each). Because I was experimenting, I did 2 rows of knit, then 2 rows of purl, 3 knit, 3 purl, and just changed whenever. There are 4 rows of knitted commercial mohair around the outside. I need to find that stretchy, knitted bind off directions and will finish. Yea! I will probably list it in my Etsy shop.
I had bought Cat Bordhi's book A Treasury of Magical Knitting but the cast on didn't make much sense before Lucy helped me. I think Cat Bordhi will be at Threadbear in Lansing this summer.
The most usable, helpful thing that I learned that I want to pass on is that if you use a larger needle on the right, knitting is waaaay easier. I have a US# 11 on the right and a US# 9 on the left. Why didn't anyone ever tell me this before? Is it the best kept knitting secret? Well, now you all know!
Of course, you need the needles that screw onto a cable, like Denise, or KnitPick which is what I have.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

New Use for Alpaca Fiber

Maryanne is using our alpaca and sheep roving to create pincushion that look like the Colorado rocks she sees on fishing trips. Go here to learn more.

PrairieDaisy asked yesterday about the Matilda covers that we are using on our sheep. She talks about fiber and sheep in her blog, and has an Etsy Store. First of all I need to say I feel a little presumptuous answering sheep question because we are such Newbees, but I bought our last covers from Bonnie Sutten who lives about 20 miles from us. Her site is Sheepythyme (cute, aye?) and here is the page that talks about them. I think that they come from Australia and there are only a few dealers here in the US.

Now I need to go tell Bonnie that I lifted this sheep picture from her site.

Monday, April 14, 2008

BabyDoll SouthDown Sheep

Dave, our shearer, sheared our 6 sheep a week ago. This was another first for us. I have a great deal of admiration and respect for sheep shearers now. The shearer tips the sheep over backwards onto its butte onto the shearer's lap and legs, and while holding the sheep head to the side, leans over and shears. You need to visualize what a long reach this is. These sheep are only 24 inches high.
For some reason most sheep don't struggle and fight much in this position, but our two pregnant ewes, Cardigan and Jenny, protested greatly. Beth, Smitty, and I tried to help, but it was mainly Dave's job. Granddaughter Meredith was holding a flashlight because it was getting dark.
Above is the fleece from Maddy, pictured below, she looks so brown in the picture, but her fiber spun up quite black.

This is our white lamb Phoebe, in her new coat. Everyone will be wearing coats this year to keep the fiber clean. Phoebe's fiber seems to be finer than Maddy's but has more lanolin in it. I have washed up these two fleeces and listed them in my Etsy shop.
I'm very encouraged that we have some nice sheep after my friend, Cary, a long time sheep breeder, evaluated and likes our fiber. She talks about Maddy's fiber in her blog here.
Washing this stuff has been challenging. I soak the fiber in a big mesh bag that goes over the spinner in our washing machine (don't worry - I don't agitate), and then I spin it out.
Cary has a very good tutorial on her farm site if you want to learn how to wash fleece. I'm learning that the vinegar rinse is quite crucial to removing the grease.
I'm anxious to try blending our sheep with our alpaca. Cary suggested using close to the same staple length when combining. After I play with it a while and after we shear alpacas in May, I will probably send some combinations off to the mill. I have already sold two of the fleeces (from the naughty girls mentioned above) so have 2 whites and 2 blacks to experiment with.
Ain't Life Grand!
Marie asked in the comments if we coated the alpacas. No, Marie, we really don't need to. Because the fiber is dry (no lanolin) it doesn't seem to attract the VM like the sheep. Many breeders blow out the fiber with vacuums before they shear, but we just hand pick the big stuff out. We don't get much trash in their coats probably because our indoor pens are lined with rubber mats instead of straw. They don't need bedding to stay warm because of all that lovely fiber. Another thing is that unlike sheep who poop and pee anywhere, alpacas are very clean and have a communal poop site. It's very easy for me to sweep their pens daily.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Dyed Raw Alpaca Evolves....

Do you remember a few months ago when I was dyeing the raw white alpaca fiber? Look here ↑ what it has become. Beautiful yarn, handspun by Carrie. To get a description of how she produced this lovely stuff, take a look at her shop, TemptressYarn
Carrie, a certified fiber art fanatic, mother of two wee ones, lives at Long Island, New York, and creates a multitude of lovely products from hand spun yarn to hand made cards. She crochets, she dyes, she spins, she does it all.

Granddaughter Meredith made some yarn and pot holders and listed them in my Etsy store today. Can you guess? Yep, Carrie, from above, bought her yarn, and friend Collette of Epicurus bought three pot holders. You really must visit the shops of these two who are kind enough to encourage a budding 8 year old future fiber addict.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Blog Neglect

Oh, my gosh, you need to go here and see what Kristen has written on her blog about me. It makes me feel a little sheepish and sort of embarassed - yet really pleased and is giving me big smiles. I've gone back and read it a couple of times for a big ego boost.
Kristen is one of the very first folks that I felt a connection with a few years ago when I started my Etsy shop. I have checked out her blog weekly and admired her handwoven goodies. You know the pictures that you get in your mind of what someone must be like? Kristen remains there as a kind, generous, intelligent woman out East, but I was sure she must be in her late 20s 'cause she has two wee kids. Now I find out this Attorney trained woman is about the same age as my own girls. Well past 30.

I've been neglecting this blog because I'm out of my normal routine with the grandgirls and their dog, Knox, staying with us for the week. We have played tons of games, knitted, spun, shorn sheep, groomed winter hair out of the horses, and last night went to see "Nim's Island" 8 year old Meredith has decided that she wants to put some stuff in my Etsy store so is right this minute weaving a pot holder.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Renee and Magnolia

This delightful little hat is from white Magnolia's fiber that I handdyed and spun. It's created and knitted by Renee from Madison, Wisconsin, (solmama on Ravelry) (graymama on Etsy). I know that I've said it before, but it's so much fun to see where and how our fiber ends up.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

My Little Corner of the World

Because I love to see other folks' work spaces, I just naively think that everybody does. This is our living room where I spin. Normally the drapes are open so that I get great light. Cassie, my Golden, is usually to the left of my chair, and Max, our Sheltie, lays along the wall to the right. Bliss, I tell you....

Tomorrow I am going to Corunna to stay overnight with the grandgirls, get them to school on Friday, and bring them home for a week. Their folks are taking high school students to Costa Rica. And my other daughter is in Germany chaperoning high school students for two weeks. This daughter, Terre, is a high school counselor here in Ithaca. Don't you think that it's amazing and wonderful that kids today have such wonderful opportunities?