Sunday, September 27, 2009

Damn Muskrats

This is the pond/lagoon that I fenced in to make more pasture for the alpacas. Look what the muskrats have done! Can you see all those tunnels? I really thought that the muskrats and I could live together in a peaceful, respectful coexistence BUT the tunnels are caving in and making holes up on top where my 'pacas graze.
I have this horrible mental picture of one of the alpacas stepping into a hole and breaking a leg.
Today I was going to try to fill all the cave ins with dirt, but when I got out there, it made more sense to just shovel and smoosh down the tunnels. (The boys are checking out my shovel)
I don't think this is a permanent fix so I may have to give in and let Josh trap them like he suggested. Geese, I really hate to do that......

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Dyeing Frenzy

This is Celeste in full fleece. Can you see how lovely her light fawn fiber is? Last spring she sheared over 7 pounds of 4 inch long fleece.

Celeste was the first alpaca born on our farm four years ago so she's pretty special, a little goofy and I didn't think she would really grow up. She had a lovely cria in the spring of 2008 and is pregnant again by my own herd sire, Polaris. I worried about her being a good mom 'cause she is so silly but she has taken excellent care of her little girl, Lyra.
Her fiber is awesome! At the alpaca shows, we have what is called a SPIN OFF where breeders send in 2 ounces of fiber to be spun by a judge. Celeste won, not only the best in her class, but also best over all at the show. It's long and not overly crimpy which makes it lovely to spin.

So this is what I have been doing↑ Dyeing like a mad woman! The teal and pink/blue are from Celeste's seconds. There is probably about 5 pounds of fiber here.
I think I know why I'm being rather compulsive about this. I can control it and am getting amazing results. The other part of my life has been chaotic.
Some of you may not know that my 89 year old mom came to live with me at the end of August. She was here a week and fell and has been in Rehab at the Alma hospital since. I have been really frightened about taking care of her because she was scheduled to come home today. Well, yesterday, with the help of the social worker at Rehab, we got her a room in a nursing home in St. Louis. I think Medicare will only cover her stay for 20 days, but I'm incredibly relieved that she is going to have a safe place with better skilled care than I can provide.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Baby Alpaca - To Dye For

JR with his momma, sweet Sonata, right after his birth last year, September 19, 2008.

I came across the seconds from JR's first shear. If you are interested, seconds are the less desirable fiber from the alpaca. In JR's case, from his neck, chest, and belly. The fiber is usually different lengths and probably has second cuts. JR's fleece will probably never be as soft and fine as this first shear.

I have never tried to dye over a color as dark as this brown so this is another experiment - that went well.
*I washed the fiber in Dawn and the hottest tap water I could get. After letting it soak about 1/2 hour, I drained it, ran another sink full of warm water to rinse and added a big glug of vinegar.
* While I was washing and draining, I heated up about 8 or 10 cups of water in my crock pot and added another big glug of vinegar just before adding the wet fleece.
* I put into the water about 1/2 teaspoon of red Jacquard dye on the left and the same amount of Burnt Orange on the right. Then lowered the wet fleece in. I did a few pokes to settle it down but didn't stir because I wanted the colors to stay separate. They did....

This is about 6 ounces of fleece. I love the colors!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

JR's Blue Ribbon Yarn

It's such a thrill to hear about my 'pacas' fiber from all around the world. I just received this picture ↓ from Barb in California. This is what she had to say *** Just a quick note to let you know that Kendra won a blue ribbon for JR's yarn at the Los Angeles County Fair. You sent that as a sample to us on (we think) our first order from you. We took a picture for you***

JR's fans will remember this little guy who was born last September and struggled to survive. He has remained very small for his age but is the most delightful, friendly little feller on the farm. I'm so pleased that his fiber has brought joy to Barb and Kendra.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Spun in the Fog

What a breathtaking sight this morning at the beginning of my walk.

I ran back into the house and grabbed my camera because I had to record this work of art by a fellow spinner. Sharon, I thought of you because you are the only one I know that could possibly reproduce this beautiful design.
Local schools were on delay and then cancelled this morning because of the fog. We were a little anxious on our two mile morning walk and listened carefully for approaching vehicles.

That's my barn walking from the east.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Alpaca Scarf - Start to Finish

My goal for this scarf project was to see if I would be happy spinning and knitting with a single ply yarn. My thoughts have always been that a single would slant and perhaps even fall apart.
I started with a couple year's growth of white alpaca fleece from the handsome Target who lives with Chris and Jenn in St. Louis, Michigan.

To Target's fleece I added a few pounds of white merino that I purchased from the McMurrays' who have the shop Genopalette on Etsy. They always provide me with the most awesome, clean sheep fleece imaginable.
So below is little Max with this huge bag of top beautifully processed at Zeilingers' in Frankenmuch, Michigan.

I dyed up a few pounds of the top in my crock pot and have some still listed in my shop (This isn't the same dye lot as my scarf)

I spun 2.6 ounces of the dyed top rather tight for me. I was really afraid it would fall apart, but I didn't need to worry. I washed the yarn in hot water and agitated it a little so that it would felt some. It did just that, stayed together, but retained its lovely softness.

....and here, TA,DAHHHHHH, is my scarf.

It is for sale in my shop here if you want to look more.
In conclusion - YES! I will continue to knit with a single ply yarn, but I will probably always worry about the possibility of a slant - probably never doing a vest or sweater, anything large....