Monday, July 27, 2009

New Genetics - a trade

A neat way to spice up your herd's genetics is to trade animals with another farm. We offered Sommerfield up in trade. We have her brother, her mother, and now her younger sister, we don't need so many from the same line.

A farm in Ohio offered up their girl, Brooklynn, in trade for Sommerfield. Brooklynn was born in December, so she is 7 months old. She was only recenlty weaned from her mom. But she's a big girl! We are excited to add her as a foundation animal to our herd. She has completely different genetics than we currently have. She has a different look to her too, especially in her face, a cute look at that!

Welcome to our farm, Brooklynn!

Cavalier Pictures

Newborn pictures:

Birthday picture with his mom, Victoria:

This one is from today, he's a couple days old:

Here are all our 2009 cria - Lily is white, Po is brown and Cavalier is fawn:

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Cavalier

Our newest alpaca cria was born today sometime between noon and 2 p.m. I checked on Victoria at noon, and decided she did not look like she was in labor. She was in the barn chewing on some hay. So, I took Zack swimming. Emma called us around 2:30 p.m. and said she saw a baby on ground in the pasture.

It's a boy :) Baby was up and walking well by the time I got there to check on him. He looks like a fading fawn. Dad is Peruvian Twister from Sanborne's Great Northern Alpacas. Twister is fawn. Victoria is our maroon, dark brown.

Birth weight is 17.4 pounds. He was born on day 354, healthy and doing well.

For Victoria's offspring we have been using a "car" theme (using the name of cars as the offspring's name). We had a really hard time coming up with a name. We had several picked out, but none of them seemed to fit. He's tough, but elegant. All the names seemed tough and rugged. Finally we arrived on Cavalier, that has an elegant yet masculine feel to it. To make it formal we decided on The Cavalier. We will use our Oak Haven logo of OHVN The Cavalier.

This finishes cria season for this year. We are blessed with 3 wonderful cria. All are healthy and doing well. We continued our 2 girls and 1 boy ratio that we had last year.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Tucker's Sweater

This past weekend I blocked the sweater so it is ready to be worn. I do still need some buttons, but haven't found the right ones yet. This is me in the sweater with Tucker. He doesn't seem too impressed though.


We are still waiting on a baby from Victoria. We can see it in there, every so often a leg can be seen on her side.

This past weekend I spun up some of Victoria's fiber into yarn. One ball is 5 oz, the other 3.5 oz:

This is what the yarn looks like:

Thursday, July 16, 2009

My sweater

It might have been greedy for me to first make something for myself. But I wanted something I could wear to alpaca shows and craft fairs to show off our alpaca product. This is a very artsy sweater. For one, I spun it with any color variation that came along. I could have picked out the really white parts and the browish spots to make the color uniform. I chose to keep it artsy and natural. It is also one of my first spinning adventures so the yarn has it's bumps and variation. This makes it very natural and artsy looking.

I am exicted how the sweater turned out. I did have to make some changes in order to get it right in the end, but it's finally there!

I do need to block it yet and put on buttons. The way it's hanging here is a bit off center, but it gives you the idea:

After I finished my sweater, I washed up Victoria's fiber from 2 years ago. To wash it, I put a bunch of it in a netting bag and wash it in sink with very hot water. The first time I put some dawn dish soap in there first to clean it. I fill the sink with hot water and dawn, then immerge the bag of fiber. I let it sit for 15 mintues then squeeze it out. You do have to be careful because aggitation will cause the fibers to felt, and I don't want that! I sometimes repeat with another dawn washing, depending on how dirty it is. Then I do at least two soakings in plain water to rinse off the soap. This is what it looks like in the sink:

Once I have it clean, I spread the fiber out on a skirting table J made for me that we keep in our basement. While laying there, we will fluff up the fiber from time to time to help it dry and make sure it doesn't set in a clump. Then I use a flicker to make a cloud of fiber to spin from. Another option would be to send it to a mill and have rovings made to spin from. So far I've done fine with a cloud that we do ourselves. It saves my having to wait for the mill :)

Once I have the sweater blocked and buttons on, I'll post a picture of me in it.

Young Alpacas

Our 2009 cria, Lily and Po (Pocahontas) have become very good friends. They often graze together, or on cooler evenings they love to pronk around the pasture. This is my favorite thing to witness as they will run full force down the hill and chase each other. Here they are about ready to take a nap. Note Kateri is right by her baby, she is ever the doting mom.

Shelby and Tehya turned a year old last week. They continue to grow and amaze us with their fiber. They are fiber machines! We are amazed at their staple length. I'm excited to see how their fiber spins. Tehya looks more and more like her father, Goldsmith, and Shelby continues to be her cute self with that full facial coverage.

Here's Tehya at a year old:

This is Shelby with her woolly face:

Often times as they age their faces become less covered in fiber. There are mixed feelings on how well people like facial coverage. Some people love the look, some say it indicates density, other feels it makes it difficult for them to see. I do like the look, but in Shelby's case, we have to trim some by her eyes because she does sometimes have a hard time seeing well.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Fiber weekend

I spent my weekend working on the alpaca fiber. Last weekend I washed up Victoria's fiber from 2 years ago. I love her color, it's a reddish brown that is sometimes referred to a maroon. J was so nice as to fluffy up the fiber and help it dry throughout this last week. This weekend I was ready to start spinning it into yarn. I wondered how her fiber would spin. I've read that the crimp in the fiber is supposed to help with spinning. Crimp is the wavy lines that you can see when you spread the fiber apart. So far I have only spun Tucker's fiber, and he has nice crimp. Victoria has a lot of wonderful attributes, but she lacks crimp. Because I had been under the impression crimp was better for spinning, I was pleasantly surprised to find I loved spinning Victoria's fiber. It spins so smoothly. I am spinning this into a very fine yarn, as that is what it seems to want to do naturally.

After spinning just a little of Victoria's fiber, I wanted to do that all weekend! It was so smooth and pretty. But, I also wanted to complete my sweater. I had done the sleeves over the last week, but when I went to put them on the sweater, I realized I had done the pattern wrong. They had to be redone. Saturday Zack wanted to go swimming, and since he needed someone to supervise him, I agreed to go. I took that as a great time to knit up those sleeves, for the 2nd time. I thought I was knitting so fast, as I finished the sleeves during his swim. Then, come to find out he swam for 4 hours!

That night I sewed the seams to put the sweater together only to find out that the front panels did not match up. I know I checked and double checked that they would, but here it was plain to see when I put the sweater on that the pattern on one side started lower than it did on the other side. So, I had to take out the seams, including the neck band that I had knit, to free up one front panel for me to adjust where the pattern started. Sunday Zack wanted to swim again, so I set up my chair and knitting right by the pool. Sunday he *only* swam for 3 hours, but it was enough for me to fix the front panel and put all the seams back together. It's done!

I still need to wash and block it. I have never done this step before, and anything new gives me a bit of anxiety. I'm sure it will be fine. I also need to find some buttons because it's a short sleeve cardigan sweater that requires four buttons. I don't want any old button on there, so this could take some looking. I'm thinking something black with a wood texture would really be neat.

I am so excited to have my own alpaca sweater to wear!
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