Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Blue N Tucker 3 in 1

My 3 skeins of yarn for the Blue N Tucker Ear Flap hat.

They worked out how I planned. Just over 2 ounces of solid blue, just over 4 of blue and grey and just over 6 of grey. With over 12 ounces total, I should get 2 hats out of these skeins.

Tucker ~ skein 3 of 3

For this Blue N Tucker hat I am planning, I needed some Tucker yarn too :)

It's sort of twisty here but this was before it was washed to set the twist. It will dry just fine and knit up great.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Blue N Tucker ~ skein 2 of 3

I wanted this blue striped hat to have a touch a blue, but also something else. I thought it would mix well with light silver grey from our herdsire, ARF Our Peruvian Tucker's fiber.

While in my mind this seemed like a good match, I was nervous putting this together.

I was so pleased as I was plying this:

It came out better than I had imagined:

Monday, February 27, 2012

Blue ~ skein 1 of 3

I decided to do some different things with this blue fiber. I wanted to make three different skeins, so I would have different variations in order to make a striped hat.

First I made a small skein of 2 ply blue fiber. I opted to make this one small, planning to have only small totally blue stripes.

It felt strange plying Blue (I typically call my skeins by the name of the alpaca they come from. I have nicknamed this fiber Blue, after our imaginary alpaca, Blueberry):

Here it is completed:

Blue hanging next to Rose (before she was sold):

I wondered if the yarn would look different than my usual home spun. I do think it's more even and less bumpy (for lack of a better word). Now if being less bumpy is good or bad is a matter of preference. I was looking for something different so this is just right.

Here's a closer look at the contrast of Rose's yarn and Blue's yarn:

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Feels Like Cheating

Each of my children discovered at different times, they both were quite confused. Emma discovered it first, she walked into the living room and instantly stated, "what is that?"

Me: It's from our new alpaca, Blueberry.
Emma: Yeah, right.
Me: It's dyed wool. Come over here and feel it, see how it is different from alpaca.
Emma: I only touch fiber from animals I know.

Gotta love a pre-teen with standards.

Later Zack came up from the basement, the instant he could see my spinning wheel he exclained "it's blue!" Even the kids know I've only spun natural colors. He looked real close:

I wanted to try something a little different. I had a request for one of my hats, in blue tones. I haven't ventured into dying, and we don't have any alpacas that produce blue fiber, so I had to think on this one. I decided to buy some blue dyed fiber, I was open to any type of fiber, I just wanted blue.

I purchase this BFL braid from WonderWhyAlpacaFarm (a wonderful Michigan based alpaca farm - her farm blog is here):

Given I have always spun yarn from raw fiber off our own animals, this was quite the change for me. Not only is it blue, not my usual natural colors, but it is also wool (BFL = Blue Faced Leicester), not alpaca. Add on that I am used to spinning raw fiber I flick into a cloud rather than a more formally prepared fiber, this was all a very new adventure for me.

I was cheating on my alpacas, cheating on my natural color loyalty, and cheating on my home prepared fiber cloud method. It sure spun up much faster than my typical method, cheating indeed.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

February Goals Check In Week 3

I challenged myself to 3 main goals for February, and I'm happy with my progress on all three. While it doesn't look like I will actually meet each goal, I'm ok with that. Generally I'm not someone who is willing to let a goal get away from me. But after being so sick last weekend, I really lost out on several days this month. The real point of these goals were to make progress and I sure did that.

1 ~ halter train our alpaca juvis: Thunder, Shamballa, Lady Bing and Dutch: result 3.25/4

While Zack and I did not get in a lot of haltering training sessions this week due to having a bout of the stomach bug, we did halter them on Thursday afternoon for quite a while. Shamballa and Lady Bing have been doing quite well. I'd say Thunder is at 75% trained and Dutch is at about 50%. We are getting there, but will need to put in quite a few sessions between now and our first spring show.

2 ~ spin a skein of yarn a week: result 3+/4

Tehya's yarn:

Rose's yarn:

and my 3 in 1 Tucker N Blue which I have yet to blog about (it really is completed, it just has quite the story to go along with it). Stay tuned for this unveiling.

I put 3+ because in a way it depends how a skein is defined. I aimed to spin up 4 main skeins, not counting the accent ones (smaller mini skeins) but I didn't actually specify that. In my heart I know I didn't do the 4 full skeins like I aimed for, so counting the 3 in 1 as 3 skeins (which it is actually 3 separate skeins) doesn't fit with the spirit of what I meant. So I can't give myself a pass on this one.

However, I do have all weekend to spin and I very easily could spin up another full skein before the end of February. This goal isn't done yet.

3 ~ run 60 miles this month: result 40.5/60 miles

I scaled way back on my running this week. I was sick and I needed time to get well again. Plus, once I was well, there were farm chores to catch up on and halter training. Those took priority over running. Now that we are recovered and back on track, I should be able to get in more running this next week. I know February is over on Wednesday, so at this point I likely won't meet this goal this month. I could push myself if I really felt it essential, but I think it's more important that I get back into running at the right pace and not push myself too much (which could risk my getting sick again, or my being sick of running). I typically run between 15 and 22 miles a week regardless of having this goal to work towards, so I don't feel like I have to meet this goal or else. I know I will be running anyway.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Pie In the Sky

It might come as a surprise that I sold that skien of Rose's yarn. This one:



It's gone. Likely it already arrived at her new home by now.

A dear friend saw it on my blog, she's been asking to buy yarn for forever, and really wanted this one, so I sold it.

I know that sort of goes against my goals for the month. But it doesn't go against the big picture. The entire idea I had was to increase sales. My idea was to knit up some hats for sale. In order to do that, I need to make yarn. But I have no idea if my hats will sell. While I do have 1 pre-orderd, it isn't the Spicy Rose Hat. I jumped ahead past the making of a hat directly to a sale, now that is what I call making my goal.

As a business we have to keep our eye on the pie in the sky, the big picture, the end result, not the day to day steps we might be focused on.

I have more of Rose's fiber, so I can still make the Spicy Rose Hat. But who knows, maybe someone else will want my next skein of Rose's Yarn.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

working ahead

Last week we had a heath scare with one of our kids, which resulted in my spending some time in the ER. Funny how I was loading him up in the car and packing stuff up for us to go, I also grabbed some knitting (my stash bag). No sense sitting there with nothing to do.

Thankfully he is fine (it ended up being a stomach bug, but based on his history we totally missed the signs of this common ailment).

While there I knit up the ear flaps, starting another hat:

I plan for this to be a stripey hat. I can use up a lot of my stash, but more so, I think the different tones of brown and fawn will look really neat together.

I am putting the rest of this knitting on hold, while I focus on spinning yarn. I will pick it up again when we head out to an alpaca show - I can't wait!!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Yarn Ready

My project this month has been to get yarn ready, so when we head to alpaca shows this spring, I have plenty of yarn to knit with on the trip.

This is what I've put together from my stash:

I weighed a completed hat, and found it to be 6 ounces. The contents of this bag weighs over 10 ounces, so I have enough for 1.5 hats. These different color brown and fawn yarn will make a neat striped hat. I will have some left over to use as stripes on another hat.

My first completed skein for February was this bunch from Tehya's fiber:

I purposely made a larger ball and a smaller ball. This is because I plan to knit ear flap hats with this yarn. I prefer to knit the ear flaps at the same time, which requires two balls of yarn. The main part of the hat can be done with one ball (the larger one).

I weighed these balls, which came to a total of 11 ounces. That means I can make 1 entire Tehya hat, which I've wanted to do because I think her fading fawn color will look awesome on a hat. Then I can make another hat with mostly Tehya, but with another color for stripes.

Then I completed this skein from Rose's Fiber:

It weighs 7.25 ounces, plenty for a hat. I have a plan to spice up this hat, which I will talk about another day. I figure at this rate I have enough for a spicy Rose hat, and some Rose yarn left over as stripes on another hat.

I put the balls of yarn in bags:

These bags sit on my little table next to my purse, so I know right where to find them when I'm ready to go:

In these three bags I have enough yarn for at least 4 hats:

1 ~ Tehya hat
2 ~ stripey hat
3 ~ mostly Tehya hat with stripes
4 ~ spicy Rose hat

I have already started on a new skein, and what an adventure this has been! I will save that story for another post.

With our planning on 4 spring shows, and my estimate that I can knit a hat on the way there and another on the way back, I need to be prepared for 8 hats. I still have my work cut out for me to get enough yarn ready for spring show season.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Hat Completed

I knit this hat a few weeks ago on my trip to and from Ann Arbor at the end of January. After I got home, I had to sew up the back and sew on the ties, then block it. Here it is blocking:

This hat was knit out of two of our alpaca's fiber. The brownish color is medium rose grey off our male, SA Peruvian Greyt Exxpectations. The lighter fawn color is fading fawn from our girl, Tehya. We bred Greyt to Tehya last summer, so we are expecting a cria from this combination. We could get any color cria from fawn to rose grey to brown or even black. Can't wait to see!!

This hat will be for sale on our ETSY farm store. I just need to get some better pictures first. It is an adult size hat (and so far, everyone I've had try it on, says it fits, so it really seems to be a one size fits all).

I plan to take our knit products to all our alpaca shows this spring, so come on by our pen and feel it for yourself.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Taking It Easy

It might not come as a surprise that I tend to be a person who has a hard time taking it easy. I'm used to being busy, I like to be busy, I don't care much for complete down time. But as it happened, our household was shook by a horrible stomach bug this past week, we fell like dominoes, one right after the other. Zack came down with it Wednesday night (which we didn't realize, Zack has had ongoing issues and we thought his symptoms were part of a more serious problems, thankfully it was only the stomach bug). Thursday evening J became quite sick. Emma was struck on Friday evening, which placed full fear in me. I hate the stomach bug to begin with. Add on that I have problems with acid reflux and have a very difficult time getting over the stomach bug (I've ended up in the hospital from it before). Emma is known in our family has having an incredible immunity. If Zack has a cold for a week, Emma will have it for half a day. If Zack is struck in bed with a terrible fever and strep throat, Emma will have a slightly sore throat (yet still have strep). When she fell victim, and fell hard, I lost hope. It was inevitable. Saturday evening was my demise. I knew it was coming, so I prepared. I got all my laundry done. I cleaned up the house. I went for a run. I did as much of the farm chores ahead of time that I could. I was ready when it hit. In fact, I went out at 3 p.m. to do farm chores, come inside and knew tonight was my night. I went to my spinning wheel and finished spinning the rest of a second strand of Rose's fiber. I wanted it ready to ply (when I felt better). As soon as I was done spinning that strand of Rose's fiber, I went to bed (never mind it was only 5:30 p.m.). It was all over. I don't remember much of Sunday other than that by 10:30 a.m. I had already taken 2 naps. The rest of the day is a blurr. I didn't do anything but sleep on the couch, sleep in bed, and moan in pain.

Today is Monday, and while I feel quite a bit better, I know I have to take it easy. I know I tend to do too much too soon and that is why I end up with prolonged gastritis and in the ER. So to help me sit still today, I spent some time with fiber.

I plyed 2 strands of yarn from Rose's fiber:

I was a little surprised at how this fiber turned out. I expected it to seem more pink, it really does feel more brown/grey (she's a light rose grey, which is brown and grey). I just thought it would come out more pink because she looks pink to me when I look at her.

Isn't is lovely?!

It sometimes baffles me how the fiber can be this:

And end up this:

I love this skein:

I did some other things today: like mending (sewing on some buttons) and I blocked a hat I knit up a couple weeks ago, and I started spinning something new, but I'll save those for another post. Taking it easy, that's what I'm doing :)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

February Goals Check In

I said I'd check in each Saturday morning to report on my progress towards my February Goals. I had a very busy week, some of which was working towards my goals, some was not.

1 ~ halter train our alpaca juvis: Thunder, Shamballa, Lady Bing and Dutch: result 2.75/4

Shamballa is fully trained, I'd take him to a show right now no problem. Lady Bing is also trained, I'd take her to a show as is and be happy with that. Thunder is about 3/4 trained. I could take him to a show as is and be ok with it, but I'd like him to be a little better. Dutch made a huge improvement, jumping from 0 trained to about 1/4 trained. She walks on the lead, which is huge. She still walks hunched over, so we have some things to work on but we are making progress.

Unfortunately after working on halter training on Sunday, Zack had an acid reflux attack and was not up to training Monday. Tuesday we got out there and got another session in. We chose to take Wednesday off due to muddy rainy weather, not knowing that on Thursday Zack was going to be very sick (he ended up in the ER with gastritis). He's still not completely well, so halter training is slowed down. I have to have my training partner to help me round them up and work with them. Hopefully before the end of the month we can work with Dutch and Thunder to get them fully trained (we will keep working with Shamballa and Lady Bing, as we've found more is better, the more they are used to us messing with them, the less agitated they are when it comes to going to shows).

2 ~ spin a skein of yarn a week: result 1.75/4

I am disappointed because I really wanted to be at 2/4 by this check in. I have 2 weekends left for the month and that meant 2 more skeins. I got behind the first week (due to plying an old skein before starting a new one). I had great plans to catch up this week. Unfortunately that plan included lots of spinning on Thursday, since I was only going to work 1/2 a day, then be home the rest of the day (my kids had half a day off of school). That's the day I was in the ER with Zack, no spinning was done. (I did work on some knitting though).

I've come to the conclusion that it might not be realistic with all my other life commitments for me to go from raw fiber to a spun skein of yarn in a weeks time for four consecutive weeks. If I was going from rovings or batts, or if I had more available time to spin, that would be different. But I will still plug away and see how close I can get to completing this goal. The month isn't up yet.

3 ~ run 60 miles this month: result 36/60 miles

I am quite happy to be ahead on this goal. I set it low on purpose, but hoped I would do more. This is keeping up my running status so that I am totally prepared for the 10K in May.

I do wonder what it says that I'm ahead in running miles but behind in yarn spinning skeins. The real story here is that I set my miles run goal low (I typically do run more than what the goal was set for), and I set my yarn spinning goal very high. I don't know that I have ever spun 4 skeins in one month's time. The yarn spinning was my true challenge.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

It's us!

Check out this link, on the left side under "Show Sponsor" and "Ringside Sponsor".

It's the first time our farm purchased a sponsorship to an alpaca show (last fall we were part of a group who sponsored a show). We feel it's important to support what we believe as important in the industry.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Spinning Rose

I can't believe I haven't yet spun some of Rose's fiber into yarn. I love her color!! I almost wonder if in a way I've been scared, wondering if I can do it justice. She's a beauty.

Here her fiber is spread out on the skirting table (so I can pick out the hay):

After skirting, I weigh 2 separate bags of fiber. I aim to get 2 batches that will be the same weight and size so that when I spin it into yarn, I will have 2 similar strands of yarn. The goal being that when I ply it, the 2 strands of yarn will match up into a 2 ply skein (though usually I end up with more on one strand than the other - which in a way is ok, as I posted earlier this week, I find ways to use those odd ends).

I forgot to get pictures of the next step, that is where I tumble it in a no heat dryer to get out much of the dirt and debris.

Here it is, ready for me to flick into a cloud and spin into yarn:

My goal had me completing a skein of Rose's yarn this past weekend. This didn't happen. But I am very motivated to get it done before Saturday morning. Then I won't really be behind, as then I will have two skeins completed by the middle of the month, 1/2 way to my goal of 4 skeins for the month of February. (And I am determined not to count the smaller mini skeins. When I set my goal of 4 skeins, I meant 4 nice big skeins.)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


I was going to title this "Incapacitated" but even I decided that was a bit exaggerated.

I do think inconvenienced fits, as I feel really inconvenienced.

This past Sunday I accidentally burned my hand in our fireplace. I don't know how many millions of times I've moved around logs in there and never had a problem, but all it took was a split second when I felt my knuckle hit the metal grate when I knew this wouldn't be good. I thought I snapped my hand away fast enough that there wouldn't be much of a burn. And actually, it's not that bad (and no, that's not me playing it down). It's a second degree burn (there was a huge blister that later broke open), but it's small. The problem being that: 1) it's on my hand 2) it's near a knuckle (moving part) and 3) I can be a wimp.

I've had to keep the area bandaged because it's now an open wound. The first night I noticed fluid weeping out of the blister area. By day 2, the skin that had been apart of the blister completely fell off. If left open to the air, a burning pain begins. I hate messing with bandages.

I'm a huge advocate of hand washing. I wash my hands a lot. And I mean a lot. But I have yet to find a way to wash my hands that doesn't get a bandage wet. So this means lots of bandage changing.

Water on the wound hurts like the devil (not that I know what the devil hurts like but I am guessing). I took a shower with a latex glove over my bandage and hand. I haven't been doing dishes (either my family just accepts I can't do dishes and wisely hasn't suggested I "just wear a glove" or they haven't thought of that angle yet).

Barn chores have been interesting. I can do just about everything, but some activities cause more pain than others. The worst is when my glove rubs up against the bandage, where that entire area is swollen and painful. I did scoop poop on Monday but today I opted not to. It was so painful yesterday. I know I will pay for that later on this week, but for now, I'll chalk it up to being apart of the inconvenience.

I opted not to add pictures to this post, as I am sure no one wants to see it.

On a positive note, I have found a way to spin yarn, despite my hand bandage. I'm half way through a strand of yarn from Rose's fiber.

Monday, February 13, 2012

1st Completed Skein

On February 12, 2012, I completed my first full skein of yarn for the month of February. A beautiful skein from Tehya's fiber:

Better late than never!

This skein is 197 yards long and weighs just under 13 ounces (I think that weight might be off, the yarn might not be completely dry). After figuring out that one hat weighs about 6 ounces, I figure I can get 2 hats out of this skein. One hat knit entirely out of this skein (I think an entire Tehya fiber hat would be lovely, this fading fawn has so much color texture in itself it will be beautiful). I also could knit up another hat with a base color from this Tehya fiber yarn yet with a lot of stripes (I have all those mini skeins mixed with Tehya that would be lovely as mix matched stripes). One skein could = 2 hats!!

I am still a bit behind in my yarn spinning goal, but as usual, I have a plan and I'm fighting to make it work (though I admit I have debated with myself quite a bit what a skein specifically means and what I could pass for a skein but that's a post for another day).

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Left Overs

When working with fiber, I find I often have left over odds and ends. After spinning I might have one strand of a color left over when plying. When knitting I might have a little bit of yarn left over from a project. I enjoy using these odds and ends to make something useful.

For example this weekend I completed a skien of yarn from Tehya's fiber (a fading fawn):

After plying two strands of Tehya's yarn together, I had some left over. I certainly didn't want it to go to waste.

Then I dug out these:

Two small balls of one strand remnants.

One of those remnants was a strand spun from Greyt's fiber (a medium rose grey). So I plyed that with the left over strand from Tehya's fiber. This made a 66 yard mini skein:

The other remnant was an older strand spun from Cafe's fiber (she is a beautiful dark fawn, who is no longer on our farm). This made a smaller mini skein of 22 yards:

After plying I washed them and hung them to dry to set the twist.

Aren't they pretty?!

I was struck by how different they look, even though both are plyed with Tehya's fading fawn color, they still take on a different look.

Then I rolled them into balls:

My thought was to take all these small and partial balls of yarn, and knit them into hats. I love putting stripes in hats, and playing around with different color combinations. I thought if I loosely put them in this plastic bag, I can easily see what color balls I have available, so when knitting a hat I can pick and choose what I think will look best together. I already have a good start on my bag of mix matched yarn:

Each hat knit can be it's own puzzle. What fun!!!

By the way, if you wondered, yes, that is a piece of hay on my couch. Doesn't everyone have hay on their couch? I almost reached to grab it out of the way before taking the picture but then I thought it's really our natural couch look so I left it there. The life of an alpaca farmer.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Saturday Morning Check In

Last weekend I posted: February Goals. It is a list of goals I have for the month of February. I said I would check in every Saturday morning with an update of my progress. I thought Saturday morning was a good time to check in because I would still have all weekend to really work on the goals to help me stay on track.

1 ~ halter train our alpaca juvis: Thunder, Shamballa, Lady Bing and Dutch: result 2/4

The good news is that Zack and I got in 5 halter training sessions this past week. Saturday was a quick session with just juvis (Lady Bing and Dutch, Shamballa and Thunder). Sunday was a full session with everyone (when we did herd health). On Tuesday we haltered the girls with a friend, meaning we put Lady Bing and Dutch on a triple lead with Twilight (so Twilight could show them how it's done). Wednesday we haltered Thunder and Shamballa with a friend (Gabe). I also spent some time alone with Dutch since she is not taking to haltering very well. Thursday was Lady Bing and Dutch again.

I would say I have 2/4 trained. But unfortunately that includes 2 who are 1/2 trained. Shamballa is completely training (though I use the term "trained" loosely as I really had nothing to do with it. He was one of these compliant young things who just took to the halter without any coaxing from me). Lady Bing would be the next best on the halter, she might be closer to 3/4 trained rather than 1/2 way. I have taken juvis to a show trained as good as she is and it was fine. But I'd like her to be a little bit less hesitant. Thunder is 1/2 trained. Yeah I've taken some trained at his level to a show, but it wasn't fun. He does ok most of the time, but sometimes bucks and holds back. Dutch on the other hand is ZERO trained. We have had the halter on her many times, all she does is pull back and/or buck. I can make her move her feet if she walks with another alpaca, but she walks pulled back and defiant. At this rate she'll look terrible in the show ring. I do know if an alpaca cannot walk ok on halter, they can receive a worse place in an alpaca show because the judge cannot see them walk right to judge their conformation.

We have lots of work yet to do. But I'm not worried, as I've trained alpacas like this before. I have a lot of tricks left in my bag. I'm more frustrated about how much time this is going to take. If she only knew that if she just walked fine, we'd leave her alone, which is what she clearly wants. The irony.

2 ~ spin a skein of yarn a week:
result .7/4

This goal I am a bit behind on. I would ideally have 1 skein completed, which I don't. I plyed two very small skeins last Saturday and I started a new skein (a very large skein of Tehya's fiber). I have one strand spun and the 2nd strand about 1/4 of the way spun. I will finish spinning that today, but it makes me behind for a skein for next week. I need to work harder on this goal in order to achieve 4 skeins by the end of February (and no cheating making smaller skeins, as that is not the point, the point is to have plenty of yarn to knit up hats while riding to and from alpaca shows).

3 ~ run 60 miles this month: result 18/60

I am super happy with my progress on this goal. For the month of February I have run 18 miles so far. The breakdown was:

Medium 4 mile run on Saturday,
Long 6 mile run on Sunday (typically this one is 7 miles but I cut it a bit short)
Short 3 mile run on Wednesday and
Hills 5 mile run on Thursday.

I got in all four runs this past week. I did cut my long run short to 6 miles but that was for a few reasons (I very rarely cut a run short, as I believe what I set out to do I can and should accomplish). But it was a combination of my having not run much prior to that run (I took 10 days off of running, then ran 4 miles the day before). I worried what pain I might be in. And it was busy out there on the roads, which meant I was running in the ditch a lot (something I hate to do). I figured 6 miles was great in itself :) And actually I figured with everything else I have going on that meeting my typical 19 miles a week wasn't realistic (which is why I set my goal low at 60 miles for the month).

Thursday, February 9, 2012

My Yarn

Finally there is yarn at oakhavenalpacas on Etsy!!!

The yarn would come in a ball like this:

That yarn was made from fiber off of our male, Tucker, a light silver grey.

Here's a closer look at some of my yarn (this is yarn made from fiber off our male, Greyt Exxpectations, a medium rose grey male):

I love a yarn with a twist, this is a two color ply (a mix of medium rose grey from our male, Greyt, and a fading fawn from our female, Tehya):

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