Tuesday, January 29, 2013

That Suri Yarn

I finished this skein of suri yarn, adding 120 yards to my spin meter for the year!

Check out my spin meter (over on the right side column) ~ over 400 yards already :)

 A closer look:

The whole 120 yard skein:

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Remember the twist

This is what I did with that small skein of two color twisted yarn:

I like how these two skeins look together:

Now to knit it before J finds it :)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Warm in the Cold

Spot is fine in the cold, he snuggles into the hay when he wants.  And the alpacas have that heavy coat of alpaca fiber to keep them toasty warm.

I, however, am not made for this cold.

But I have found a few tricks to keeping warm.  And best yet, most of these things I have found without having to pay major bucks to a fancy outdoor specialty store.  I know some people will swear by how warm certain products are, and that's great if that is what works for them.  But I have always wanted to be more frugal and believe it's possible.

The biggest trick I have is interweaving layers.  This is absolutely essential.

For example, I start with my regular attire ~ athletic socks and running pants:

The big issue here is that there is a gap between the socks and pants.  This is where the cold will target.

So, I put a layer over that gap.  Here is a thermal sock, over my regular sock, with my running pants tucked in = gap closed:

Since gaps are the weakest point, I have another layer covering this gap, my farm pants:

A say farm pants because these really aren't snow pants.  I know they sell very warm snow coveralls in farm stores or outdoor specialty shops.  But the honest truth is that when I get busy doing chores, I warm up, and those real snow pants would be too warm for me.  These pants are a pair of nylon (they seem to be water proof) pants that are big on me, so they fit over my regular pair of pants.  These pants are perfect!  They keep out water and wind and provide some warmth, but I don't get too hot.

I top off this layering with boots:

I do the same type of laying around my waist (shirt, then pants, then put my farm pants over my pants and tuck in my shirt, the jacket).

And I do the same type of layering on my head.  If it's warm out, nothing goes on my head.  If it's cool, I wear a wind breaker with hood and I put that on.  If it's colder I wear a stocking cap.  Colder yet = stocking cap and hood. 

The best part about layering is that I can adjust it to the temperature outside.  Because just as important as being warm, it is important not to sweat.  If you sweat out there in the cold once you cool off from the sweat you will be cold and there is no warming up from that damp cold.  So if I feel like I am getting too warm, I stripe off a layer :)

Friday, January 25, 2013


No that isn't a misspelling of siri :)

Suri is a type of alpaca.  There are two types: huacaya and suri.  We have had huacaya alpacas since we started in this business in 2007.  However, in 2012 my husband added in a few suris. Now, this was recent and we don't have fiber off of our own suri girls yet.

I am spinning up this suri as on order for someone else.

Typically the huacaya alpacas are described as fluffy, or teddy bear like, while the suris are described as having dread locks.

With huacaya I often talk about bundles.  Well, with Suri it is called a lock:

I get it ready for spinning, placing the prepared locks on my lap:

And I finally had someone at home while I was spinning to take a picture of me drafting:

Drafting is what happens between my two hands.  My left hand holds the strand of yarn being twisted from the turning of the spinning wheel.  My right hand is on the cloud of fiber.  Between these two hands I pull the strands of fiber straight so that they will twist into yarn.

Now, there are different ways to spin.  Some spinners are very careful to make the drafting area extremely even in numbers of fibers so that their yarn is very consistent.  Some even brag about it looking just like mill spun.  That is where they lose me. If I want mill spun, I'll get mill spun. I like the inconsistencies of hand spun.  That's why I spin.  I think it adds texture and character to whatever is made out of the yarn.  So, I aim for character :)

An interesting note about drafting, and I have found this to be true, the distance between your hands should be about the length of the fiber you are working with.  If the strands are 4 inches, then your hands should be about that distance apart.  For this suri, it is longer than most of the huacaya I have spun, so my hands are further apart.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Cold on the Farm

It got even colder out.  The low over night was -8*F.  Today when  I went outside for farm chores it was 3*F out, and by the time I came in it was 5*

The animals are eating more hay to keep warm.  But other than that, I don't notice much different with them.

Spot enjoys a nap in the girl's hay bin:

Guess I woke him up :)

Cocoa is happy to see me:

Could Ruby be any cuter?

We have a coat on Ruby because she's still pretty small.  We had hopes it would help her grow.  It hasn't.  But she's making it through the cold without issue.  Patty next to her has a coat on too.  She's s suri which means her fiber hangs down.  She looked cold (but maybe that was me projecting).

Princess was busy eating hay:

But she's not as busy as Rose, who wouldn't even look at me!  Lady Bing  is always so photogenic :)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


When I make yarn, I make a two ply yarn.  Sometimes I have a little bit left on one strand.  It just so happened that with my last two skeins, I had a little bit left of each color:

So I made a small skein of two ply color twist yarn.   This one is 18 yards long.  A very small accent skein.

I love having these twist skeins of color for knitting up product.  A hat looks so sharp with a twist of color around the edge, or a strip part way up.

So add on 18 yards to my spin counter :)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Cold Snap

There has been lots of talk about the winter weather - cold and snow.

Well, so far we haven't gotten much snow:

That is my sweet Tehya.  Tehya was born on our farm the first year we had alpacas.  She is sweet, and has beautiful fiber (won many an award in her day).  Now she is 4 years old, but still a baby girl to me.

We have barely a dusting of snow so far.  But I have heard just south of us there is lots more snow.  We could get hit yet, we are in a warning zone.

However, the cold is here!

The sun is out and shining, yet the temperature has been steadily falling all day.  They say it will be around 0*F overnight and only in the single digits tomorrow.

So, for our farm animals, we have to make sure no one is cold.  They have a nice layer of bedding to cush in to be warm.  They have warm water to drink.  And most importantly they have hay to munch on whenever they want.  By eating hay their stomach has to work and that is how they produce heat.  During these cold spells we go through more hay than our usual, but that's what is needed to keep our animals warm and healthy.  I always make sure to put out extra hay. I would not want any one of them to be cold and not have hay to eat.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

More Yarn

I finished a 150 yard skein today :)

I plyed it:

  Washed it:

And hung it up to dry:

It helps to have a nice fire going.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Not yarn for long

At our house yarn is suddenly turned into product:

J knits faster than I can spin, so any yarn I want, I have to grab and hide.  This here is one of his newest scarf creations.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Busy Working

There are always projects going on around here:

A little flicking to make a cloud:

And spin it into a strand of yarn:

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


It's true, I'm one of those pinterest people :) 

I have added a Pinterest button to the pictures on this blog ~ go ahead, look back at a post with a picture and hover over it, a little P will appear.  This way I can pin any picture I want. I can add them to my Fiber Arts folder, and start the Cute Cria folder.

I'm not a tech savvy person so whenever I can actually do something like this and it works, I get really excited! 

Friday, January 11, 2013


It's hard to verbally explain how to spin yarn, but I thought I'd try to capture it in pictures.

The wheel spins and that is what twists the fiber into the circular yarn shape.  My left hand holds the fiber and the twisting from the wheel comes up to where that first hand is placed:

Now my other hand is on the cloud of fiber, pulling the strand so fiber into a neat form so that it can twist into yarn.  This is called "drafting" and it is the essential part of spinning yarn.  It's also the point where most people struggle.

Here is the start of drafting - you can see the cloud of fiber is pulled more straight than in the picture above where it is at a stand still.  I keep pulling it straight with my right hand = drafting.

I wish I had another hand so that I could take a picture of drafting in action.  If I can get one I will insert it here.

From cloud to drafting to yarn:

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Winter Water

This winter I am getting water from a box!

This is a new contraption but I am so very excited about it.

We usually get water from the side of our house:

In the summer I hook up a hose to that spout and we fill all the animal's water buckets easily.  Zack loves this job.  He will fill water buckets and spray himself then spray the animals. In the summer, water is fun.  During the spring and fall we can use the hose, though I will unhook it at night just in case we get freezing temps (having the hose on the spout when it freezes could cause water to freeze in there and ruin the spout).

Then there are the times during the year like now when even daytime temps are below freezing.  The hose doesn't work at all (any water in there is frozen and blocks the hose).  The last couple of years this meant filling buckets on the ground by the spout and lugging them up the hill.  It's not a terrible hill, but not a fun one for lugging two 5 gallon buckets up either:

Zack couldn't mange this on his own, so water becomes my chore.  It's great strength building for my arms but I was open to other ideas.

J came up with water in a box.

We have another water spout in our garage, which is at the same level as our pasture area and alpaca shelters (no hill to climb).  However, when J hooked up the hose there, it froze (even though our garage is insulated).  With high temps in the 20's during the day and colder at night, it was too cold to keep the water flowing.

So he built this box:

It sits in our garage covering the water spout.

Inside the box is our hose hooked up to the water spout, and a light:

When the light is turned on, it creates just enough heat that the water does not freeze:

We turn the light on, and keep the box closed to warm it up, then we can use it when we need it.  Zack can pull the hose out and fill all our buckets with ease.

We've been using this for a week now and I have to say, it works great!!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Cria for 2013

We have at least six females bred for 2013 cria, and another two that we bred but we aren't sure they have held a pregnancy.

We set our Due Date for 350 days gestation.  Alpaca farms vary in what date they use for a due date, many use day 345 or day 335.  We've found that our girls typically deliver closest to day 350, but we also start "cria watch" 30 days prior (day 320) just in case.

Here are our due girls (links provided to their Alpaca Nation page):

05/24/2013  ~  Cocoa bred to Tucker

06/08/2013 ~ Mysteria bred to Greyt

06/08/2013 ~ Rose bred to Smokey

07/20/2013 ~ Cherry bred to Soldier of Fortune (suri)

08/05/2013 ~ Jewel bred to Greyt

08/15/2013 ~ Twilight bred to Gabriel (possible pregnancy)

08/16/2013 ~ Gigi bred to Gabriel (possible pregnancy)

10/02/2013 ~ Tehya bred to Vamil

Friday, January 4, 2013

Spinning for 2013

I thought this year I would add a Yarn Spinning Widget to the right side of my blog.  This will help me keep track of how much I spin.

It helps that I finished a skein on New Years Day ~ I already have several yards down.

The big thing for this is that I need to update it each time I complete a skein.  That is often where my downfall is.  I get excited that it's done and forget to document it.  I am really going to work hard to be dedicated to documentation.  I am very curious how much I will spin this year.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Updating Events for 2013

Several of my lists and links on the right side of this blog are date sensitive - such as our list of events and the cria due dates.  I have been working on updating these.  But that also means firming up our show plans for 2013, and confirming pregnancies for 2013.

At this point we plan to attend 2 spring shows:

+   March 9 & 10, 2013: Best of the US Alpaca Show Columbus Ohio

+   April 27 & 28, 2013: Great Midwest Alpaca Festival Madison, Wisconsin

With the possibility of adding a 3rd depending on how busy we are, how are animals are doing in the ring:

+   May 2013: Buckeye Alpaca Show Columbus, Ohio

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Our Cria of 2012

I made this post when I was trying to fix the "Top 10" for 2012. It was all messed up.  But who doesn't like baby pictures?!  So I thought I'd post this part again since I had it ready anyway.

In 2012 we had six cria, the most we've ever had!  (links provided to their birth story)

 6/6/12 OHVNA Raspberry Coolatta (Latte x Tucker)

6/7/12 OHVNA Storm Warning (AKA: Stormy) (Sancha x Greyt)

6/16/12 OHVNA Ruby (Jewel x Tucker)

8/4/12 OHVNA el Diablo (Victoria x Tucker) 

8/18/12 OHVNA Cornelia Marie (Bay x Alchemy) 

8/19/12 Night of Greyt Exxpectations AKA: Night  (Maddie x Greyt)

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