Sunday, September 29, 2013

The baby sweater

The pattern came from this book:

The baby does not come with it though :( 

The back: 

The front panels (there are 2 that I knit at the same time):


I knit the sleeves at the same time too.  It's the best way to ensure they are exactly the same length. 

Then sew together: 

At times it feels like a big mess that will never amount to a sweater:

And then it works:

I still need a tie closure but otherwise it is done!!! Yeah!!!! 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Michigan International Alpacafest!!

October 19 & 20 are the dates for the fall Michigan International Alpacafest in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

It is true we do not have any alpacas to show this year.  This is one of the shows that we have attended quite faithfully the last 7 years, so not showing alpacas this year seems strange.

But we will be attending the show.   My husband is the show Halter Superintendent.

There are only a couple more days to register for this show.

Friday, September 27, 2013

The last alpacas & new adventures

Thursday morning the transporter came very early to pick up Maxine and Candy for their trip to Montana.  These are our last two alpacas to leave our farm.

It is very bittersweet.  Owning alpacas has been an adventure like no other.   We have had so many stories unfold while working with these creatures. 

I sort of thought since I haven't been doing farm chores (the last 6 weeks the kids have been doing them since I have been recovering from surgery. Not being able to lift more than 10 pounds really limits what one can do).  But alpacas have been part of our everyday lives for six years now, even six weeks "off" doesn't change that.

When we went outside, very early in the morning, to load up Maxine and Candy for the transporter, it felt like it does on the morning of an alpaca show weekend.  So many memories!!

I didn't get good pictures of their last moments on our farm (I tried to take pictures with my phone and it didn't turn out well).  This is what I have:

Don't worry, we are still a farm.  We have our sheep and will be growing our farm in new and different ways! 

I am still working with fiber arts.  I have LOTS of alpaca fiber here to keep me busy for years to come.

New adventures are there waiting for us.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Ready to knit

I left off on the last post with the yarn hanging dry after washing:

It usually takes a couple of days to dry out.

From here, I put it back on the swift, cut off the ties that hold the skein together:

Wind it from the swift to the ball winder:

Now I have a ball of yarn:

I'm ready to knit!!

Monday, September 23, 2013

From wheel to skein

The yarn on the bobbin of the wheel:

It's not the end, there is more to do. 

Most people put it in a niddy noddy.  I hate them so I don't.  I wind it into a skein on my swift instead (my picture did not turn out so I found this old picture as an example of wheel to swift skeining):  

I put ties on it to keep it as a skein:

Wash the skein:

I soak it for about 20 minutes in soapy water:

Then I soak 2x in clear water to rinse. 

Then roll in a towel it dry:

And lastly hang dry (this part takes a couple of days):

Well, not actually last, I still need to make it into a ball to knit from but it will take days to dry. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Fiber to Yarn

So I take that cloud I made in my last post, put it on my lap:

And spin it:

My second hand goes about 2 inches below my left hand there.  The main work happens between my two hands.  That is called drafting.  Drafting is where I get the fibers into place for the wheel to twist it into yarn.

Strand one:

After I have 2 strands I ply them together = yarn!! 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Preparing raw fiber to spin

There are a lot of different ways to prepare raw fiber in order to spin. I've done it different ways myself.  For example, I used to wash it first then flick and spin.  The only reason I don't now is because I lack patience and didn't like waiting for the fiber to dry (it takes days to air dry).  I find it spins pretty much the say either way (though some people like to spin it clean and then some prefer to spin it dirty saying that the fibers grip better).

Of course the easier way is to spin from rovings.  But for those wanting the adventure or maybe they are just frugal (guilty here!!), there are ways to spin from raw fiber.  I have posted these before but it never hurts to show it again ~ the steps I go through to spin yarn. 
First to skirt = shake out the dirt, second cuts and pick out the debris (hay pieces):

Then I weigh it (I weigh out two batches so that each of my 2 strands will be close to the same length):

Tumble in my fiber tumbler (I have posted about my tumbler before, here is a link to how to make one) :

And then flick into a cloud:

My handy flicker:

I use a flicker rather than carders.  With carders you can make rag rolls which would be similar to rovings.  I started out with the flicker and it works so well I have actually never tried carders.  This is one of those things that comes down to personal preference.

My cloud that I can spin into yarn:

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Finally I am able to spin yarn again (recovering from surgery sure interferes with a lot).

I need more of the off white yarn to finish the baby sweater, but I had some brown yarn in process.  Since I only have 3 bobbins for my spinning wheel, I can't start a new yarn until the one in process is done.  So I finished up the brown:

It is done, washed and hanging by our fireplace to dry:

Monday, September 16, 2013

Life changes in a moment

I am often reminded that in a second so much in our lives can change.  From a simple misstep that ends with a broken leg to an unexpected heart attack.  I admit, I don't always remember to be thankful for my health until something reminds me.

Fellow alpacas farmers have had this happen to them.  Sunday morning one of the owners suffered a heart attack.  Things like these are so scary!  Not only is he out of commission to help with farm chores now, but even long term he needs to scale back.  That's hard when you own a farm.

They are looking to sell many of their alpacas, so that they are at a number that is more realistic for them to manage now in their current situation.  So, if you have been thinking about getting into alpacas, or want to increase your herd, here is an opportunity to get a great price and help out these alpaca farmers.  It could be a great win / win for many people.

The farm name is Northernbell Alpacas, LLC and their sales page can be found here.

I have been told prices are negotiable, they state:  "We will entertain all offers!! Please help us sell down our herd."

Sunday, September 15, 2013


All my fiber arts posts have taken over the blog and the animals have been missing.

Here are some pictures of the sheep, the lambs are getting big! 

I am ready for some new babies :) hopefully soon. 

The little lamb I call Chocolate:

An ewe we call Panda:

the Ram:

Here are both of the twin lambs, Chocolate and Vanilla, with their ma between them:

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