I want you to be the first to know that I have published some of my knitting patterns for scarfs and cowls. These are quick and easy knits. I also did one for the Alpaca Art Cowls that I knit. When you purchase yarn in the shop, I will send a coupon code for you to download one of the patterns for free. Otherwise they are available for $4.00 ea. and you supply the yarn.
As you know, I am a SpinOlution Wheel Dealer. I can't say enough good things about the company and their wheels. Just recently they did an interview with me. They are introducing their dealers on their website and I was the second one to be interviewed. You can read all about it here on the SpinOlution Blog. The picture below is a bobbin full of Suri locks that I spun into a coiled art yarn. If anyone wants to try out the Echo Wheel just contact me to set up a time.
Lately I have been spinning a lot of my Suri locks into an art yarn. The core I am using is a fingering alpaca yarn. First step is I wash my locks. I don't pick them or flick them, I just grab a handful and start spinning. I did a little video so you can see what I do. I am spinning on my Spinolution Echo Wheel with a 16 oz bobbin.
As you can see the yarn is a little kinky from spinning the fibers around the core yarn. In the next video I spin the opposite direction over another core yarn. As I am spinning I push up the locks to get a double coiled and balanced yarn.
That is all there is to spinning this coiled yarn. I will then skein and wash the yarn. I use this type of yarn in my Alpaca Art Cowl knitting and in my Saori weaving. I find spinning art yarns a lot of fun.
Alpaca Suri Art Yarn
All natural white suri locks corespun on cotton. Another soft and squishy yarn. Use as an accent yarn in a cowl or weaving. Buy this with another handspun or mill spun yarn and I will give you my art cowl pattern. Apprx. 4 oz-21 ft
We are not open to the general public, but we do offer private tours. There is no charge for the tour. The tour lasts a couple of hours. We do a sit-down presentation all about alpacas and the ranch. Next you can feed grain to the alpacas, take pictures and ask more questions. After that we offer an optional craft that small children to grandparents can do. You will make an alpaca felted soap to take with you. There is a minimal charge of $8.00 for the mini class. We will have our farm store open for shopping which includes pasture raised eggs to alpaca yarns and products. We like a minimum of 10 people/children to book a private tour. Just email or call us to schedule one.
Grandma Tours now Available
We do get requests from grandmothers who want to bring their grandchildren for a visit. We know that it can be difficult to get 10 people together. We are now offering Grandma Tours once to twice a month. All we ask is for you to contact us so we are prepared for the actual numbers of grandmothers and their grandchildren. Just check out the event calendar for the next scheduled Grandma Tour.
We had our first cria (baby alpaca) of the season born here on the ranch. Its a girl and we named her Dusty. Her and mother are doing well.
These two pictures above are of her at a week old. We just love her.
Our Muscovy Ducklings are getting big. Soon we will have some for sale. These ducks do not require a pond as they are a wood duck. They are great for bug control. We have had no ticks in our yard this year.
This nest has some of our alpacas fiber in it. These are barn swallows and she builds this nest every year over our farm store entrance. The birds are still building nests. Yesterday I saw a golden finch taking fiber from my hanging bird nesting ball. We still have some in our store for sale. Just hang it somewhere close to where you feed the birds and watch them come and take it to build their nests.
Our puppies are 5 months old now. Look how big they are getting. This is Pan our oldest Maremma who is now retired at the age of 13 years old. Clyde is laying in front of him. Pan tolerates the puppies. Clyde likes to give him sloppy kisses.
Here is a picture of Pan and Bonnie. Bonnie is a little troublemaker who likes to lead her brother Clyde to do mischievous things that they shouldn't be doing. Once they reach maturity they will make awesome guard dogs for the ranch. If you would like to see all of these animals in person, email, message or call us to schedule a tour. We like to share our alpacas with you.
It has been a wet spring and we have had more than our share of rain. The weather people say we are above avg by 4-6 inches. We had a perfect window to have our alpacas sheared in May. Here a couple of pics of alpacas before and after shearing, along with all of the fiber that we sheared.
Springtime is a time for babies. We have several Muscovy ducklings that hatched.
We have added something new to our farm this year. Two Hereford piglets. Their names are pork chop and bacon.
Of course there is the beauty of wildflowers in our woods. Spring is one of my favorite seasons.
For the past year I have been spinning on both my Echo and Pollywog Spinning wheels. I want to give you a review of them. These wheels are like no other spinning wheels that I have come across. They are built "one at time" here in the USA. I am just smitten with them so of course I am a dealer of their wheels and accessories.
Have you been thinking about buying a new wheel, but you have a limited budget? The Pollywog is an affordable wheel, especially for a first time spinner. My Pollywog is a wonderful travel wheel. It only weighs 8.5 lbs. I use it at shows, my farm store and at home. I spin my alpaca yarns with it. I also use it for teaching spinning lessons on a wheel. It is a joy to spin and the treadling is smooth & silent as you treadle with your toes, so it is ergonomically friendly. I can spin for hours with it and not get tired. As you learn how to spin on the standard 4 oz flyer head, you can add the accelerator to your wheel for multiple faster ratios or upgrade to the 12 oz flyer head which can hold more yardage and chunky, bulky, art yarns. Yes you can spin chunky, bulky and art yarns with this amazing little wheel. The by-passable orifice allows you to spin bulky, ply creative, or add embellishments. You can add a tube orifice accessory to your 4 oz or 12 oz flyer head if you prefer spinning with a closed orifice. You cannot go wrong with this little wheel. Mothers and grandmothers have purchased the Pollywog for their children & grandchildren to spin with. It is that versatile. If any of my local spinning (or non spinning) friends wants to take it for a spin, just give me a shout out. We can arrange a time for you to try it. I also will have it at all of the shows that I will be vending at. Just look at the new event calender for my schedule here on the website. I did a short video of me spinning an alpaca art bat on the Pollywog. You can see my treadling with my toes.
My other wheel that I purchased for myself is the Echo. This wheel is so much fun to spin with. I purchased the Bulky Yarn Pkg. which includes a skein winder and the lazy kate. It weighs 14 lbs, so it's light enough to carry with it's built in handle. I take it with me to all of my shows. This wheel is easy to treadle , as you are using the balls of your feet or you can use your toes. I can spin for hours with this wheel also. I have spun many art batts into art yarns on the Echo. Some of the yarns are listed here in my store. I also did a short video of myself spinning alpaca art batts. You can see my feet and how smooth it is to treadle. My next wheel purchase for myself will be the Firefly. For other reviews of the SpinOlution line of wheels, visit SpinOlution.com If anyone is interested in trying this wheel, I can schedule a time or visit me at one of my shows. Any questions? Just leave them here in the comments.
Hi everyone. I have been busy working on this new website and blog. I plan to be more consistent on posting now that I have converted to this site. I made a video on how I make art batts with my standard baby brother drumcarder. Please watch and let me know what you think in the comments.
I love to spin yarn from my alpaca's fiber. Before spinning I have to prep my fiber. I usually card all of my fiber. I do it different ways depending on what yarn I want to spin. My default spin is usually 2 ply - dk weight.
Before carding is done I pick open the fibers.
Brother now makes this same picker, which I am a dealer of Brother drum carders. If your interested in purchasing it, click this link. Swing Picker Free shipping anywhere in the USA.
Here is a collage of the fiber drying in the trays, then picked open, and finally put through our dye lot carder.
Then I either spin from a cloud or small batts.
After filling two bobbin with singles, I then ply them with my Roberta Espinner.
Then I skein the yarn and wash to set the twist.
I have been hand-processing my Alpaca's fiber since 2006. I thought I would share with you how I do it. Alpaca fiber does not have any lanolin in it, but it does have a lot of dust and dirt from them rolling in their dust bowls as you can see in the picture below.
During the shearing process we collect the fiber in three different bags. The main blanket, is tagged with the alpaca's name and number 1. The neck and some of the other fiber as number 2 in a separate bag. Then the leg fibers go in a bag numbered 3.
I take the number one bags and place on my skirting table. From this I pick out any hay, pickers or whatever might be in the fiber. I also pull out any shorter fibers. As you can see in these pictures my alpacas fiber is very dirty from rolling in their dust bowls.
After skirting we use a homemade "blowout box" and a leaf blower to blow out most of the dirt and dust. This helps with the next step of washing.
I place the fiber into laundry bags that you can close up with a drawstring. Depending on how much fiber I usually have it separated into 3 laundry bags. Now it is ready for a soak. I like to use Orvus Paste. It is a non PH shampoo (typically sold in farm supply stores). Horse owners like to use this to wash their horse with. You may also purchase smaller quantities in quilt shops as it is used by quilters for washing their quilts. It also can be used to wash your delicate clothes. A little Orvus Paste goes a long way. I scoop out a half a ladle for a full wash load for my fiber.
I have an older top loading washing machine that does not agitate (I was given this machine free because it won't agitate). I use this for washing the fiber. I fill the washer with HOT water and my Orvus paste. I then place my laundry bags of fiber into the washer (after filling). I close the lid and let the fiber bags soak from 30 minutes to an hour or more. (It depends how busy I get doing something else). Then I spin out the dirty water. This washing machine does not spray water as it spins (that is important to prevent felting). After spinning out, I fill again with HOT water. I let the fiber soak for 15 minutes or so, then spin the rinse water out. I fill again with HOT water for a second time and soak for another 15 minutes or so, then spin the rinse water out. Usually my fiber's second rinse water is clear.
I then take it out of the bags and place in this herb/seed dryer trays. This is hanging in my basement with my setup for washing and processing the alpaca fiber.
So this is how I do it. I have never felted any of my fiber by washing with hot water. If you were to agitate with the hot water and soap, then yes you could have a felted mess. If you try this, please remember no agitation allowed!