Alpaca Farm Days at Alta Vida Alpacas

A few months ago I ran into someone I knew from my last job, Cari Corley, while cruising the booths at the Interweave Yarn Fest. What a shock; she had an alpaca ranch!! She practically had me at hello; a few minutes into the conversation I had volunteered a set of drop spindles and offered to help at her summer camp for special needs kids. The summer camp was great. One thing has led to another over the last few months. I began to design and knit mitts for them and we have plans for many other patterns and projects. Cari had me put the dates for Alpaca Farm Days into my calendar and I began to realize that this was an event.

Cat at Comptuter
Last week Cari and I worked late into the night while we edited the patterns for our mitts via e-mail. MacKenzie was extremely helpful during this editing process…

Last weekend was Alpaca Farm Days. Oh, my goodness!! Who knew that events such as this existed?

This really was farm days!! The Corleys had a sign out on the highway inviting people to visit the ranch. There was a steady stream of cars onto the property
This really was farm days!! The Corleys had a sign out on the highway inviting people to visit the ranch. There was a steady stream of cars onto the property bringing loads of friends and strangers who wanted to see the animals. This pen contains “the boys”, the young male alpacas who aren’t yet ready to mix things up with the stud males. The black and white llama is their guard animal.
stuff
There was a sweet little shelter and farm store that offered information about alpacas, bags of alpaca food, and alpaca-related products for sale such as yarn, scarfs and hats. There were little kits with yarn and beads made up with the patterns that Cari and I had created along with knitted samples. There was also home-baked cookies and free water for all.
Boys and alpaca
The pasture containing the alpaca moms and crias was open for everyone to enter. For all the kids it was a dream come true!
Girl feeding alpaca
The kids all bought little bags of alpaca food…
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which was greatly appreciated by the animals! There is a sheep pushing in for her share too in this picture. Why did I not get taken to event like this while I was a child. This is way better then a petting zoo!

The two days were extremely busy. While the kids fed and petted the alpaca the adults asked questions about alpacas. Many were interested in how to acquire their own stock. Others wanted to find out about alpaca yarn, fleece and finished products such as the woven scarfs and the knitted mitts. I sold my first mitt and pattern, and gave my name to the knitter in case she needs help. The little stuffed toy alpacas were all sold out and many people took away wicker balls full of alpaca fiber for birds to use as nesting material in their yards.

Everyone learned more about the ranch and Alpaca Partners. It was extremely successful (but tiring!). At the end of the day Sunday Cari began to talk about organizing Saturday morning craft days and holding another farm day event in a couple of months when the weather get colder and we begin to near the holidays. That is the best part about Alta Vida Alpacas; not only are they raising alpacas as a business, there is a serious commitment to serving and interacting with the community.

Oh, boy! I took home a case of fabulous yarn to start knitting more mitts.

Time to cast on. Fall is coming fast!

First Week in September: Three Bowls, Three Mitts, and a Reyna Shawl

I am knitting and crafting like crazy. Actually I’m enjoying the balmy weather of summer’s end and I’m a little nuts because I just can’t seem to get everything done. The flowers on my deck are at their best. The crickets are chirping. The temperature outside is just about perfect and I am spending my time clicking knitting needles and feeling a little less than my normal cheerful self (more about that below). Still I am making progress and the setting is just about perfect. This afternoon I decided to set up the laptop on my backyard deck and let you all know what I’ve been up to. Here it is.

My sister’s birthday was the 5th of September. I bought her a card a couple of weeks ago and I sat down and got these bowls done in plenty of time to send to her. Here the are!

Fabric bowls
A set of fabric bowls. Bet she never saw this coming! She does sew a lot and I thought that she might find these useful in her crafting area or maybe on her desk. I found the pattern online at Quilter in Motion.
Fabric Bowl
I just love the fabric! This is a Laurel Burch pattern that I found last year.

I still haven’t mailed them off to my sister. They are now days overdue but I do have an excuse (OK, it’s pathetic, but still… It’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!). My rheumatologist started me on a new medication for my systemic sclerosis (scleroderma) called CellCept, and it just doesn’t like me. Every part of my digestive system hurts!! Boo! Today I got up and decided that I am done with heartburn (not to mention middle of the night barfing) and e-mailed my doc to ask for something else from the land of pharmacological wonders. This morning I didn’t take my pill and this afternoon I plan to make the trip to the post office. Hang on sis! They really are coming…

Now the knitting makes sense, doesn’t it. No matter how upset my digestive system is I still manage to eat (yogurt is my friend) and knit. Lots of knitting has been going on. I dug in this last week and worked like crazy on the mitts that I am designing for Alta Vida Alpacas for Alpaca Farm Days which happens later on this month. They plan to sell kits of yarn with the pattern to visitors to the farm. I’ve been trying to make simple patterns that show off the yarn. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

Mitts
This yarn is sportweight, 50% cotton (which gives it some slubs and texture), 25% wool and 25% alpaca (yum!). The yarn knits up great, feels light on your hands but is also soft, comfy and warm. I wanted them to look easy to knit (hello… trying to sell some kits here!!) but appealing. Please lay on the feedback people!

Like those colors? This is Colorado (AKA Broncos  Country) and the football season starts this coming week. Yeah Broncos!! The thumb on the stripped mitt is a little different from the usual shape that I favor and I’m still thinking of knitting a stripped version with slower increases. The thumb on the solid mitts is more like what I like to knit and wear. It fits your hand with no pull across the hand and the ribbing on the top of the thumb is loose enough to allow you to wear the mitts over gloves. (Reynaud’s makes you think about things like that!) Be honest here: does that stripped thumb look goofy? Should I change it?

Beaded Mitt
Beads! This is the same yarn in a version with some fun and glitz. The picot CO was new to me. Here’s the link to an online tutorial that does it the same way that I did. 🙂

So the knitting continues. I want to make the mate for the beaded mitt before the end of the week, and then will do a pair of stripped mitts with a more gradual thumb increase in blue and off-white. Next I have to write the patterns, but I’ve kept lots (and lots!) of notes while I knitted so I am feeling pretty positive about that next step.

Finally, I’m making some steady progress on the only knitting project that is just for me. Check out the Reyna shawl that is finally getting towards the end of it’s knitting journey.

Reyna Shawl
I’m finally on the last section of mesh lace. I’m pretty nervous about the size of the ball of yarn; it’s clear that there isn’t enough to finish the shawl as the pattern is written.  I’m weighing that ball fairly often so I can figure out when I need to stop knitting lace and switch over to the last garter rows and the BO. I’m giving myself about 7 grams to get the job done. 
Knitting
Here’s a close-up of the pattern. I learned some new things as I knitted this shawl. The YO’s in the garter section are hidden by knitting in the back loops on the wrong side rows.  Who knew that was a thing? I’m liking how it looks, however, Here are my project notes on Ravelry.

That’s the week. I’ve been reading a lot too, but I think that should wait for another post. And the flowers that I’ve got blooming on my deck are so fabulous they are crying for a post of their own…

Hope you all had a great week (and no barfing!!).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FO: August Socks are done!

August! This is my favorite part of summer. The flowers are blooming like crazy, the monsoon is cranking moisture up to Colorado for afternoon showers, and the hummingbirds and butterflies are cruising through the backyard every morning. The cats and I have been outside too for knitting and bug chasing.

I finished my August socks while sitting out in the garden this morning. Since the cats have been hanging out with me the entire time I was knitting these socks I thought MacKenzie might enjoy posing with them.

Cat and Socks
MacKenzie is my good boy. Usually if I just slowly ease my knitted items into his personal space he’s OK with things. Today that back foot came right up…
Cat and Socks
He flashed his “this is completely unauthorized and you are now in trouble” look,
Cat and Socks
and there was a chomp. Luckily he wasn’t very serious in his protest and I was able to extract the socks (and my foot) without any damage. Don’t you just love cats? It would have been nice if he had given a little warning noise first, but no, he had to go right to the claws and teeth!

OK. Message received. Having been denied assistance by the cat most likely to cooperate I decided to pose the socks on one of the garden tables. (I know; very boring but no teeth!!) Look at how great the Seafoam Stitch shows off the yarn!!

Finished Galvez Socks
I decided to stop the seafoam pattern at the top of the foot because I usually wear socks inside of lace-up shoes or boots during the winter. I lightly steamed the seafoam portion of the sock with my steam iron to set the stitches which really calmed the knitting down.
Socks on my feet.
The stockinette fits my fat little foot better too. I’m really happy with the way these came out.

These socks are the  Galvez Socks by Debbie Haymark. The pattern is in my copy of Lace One-Skein Wonders edited by Judith Durant. Here are the project notes on Ravelry.

Gosh, I finished those fast. There’s lots of August left before I need to think about socks again. I promised a friend to help out during Alpaca Farm Days next month. I feel an urge to knit lots of little fingerless mitts (out of alpaca of course!!) to show off (and sell!) to visitors to the farm… 🙂

I can feel the midnight knitting coming on!