Hey, what happened to all of my knitting needles?

Having dyed the most scrumptious yarn ever, I began the hunt for the correct size needles to cast on and knit a cowl to dye for. Little problem, people: I seem to be missing the correct size tips for the project in mind. In fact, there seem to quite a few needles and tips missing… you know what happened next. I went on a UFO hunt.

OK, if you are reading this blog post looking for information on extra-terrestrials, go away. Once I posted an article titled “UFO Hunt” to this blog and generated a lot of activity and even a couple of messages signaling how disappointed people were with the “click-bait” false advertising. Go away right now. I’m not saying that I don’t believe in life out there in the universe, I just want to find the black hole UFO’s that have sucked down those needles!

Oh dear. After about a half hour of tossing the stash and going through baskets, bags, and looking in the car (Hey, you can’t expect me to be caught without something to knit. I always travel with a project!), the following UFO’s were located.

Unfinished Mitts
These mitts came out of one of my project bags. The pink mitts just need their thumbs and finishing, and it looks like I hated thumbs so much I cast on another pair of mitts. Don’t ask. There were two pairs of needles here. 
Unfinished Cowl
and out of another bag came this cowl. OK, it was in the car. Under a blanket. Sorry little guy, I’ll finish you up too. Another needle found, but not the size I’m looking for.
Unfinished Shawl
Wow, I totally forgot about this shawl. This is a Benevolence Shawl that I was knitting in a cotton and alpaca mix yarn for summer. Technically, I still have a week of summer left. Don’t think I’ll make it…
Unfinished Sweater
More needles! This is the start of the Guernsey Pullover from the latest issue of Vogue Knitting. I started it in a rush of longing for fall color during a rainy afternoon. There were several needles in the bin with the sweater, including the size that I needed. Gee, this is going to be a great sweater. It would be nice to get it done before the snow arrives…
Unfinished Shawl
I’m still cranking away on the Jujuy Shawl too. I’m just getting to a wedge that will be all pink… I can’t wait to see what that will look like. 

Well, no wonder I seem to be missing needles. Here they are, all hard at work supporting fiber art life forms struggling to get born.  I need a new queue just to decide which UFO to knit first. I thought about putting the names of the projects on slips of paper in a jar, and then I would just pull out the name of the next project that would get finished. Maybe I should have two jars; one for large projects (sweaters and shawls) and one for small ones (mitts and cowl). Hey, that actually might be a good idea. I could knit small projects on sunny days and large ones on rainy days. It could be a plan. I could even have a jar with the names of projects waiting to be started. Oops. I suddenly had a visual of slips jar hopping from the “waiting” to the “UFO” jars. Might be a problem.

Forget the jars. Don’t you want to know what did I did? I cast on the new alpaca cowl onto those size 6 needles I was hunting for, of course. I have knit for three days like a demon and I’m now coming down the home stretch. Doesn’t it look nice?

Unfinished Cowl
This is the cowl that I was just starting in my last post about crock pot dyeing. Last one started, it will be the first one finished. Typical. Isn’t that why we all have UFOs?

OK, this isn’t a queue, but it is a list of all these poor, neglected UFOs. Here are their project notes on Ravelry:

  1. Scleroderma Mitts – my notes include the pattern.
  2. Hawkshaw Cowl
  3. Benevolence Shawl
  4.  Guernsey Pullover
  5. Alpaca Berry Cowl – my notes include the pattern

Have a good weekend everyone. Hope you all get some knitting done!

Alpaca Blues: Knits from the Crockpot

I was so happy with the yarn and the sample I  made from my first crock pot dyeing adventure I was empowered to gather up my courage to dye some more yarn. Two more projects have emerged from the crock pot.

A bit of heaven for the head: A few weeks ago I tied together the leftovers of bulky huacaya alpaca left over from earlier hat and mitts and dyed them a darker indigo using the same infusion and no-stir method I employed the first time around. The yarn was nice, but blotchy, so I overdyed it with a little more indigo to even it out. This week I knitted the yarn into a hat. What do you think?

Hat
Here is the hat. Kind of manly, isn’t it? (Okay, that isn’t a shock as this is an adaptation of the Man Hat by Haven Ashley), but I like the feel of it on my head so I started to think about how to infuse a little cute factor…
Yarn and Hat
I had this much yarn left. Hmmm…
Rosette on Hat
Bam! Knitted rosette is just the solution that I was looking for. I found the pattern for this one in Knitting in the Details by Louisa Harding. I’m debating attaching a bead or button to the middle of the rosette. How about something that looks like a bone button? If you are looking for more details the project is here on Ravelry.

The yummiest cowl ever: that went so well I plugged in the pot and added two skeins of premium sport weight alpaca from Alta Vida Alpacas. I have to be honest here; this is the yummiest fiber I have ever handled and it was a little stressful to wet it down, pour some vinegar over it and add the dye. Still, what could go wrong? Worst case, I decided I would just call up Cari at Alta Vida Alpacas and offer to pay for the yarn. There. What’s to worry about?

What a baby I am. The yarn came out fine.

Yarn
Look, look! Not as blotchy as the first dye batch, but still pretty darn appealing. I’m keeping notes about the dye amounts and temperatures in the pot to get a handle on this. It’s fun; just like keeping a science notebook again. 🙂
Swatch and notebook
Since I’m recording notes about the dye efforts in the notebook I planned out the cowl I want to knit in the same location. I am making a cowl like an earlier one I made in this sport weight alpaca yarn. Here is the swatch that I posted about earlier (link at the top of this post); by laying it over the original cowl I was able to figure out the stitch count to make this one. If you’re interested the original cowl is this one on Ravelry.
Knitting
I cast on Friday using the directions for a Moebius cast on by Cat Bhordi online. Since this is a moebius the knitting started in the middle of the garter section and both edges of the cowl get knitted at the same time. I’m in the blackberry stitch now; at the top of the picture the berries are “up” and at the bottom they are “down”. Fun, huh. This yarn is just yummy; it is developing a little bloom as I work. I’m writing down the pattern as I go so I can get it written up when I’m done. What do you all think of my fun little notebook?

I’ve run out of alpaca to dye, but I found some white handspun last night that is temping me. Time to plug in the crock pot again. Wait. I have an old vegetable steamer. Maybe I should paint the yarn this time and put it into the steamer…

Oh, I am having fun now!

Have a good weekend everyone.

Note: I feel that I should mention that I have two crock pots: one is for cooking, and the other is for dyeing. They are in different colors and left in different places so I don’t get them mixed up. If I use the veggie steamer it will be joining the dye crockpot in the garage and won’t be used for cooking any more. Best to always use an abundance of caution.

MacKenzie Speaks: Abandoned in the Yard

The Mother of Cats has been so boring lately… all she does is spin yarn! The spinning wheel doesn’t like me to mess with it, so my brother and I have been left outside to entertain ourselves.  Alone. In the gardens. It is so hot even the bugs are hiding…

Cat
It could be worse I guess. While she’s inside I have unlimited access to the swinging garden chair. 🙂

My brother Yellow Boy has been sleeping in Darwin’s Garden under the butterfly bush. He’s counting the days until it blooms and the butterflies arrive.

Yellow cat
Was that a butterfly?

The Mother of Cats did take some breaks to work in the gardens. Lots and lots of weeds have been pulled. Some new flowers got planted. She accidentally sprayed Yellow Boy with water. I think it was an accident.

Purple blooms
The purple spiky plant in Darwin’s Garden finally bloomed this week.  Someone, please, tell her the name of this plant!! I don’t think “Darwin’s Bane” is a good name. 
Angelica
She ripped out more of the purple plants and moved over some of this pink angelica. Good luck angelica. Only the strong survive in Darwin’s Garden.

Finally she got the spinning done. Hey, she has been spinning that dog! We have been shoved outside so she could spend time with dog hair? Abandoned for a DOG!! What is up with that!!

I have to admit that this yarn smells pretty interesting.
I do have to admit that this yarn smells pretty interesting…
Yarn
…and the final product (she calls it PuppyPaca) looks pretty good.
Oh. It's pretty comfy. Maybe dogs aren't that bad after all...
Oh. It’s actually pretty comfy. Maybe dogs aren’t that bad after all…

The finished yarn was taken to her friend Deb today and we were left alone again. What is up with all this feline neglect? When will I get the doggy yarn back to sleep on? There was a hailstorm while she was gone and Yellow Boy wailed (not a brave one, that boy) and hid under the bed. The purple plants in Darwin’s Garden all got knocked down…

That's right!
…but she doesn’t call it Darwin’s Garden for nothing. My money is still on the purple spiky plant. Tough luck angelica. 

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

  • The PuppyPaca is a 50/50 blend of dog down and alpaca. You can learn more about the yarn in this earlier post about Jake and the project to make some yarn from his fur. The final yarn (460 yards) is approximately sport weight. Deb plans to knit a small shawl.
  • If you know the name of Darwin’s Bane, please let me know!!
  • No cats whatsoever were harmed during this week (well, Yellow Boy did get a bath…).

 

Alpaca Days

My friends at Alta Vida Alpacas have gotten the first mill run of yarn made from their animals back. Woohoo!! It is Christmas in May! Cari Corley (of AVA) gave me samples to be knit up to help establish some critical characteristics of the yarn: mostly she is concerned with how the knitted fabric will wear, its gauge and the hand of the knitted fabric. They have two types of alpaca on the ranch, Suri and Huacaya, and the sample packages that she passed over the Starbuck’s table to me contained undyed yarn made from both alpaca types. Knit some stuff with this, she said. Like I said, Christmas in May. I quickly stuffed the bags into my knitting tote before she could take them back.

Huacaya alpaca
Look at this guy! The fiber he (she?) produces is to dye for. That’s right, this  fiber will take dye like a charm. The yarn is white right now, but it won’t stay that way for long now that the yarn has arrived.

She gave me some unbelievable Huacaya yarn in a light bulky weight. We decided to knit it into a hat, and the pattern that her husband Dan chose is the Man Hat by Haven Ashley. I knitted it up in a jiffy (OK, it took an evening…) and this is what I got.

As soon as I finished the hat I shot off a selfie of the finished product to Cari. Poor light, yummy hat.

The light isn’t great on this shot because it was late at night (Hello…Midnight Knitter here!) but you can see the details of the hat. I added four rows of K1, P1 ribbing at the bottom as I wasn’t too sure about the elasticity of the yarn. As it turns out, it was not a problem at all. The yarn maintains shape really well and shows the stitch definition through a slight halo. On my head it feels like a cloud of soft warmth. Forget Man Hat; I want this hat. How about dyed a nice red? Should I add a pom pom? A crocheted flower?

There was enough yarn left over from the hat make a mitt (one, only one…) using the same stitch pattern and gauge. Here is the finished set:

Hat and MItt
I need to talk Cari out of enough yarn to make the second mitt… The mitt that I have is like heaven on my hand. 🙂 Ravelry notes are here for the hat and the mitt.

Once I had made the hat (actually, I made a second hat of another run of the bulky yarn that was processed a little differently so that the two yarns could be compared to each other) and the mitt it was time to take on the other yarn that was given to me, a sport weight silky and shiny yarn made from Suri alpaca.

Lace
I decided that this yarn cried out to be made into lace. Since the ranch has pines on the hill by the house I chose the stitch pattern “Fir Cone”. Cool pattern, huh!
Scarf
The yarn is turning into a 7 inch wide scarf that is a joy to knit; once again I’m coming up short on yarn and will have to talk to Cari to get some more so that it can be finished. How long should this scarf be? I’m thinking 60″, but I would love some input.

I steamed the lace to block it a little for the pictures and an amazing thing happened: the yarn bloomed, lost some shine, bulked out a little as it fluffed, and moved way up the softness chart.

Maybe Cari won’t make me give this stuff back.

What color should I dye my new set of alpaca accessories?

 

Putting On The Dog

This is Jake.

Dog
Isn’t this the sweetest face you ever saw?

Jake was the much loved pet of my knitting friend Deb, and he passed over the rainbow bridge some time back, but due to the foresight of Deb a fairly large bag of his leavings remain. Deb saved the handfuls of fur that she brushed out when he was shedding, and a few weeks ago she passed the bag of doggie down to me to see if I could spin it.

Here’s the problem with dog fur. There are actually two types of hair in that coat: the guard hairs are the beautiful shiny coat that we see, and underneath there is a layer of fluffy undercoat; short, not so shiny, and very warm. While the soft and glossy guard hairs seem like they would spin up into yarn, they are actually too slick and stiff to behave themselves in yarn. They spring right out of the plies and poke like crazy. Bad dog!!

The saved fur that Deb gave me contained a lot of the undercoat layer, but the strands were really kind of short. I decided that the best thing to do would be to pull out as much of the locks of guard hair as I could (sorry Jake!) and then blend the remaining hair/down mixture with another longer fiber like wool or alpaca. Deb liked the look of Jake mixed with alpaca, so that’s what we did.

Alpaca
I had a buff colored alpaca fleece in my stash, so I opened up the locks and ran it through my drum carder to make batts. I split each batt, weighed the amount of fiber and put it into a labeled storage container.
Dog fur
I then cleaned up and made matching containers of dog down (with some guard hairs) that would allow me to create 50/50 blended batts on my drum carder with the alpaca and the dog. Good plan, right?
Loading dog down onto drum carder
To do the blending I took a matched set of alpaca and dog containers to the drug carder to make a new 50/50 batt. The alpaca loaded right onto the drum of the carder with few problems. Jake, however, was too short to feed in so I manually loaded him onto the large drum just like I would if I was working with a blending board. I alternated the alpaca and dog to create layers of each in the batt.
Cat meets dog
MacKenzie was pretty interested in the dog down!
Finished batt
Here’s the final carded product of alpaca/dog blend. The sprig on the batt is cat mint because, well, doesn’t it seem appropriate?

The carding has been going slowly because it has been raining off and on for several days, and if it isn’t warm enough my hands get all cranky. I wanted to work outside as there was waste dropping out of the fibers as I worked; best to keep all that out of the house! I finally got several batts finished late last week and the spinning began.

Drafting
Because the alpaca has longer fiber than the dog down it is really helping me with the spinning. There’s dog down in that drafting triangle but it’s behaving itself very nicely. I am spinning the singles pretty fine (for me); the finished two ply yarn will be between fingering and sport weight.
Singles
Here’s the first yarn on the bobbin. You can just seen the cinnamon colored dog escaping the twisted ply. This yarn will have a halo for sure, but I’m hoping that it won’t shed too badly.

I took the bobbin of yarn to knitting this week to show to Deb, and we pulled off enough to make her a sample of two ply yarn that is about 10 meters long so she can see how it knits. She’s looking at shawl patterns while I continue to spin Jake’s fur into yarn. It’s kind of exciting. We are debating what to call the yarn.

Alpaca-Arf? DoggiePac?

I think that Deb is settling into calling it PuppyPaca.

Beautiful Jake. Forever in Deb’s heart, and soon to be a fabulous shawl.

 

Snowfling Mitts are done!!

…and for the first time in quite a while it isn’t going to snow this weekend. Figures, but who am I to complain. Check these babies out!

Snowfling Mitts
These mitts fit perfectly, are very cushy and warm, and I am so happy with how they came out!
Lining of mitts
and they are lined!! I used superwash merino sock yarn for the lining. 

These mitts are the Snowfling Mitts by Tanis Lavallee. The MJ Yarns American Worsted (the purple painted yarn) was just a little bit smaller in diameter then the Malabrigo Rios (black), so I carried the black yarn in my right hand and the purple in my left while I was knitting the pattern. Since the stitches knit with the left hand are a little larger it all worked out to make a balanced fabric. The American Worsted yarn had a little more twist to it and seemed to be denser, which helped make these mitts really nice and cushy inside where the stands are located. So happy with how it came out. There is just enough room for me to slip a hand warmer into the mitt if I need it.

Here are my project details and notes on Ravelry.

In the middle of the week I mowed my lawn for the very first time this year and took out the lawn furniture. This is a major event; spring has arrived!!

Back yard
Doesn’t this look promising? You wouldn’t know it to look at it but two days before this there was snow all over the grass…  Tomorrow I may go to the nursery to buy some hanging plants for the deck. I’m hopeful that we are done with the snow, but it could still happen. I’m keeping those mittens out for a few weeks before I pack them away to wait the the fall’s first snow.
Drum Carder
Since it was so nice outside I set my drum carder up on the patio table and began working on an alpaca fleece that I’ve been wanting to spin. This fleece is just wonderful. It is sooo soft and the locks opened like a dream. It was a joy to feed it into the carder. 
Cat asleep in alpaca fleece
MacKenzie likes it too!

I’m so happy carding this alpaca I was motivated today to go digging in the fleece stash and found two different wool fleeces that are just amazing grey colors. Wow, my spinning wheel is going to be really, really happy. There is some serious spinning coming his way. I hope that the nice weather holds so I can do most of this carding outside.

Have a great weekend everyone. Happy Mother’s Day!

 

 

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!!).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spin the Camelids!!

Saturday was a huge outing for me and my spinning wheel. The wheel has been sulking for weeks, but when I strapped it into the car Friday night it perked right up. Saturday morning we headed up to Boulder, Colorado for a class in how to prepare, spin and blend camelid fibers. We started out with half an hour of travel time to spare. Right. We got caught in traffic (An accident? Construction? I never figured it out, but we were stuck on the road for more than a half hour…), struggled to find a parking spot with enough space to allow me to safely pull the wheel out of the car, and then when I finally got the wheel safely to the ground it immediately fell apart.  Parts rolled away across the asphalt. Sigh. Not the best of beginnings.

Look, any day spent in Boulder (which is right at the foot of the Rocky Mountains) is a good day.  I patched the wheel back together and rolled off towards the class with excitement in my heart. The wheel was almost besides itself in anticipation of meeting other members of its species. We were late, but Boulder is one of those places where time is sort of flexible. This was going to be a day in the shadow of the Rockies spent in a yarn store (Shuttles, Spindles & Skeins) spinning exotic fibers with other people who think it is more important to have cool homemade yarn than a new car. In other words, a seriously good time!! OK, I’m a little bit of a fiber geek, but let me tell you, on Saturday I was with my peeps!!

Spinning Book
This class was taught by Chris Switzer who raises these animals (with her husband) on their ranch in the mountains north of Boulder. In the class we learned how to prep, blend, and spin all of these fibers.
Camel fiber
Camel!! This was prepared roving as the fleece is FULL of nasty and pokey undesirable guard hairs. This camel was a dream to spin. I’m in love. I need to get me some of this!!

Chris also had bison fiber for us to spin. Very nice. Very soft. A ton of work to prepare as the original fleece is uber hairy. You will never look favorably on hay and vegetable matter again after a few hours struggling to get it out of the undercoat that is the spinnable fiber. Chris’s advice: if someone offers to gift you with a bison fleece, decline. 🙂

Fleece
Alpaca fiber prep entailed steps that I didn’t anticipate. You need to de-hair the fleece  before you open the locks for carding. Carding has to be done very gently using fine carders. Washing is optional before spinning unless it is obviously dirty (well, they are animals…) This alpaca fleece has some guard hairs that can be seen at the tips of the locks. If you grasp the hairs and hold the lock in your other hand they can just be pulled out.
Guard hairs from alpaca fleece.
Here’s the hair pulled from three of the locks. Once removed the fiber in the locks can be gently opened up from the base.
Alpaca
Look at all the colors of natural alpaca!
Me spinning
By the end of the class my spinning wheel had fallen in love with me again. New parts are now on order.

I really learned a lot. Suddenly I feel like I could successfully spin that paco-vicuna that I bought two years ago. My spinning wheel is practically hopping up and down to get started (even though it really needs its new part installed before we do that; right now the flyer falls off without warning). I felt so positive about all of this I pulled down the alpaca fleece that I had stored in the garage since 2007 (gasp!) and took a really good look at it.

Alpaca fleece
Look at these locks! There doesn’t seem to be very many guard hairs at all. Woohoo!! It is so clean that I won’t need to wash it before spinning. The locks I pulled out to open fluffed right out into a little rolag. I think I was very lucky in this purchase as I didn’t really know what I was doing when I bought this fleece.  

The fleece is mostly light caramel colored with some cream patches. I may even play with dyeing it. Chris really stressed being gentle in the preparation of these fibers since they are easily broken, and favored hand carders and spindles, but I’m going to made the drum carder work somehow. I’ll be using the spinning wheel, too, as with my scleroderma-hands the less I stress them the better it is. Still, I feel empowered to experiment and super-soft yarn of the paco-vicuna and alpaca variety is right around the corner. Thanks Chris! It was a great class!

Cat on fleece.
Of course I’ll have to spin while the cats are outside. MacKenzie moved into my fleece about 2 minutes after I pulled it from the storage crate. 🙂

Spinning Inspiration: The Estes Park Wool Market

My spinning wheel has been sitting around feeling bored. Actually, it has been moping and sulking in a corner of my office for months now. (I only dropped it that one time. Really. Only a few parts popped off. I totally think that it has been over-reacting about the whole thing…) Hoping to score some fabulous fiber that I could use to tease it back into good humor I headed off to THE YEAR’S BIG EVENT: the Estes Park Wool Market which is held every year in the mountains of Colorado in Estes Park, a wonderful mountain town near Rocky Mountain National Park. I have a lot of yarn in my stash. The wool market is where I find those special yarns and fibers that I can’t easily obtain and petting the animals that produce them is a special bonus!

I planned my outing for early Saturday so that I could arrive in the cool of the morning with the plan of racing through all the vendors, visiting the animals and then shopping for fiber. Thunderstorms are a given this time of year so I wanted to get out of the mountains before 3pm. It was a plan, anyway.

Alpaca
Isn’t this alpaca a great color? He’s not his usual fluff muffin self as his fiber has already been clipped off.
Alpaca fleece
Yep. You guessed it. I have acquired a fleece from one of the animals grown locally. The fleece has several colors in it from cream to dark caramel and is really clean. This fleece is so nice I had to get it into the car fast to protect it from my fellow fiber addicted friends. 🙂
Alpaca lock of fiber
Check out this lock!! It has a slight crimp, is extremely soft and the 4 inch length is going to allow me to spin this baby into lace weight yarn without a problem. (I hope. The spinning wheel will need to snap out of its sulky mood…)
Batt and spinning wheel
I also got a Big Batt from The Natural Twist that I hope to spin a gradient light worsted weight yarn to make a Yowza Weigh-It Shawl 4. This baby is 8 ounces of Romney wool and I can get a whole shawl from it, I’m sure. Doesn’t the spinning wheel look happier already?

This year I was moving fast so I didn’t watch the sheep dogs show or visit the llama events. I did check out lots of alpacas, sheep, bunnies, and goats while I was there. I always have a problem leaving them all there. Surely the neighbors wouldn’t notice one little goat or sheep. Right?

Jacob sheep
This Jacob sheep really, really wanted to come home with me. Look at that face! 
Cashmere goat
This cashmere buck was on sale. For just a few hundred dollars he could have been mine. Those horns, though. I don’t know if the cats would want to play with this guy!

When I was done with the animals and spinning fiber/fleeces for sale I hit the vendor area to see what else I could find.

Yak yarn!
Yak yarn!! You know I needed to add some of this to my shopping bag. I also bought a great pattern for a lace and garter stitch shawlette  called the Culebra Shawlette that will display the handpainted yarn well.

That was it. I could see the clouds were rolling in fast. I only had enough time to buy a bag of cinnamon roasted almonds, make one more chatty stop with friends to compare notes and show off the finds and then I was back in the car heading down the mountain ahead of the storm.

Half an hour later I received a text from a friend. You guessed it. It was raining too hard for her to drive and she was waiting it out up in Estes Park by grabbing a yummy early dinner of grilled lamb kabobs. Darn! I should have been a little slower on the drive after all…

My spinning wheel perked right up when I showed it that huge batt. I’m hoping for a little spell of cooler weather so the wheel and I can get going on making something wonderful together. What do you know? I think that we are friends again.