Several weeks ago my friends at Alta Vida Alpacas gave me a few skeins of the yarn made in the first mill run of their fiber. I knit some hats and a pair of mitts with the bulky yarn that came from their Huacaya alpaca, and put off working with the sport weight Suri alpaca yarn for a couple of weeks. This was the yarn that they labeled Mill Bag #1: it was soft, slinky, amazing. It just had to be knit in some type of lace pattern, but what?
I played with different ideas and lace patterns, and finally settled on making a scarf in fir cone pattern. You can check out my early efforts at my earlier post Alpaca Days; I finally finished the scarf last week and with no further ado, here it is…
I still had a half skein of the yarn left after finishing the scarf; just enough to make a swatch for another scarf/cowl idea. Cari from Alta Vida foolishly told me I could dye the yarn if I wanted. Hmmm… how brave did I feel? I decided that I was only a little bit brave, but I did want to see how the fiber looked with some color variation. I decided to kettle dye the yarn with my Gaywool indigo colored dye.
The yarn is just crisp enough to make the little bobbles in the trinity stitch pop up while still feeling incredibly soft. I think the two sides of the pattern look kind of cool and complementary (and luckily for me, so did Cari!), and as the cowl will be folded and doubled around the wearer’s head both sides of the pattern will be visible no matter how it is folded. The beauty of a moebius is that there is no wrong side and you can just put it on and rock it.
Cari gave me two more skeins of Mill Bag #1 yarn to make the full cowl. I get to dye them, too.
Gosh, this is going to be fun to knit.
They just sheared their alpacas two weekends ago. I wonder how long it will take for the new batch of yarn to come back from the mill?
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.
Last weekend was Alpaca Farm Days. Oh, my goodness!! Who knew that events such as this existed?
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.
Last week was a ton of fun! I helped out at a Camp Macusani, a summer camp run by Alta Vida Alpacas, which is also the site of Alpaca Partners, an organization “committed to creating quality with purpose in the lives of special needs persons through unique opportunities offered on the ranch.” Wow! Teaching, fiber arts, alpacas and a chance to be involved in something special that is making a difference in the lives of young people facing more challenges than most of us. Not only was this a lot of fun, but it was a special, special week.
So with no further ado, here is the week. 🙂
Remember those pressed flowers? On the last day the dried flowers were used along with pictures taken during the camp to create photo memory books that the students took away with them. They also framed and made pictures using the felt that was created, and their yarn was steamed (to set the twist), wound and made into a little skein. Camp was only about 2.5 hours a day, but a lot was accomplished!
That’s why this was such a special week. By the family pizza lunch on the final day the kids had learned how fiber from live animals (that they learn how to take care of during the school year) is used to create items of beauty and purpose. Someday some of these kids will be creating items for sale in a farm store that will be operated by Alpaca Partners, and some of them may end up working with livestock later on in their lives. Things learned in this camp will be used in the two local high schools that currently collaborate with Alta Vida Alpacas to provide a unique educational opportunity for special needs kids; weaving and knitting with that yarn is a future possibility. If ever I spent a week well, this was it.
I know that I have been a little whiny lately. I started methotrexate a little over a month ago and the adjustment to the new medication has been challenging to say the least. This week was better. Much better. So sorry for the whining. I promise hope that I won’t be doing that again for a long time. Check out all the things that were accomplished this week.
The whole time I was knitting this tee I worried about how big the neck opening was. As soon as it was cast off the needles I tried it on, and yep, too big. I ran a drawstring around the neckline on the inside to draw it up a little and to prevent more stretching. Neckline problem totally fixed: it fits great! The top is loose and a comfy layering piece. I’m thinking that I would like to make a second one with long sleeves using a winter yarn that will be lighter in weight. Maybe in navy blue. I plan to keep that garter stitch band on the sleeve and will continue the sleeves in stockinette below the band.
The lawn seat is coming right along. The fabric will stretch when I sew it into place so it will be more open looking when it is done. I haven’t completely decided how to attach it to the side pieces of the frame. I’m afraid that the attachment solution won’t be very elegant, but hopefully it will be functional.
Wednesday I went out to visit a friend’s alpaca ranch (she has sheep too!!). I am consumed with jealousy. Such cool animals wearing fabulously cool fiber; she has a whole dyeing and processing operation going. I didn’t take any pictures because next week there will be a summer camp there and I get to teach kids how to spin! Ha! Stay tuned for the summer camp report. 🙂
Today I took the car to get its oil changed and battery replaced. I know that this sounds like a small thing, but I am rocking my good week and getting a lot of things done. After I got home I cleaned out the garage and packed my spinning wheel into the car because tomorrow we go to a class to learn how to spin camelid fibers.
That’s right. I still have a bag of paco-vicuna that I am nervous about spinning. The spinning class is taught by Chris Switzer who has quite a reputation as a master spinner of these fibers in this part of the world. I am taking the paco-vicuna bag and a chunk of my alpaca fleece with me to the class to get feedback on spinning techniques for the yarn that I dream of creating. Not that I’m intimidated, but the class registration says to bring some things that I’ve made from my homespun yarn with me. I have spent an hour finding things that I’ve made; I’ve decided to only take two three things. Maybe three is too many? If I take two substandard items she might think it’s a fluke. If I have three, it’s pretty sure that’s the type of spinner I am. Whatever. It’s best to not overthink this. I’ll take three that I like and that will be that. I’m taking the class with a friend who likes to spin crazy lace weight yarn and it is going to be wonderful!!
I finished reading all of the bee books this week too. I feel another post coming on. Some of the books were a little bit of a chore to finish, others were just amazing. Hmmm….