The weather has been cooler this week and she has been sitting outside with us knitting away on the projects that she is calling the UFO pile. Yellow Boy is worried that UFOs are a new kind of bug, and has been hunting for them at the back of the house, but I’m pretty sure it’s stuff with yarn. I love yarn!
She has also been knitting some of the nice yarn that came from Alta Vida Alpacas. She dyed this yarn in her crock pot, and no matter how many times I visit her in the knitting chair she absolutely, positively will not let me play with it. She says that it is special. Hey, I’m special! I think that she needs to pays better attention to her priorities. Cats should come first!
Finally today she got a third project finished and took it outside to take her little pictures. Yellow Boy and I were completely ignored while she tried hanging her shawl in different places in the yard. She hung it in the tree, on the fence, across the garden bench, and on the deck. I’d like to mention that the deck is totally my territory…
She is so happy to have these projects done and has been collecting up all the knitting needles back into their storage cases again. I’m so glad that I could help her. I’m such a good boy!
Can I have a cookie now?
The Mother of Cats would like to mention that the the project notes for her little UFOs can be found on Ravelry:
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?
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.
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.
Okay, July was a month that I am glad to see go out the door. I did have some great moments in the month; my sister and niece came to visit, I worked at the summer camp at Alta Vida Alpacas, and I spun my friend Deb’s beloved Jake dog into yarn. Good highlights!
On the flip side, I lost a war with an invasive weed in one of my gardens and my autoimmune conditions went into high gear. For the first time ever I was unable to sleep due to pain (what is up with my joints and muscles?!), gastritis returned after being good for two years, my Sjogren’s flared (!!) and my lips turned blue. Ugh. I blame the heat and the sun.
Now it is August, I’m on oxygen full time, meds have been changed, and I’m in need of a little cheer. Shawls, I need shawls!! The way things are going right now I want to be wrapped in color. Shawls will give me color, texture, lots of mindless knitting, and defiance in the face of medical adversity. I hit the stash, printed patterns from Ravelry, made my shopping list and when I went on the knitting road trip with my peeps last week I scored everything I needed. May I present to you, Seven Happy Shawls…
How is this for cheerful defiance! I was really torn about which one to start on, but I’m leaning towards Antarktis.
More defiance. This should keep me going in good cheer until the end of the year. I’m torn about the order to knit them; they are all just too yummy for words.
All right August, I am ready for you. Let’s go!!
My Ravelry queue can be located here if you would like more information about these patterns and the yarns that I have selected.
I downloaded Fotor for Windows to make some photo collages instead of posting a million pictures. What do you think? I think that you can also make stuff online. It was free, free, free!!
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?
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.
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.
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:
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.
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?
If there is a downside to being consumed by a love of all things fiber it is this: it is way too easy to stay at home for days on end knitting, weaving, spinning and just playing in the stash. If it wasn’t for social obligations (my knitting group!) and a need to go grocery shopping from time to time I could stay home happily for endless blocks of time.
Really, that probably isn’t all that healthy. How nice I also get to toddle off to Kaiser on a regular basis to give blood, pick up prescriptions, and to breathe into machines that measure my lung function. 🙂
Okay, enough of that. This is about knitting and all things fiber after all. I’m talking about the major outing that I took last Friday to go to the Interweave Yarn Fest in Loveland, Colorado. I didn’t sign up for any of the workshops this year (but maybe next year!), but I felt that I absolutely had to go up to hit the Marketplace and to meet up with my friends from Alta Vida Alpacas.
You know, a huge marketplace filled with vendors carrying everything your fiber-loving heart can desire is a dangerous place. I handled it by cruising through the whole place and picking up cards from the vendors that stole my heart. I took a little coffee break with the cards, gave myself a little talking to while checking patterns on Ravelry, and then waded back into the marketplace to spend money. This is what happened:
Having shopped to my heart’s content I moved out into the atrium to find a comfy chair to knit in while I waited for my friends from Alta Vida Alpacas to get out of their workshops. It was wonderful. Fellow knitters stopped to ask about my Joker and the Thief shawl, and I talked to many people about the hand knits that they wore. I made new friends. I could feel myself recharging with inspiration and enthusiasm as each new person stopped to knit and/or talk with me. Sometimes it is easy to forget that each one of us solitary crafters are members of a huge community, but Friday afternoon as the community flowed around me I was at home with my peeps. What a wonderful, wonderful experience.
Eventually I caught up with my friends: we ate more hummus than is wise and swapped stories, observations, and revelations from the Yarn Fest. They had just submitted their first batch of fiber to the mill and we made plans for the yarn that will arrive in a few weeks. The online store launch is right around the corner. It is only a few months to the next summer camp; this year we will focus on weaving.
Finally, long after dark I headed home full of energy and plans. I hugged my new fiber finds as I went into the house. What a great outing. What a wonderful time I had. What a wonderful experience with other people who share my interests.
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.
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!
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:
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?
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.
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…
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.