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?
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.