Spinzilla 2015

I participated in my first Spinzilla!  If you are unaware of what Spinzilla is, in a nut shell, Spinzilla is a global event where teams and individuals compete in a friendly challenge to see who can spin the most yarn in a week!…Some of these gals are spinning miles and miles of yarn! It is really amazing!

I decided to spin Alpaca, I spun some mill processed Suri and some hand processed (washed and combed by me) Huacaya –   I spun a few hours each night and most of Sunday.

I came away Sunday with a slight backache, but I finished with hours to spare before the midnight cutoff and was happy to sit on the couch!

I spun 2,449 yards, it’s not miles and miles of yarn, but it is more than I thought, so am I quite pleased.

Would I do this again?  You bet!  A great chance to hone your skills.  What would I do differently?  I would choose to spin colorful braids instead of all one color.  Spinning got a bit boring as I spun bobbin after bobbin of brown.  I would buy more bobbins, I worked with 4 (hence the bathroom tissue roll wound with my left over single of suri) and I have 1 year to search for a more comfortable spinning chair!

This is what my goal was. I spun 1/2 the basket and most of the bump on the left.
This is what my goal was.
Suri
Suri
Huacaya
Huacaya
Suri 2 ply
Suri 2 ply
Final - 2,449 yards.
Final – 2,449 yards.

See you next year Spinzilla!

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Cria envy no more!

All spring and summer I have been watching other peoples cria’s hit the ground, the cuteness overload was getting to me! Just like the song says, waiting is the hardest part!, and I was getting a bit envious.

We received the call that our cria was born on July 29th, The Hubs and our not so “baby girl” were just sitting down for Sunday lunch, so we inhaled our food and rushed to the ranch in excitement to see him!

Life is truly amazing –  A beautiful reddish brown suri boy – He is a vigorous boy and nursing well.

Birth
Birth

There were 3 pregnant dams in the OB pasture, Opportune Moment, the girl we were leasing had her cria first, but during that time, no one knew the other dam Bailey was also laboring as she wasn’t showing signs of labor…Bailey kept trying to take the little cria as her own, she even sat on him!  They were eventually separated, and an hour later, Bailey’s cria hit the ground! Now everything made sense! She thought the first cria was her own!

We watched the other dam Bailey passed her placenta – It was fascinating learning what to look for in a healthy placenta and how much it tells us about their 11.5 month or longer gestation.  I was not prepared for the overwhelming feeling of privilege to watch this process  and to hold something in my hands that holds life, it was beautiful, I am very glad the onsite vet Dr. Jana was there and offered us the education. (I’ll spare you all the placenta photos 🙂 )

Over the next week there were antics in the OB pasture, Opportune Moment, our little guys dam is an experienced mother, however, her milk was slow to come in and the cria wasn’t getting enough nutrition, Bailey, the other dam who gave birth to her cria, (another boy) an hour after our little guy, she is also black like Moment, our little cria kept trying to nurse off of Bailey, and he was not welcomed!! He was spit on repeatedly by Bailey, and he stood and took it, he stalked Bailey trying to get to her utter, his persistence did not pay off, so he was supplemented for a week until his Mum’s milk came in, everything is good now and he is growing leaps and bounds, is very curious and is pronking around the pasture with his other mates.

So what did we name him?  Well, our love for Doctor Who had a huge factor in his name…so we decided on Geronimo!  For the non Whovians out on the net (is that possible?)  The 11th Doctor would shout Geronimo! as he ran towards trouble or ran towards his next adventure!

Our first Alpaca will always hold a special place in our hearts – We are now officially Alpacas On The Horizon.

So here we go! Geronimo! On to the next one!

Cria Watch 2015!

It has been a long time since I posted anything!  I have been busy as a bee!

As they say here on the news when a storm system threatens to move in…”Storm Watch 2015″ We always joke about that…we are in Southern California, It never rains here and the last 4 years are a great testament to that!  We are in our worst drought ever, we had more rain this year (7 inches in my area) than we did in all of the last 4 years!!!!  But I digress!

Our first Cria (baby) should be hitting the ground in about 1  month!  We are in a program with a fabulous Alpaca Ranch that allows us to pay for monthly care for an expectant Dam, and when she gives birth, the Cria is ours. – I expect she should be moving over to the Maternity pasture soon.  Her due date if July 14, she is an experienced mother, so we are hoping it all goes smoothly.  It has been great seeing all the Cria being born, we can’t wait to add ours to the nursery pasture.

Alpacas On The Horizon

Our business license has been filed with the State of California!  We officially became a business February 17, 2015!

Now it is time to get busy and build our herd!

The Hat

Back in December, I was browsing through a Cost Plus Market with the hubs, I came across this crochet hat that I fell in love with, I loved the shape, the bow, the edging, everything!! I thought, as I’m sure most crocheters do…I can make that!  So I snapped a picture for reference.

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A few weeks ago, I finally chose some stash I had in the closet, sat down and worked out two versions that I think come pretty close.  One I started with the typical rounds of crochet, but that darn join seem going down one side, totally took the joy away from the hat, so the next one, I worked in a spiral, the spiral flared out more than I would of liked, but I think it worked better and looked very similar to the original.

Prototype 1 - worked in the round with horrid seem at the joins, no scallop edge.
Prototype 1 – worked in the round with horrid seem at the joins, no scallop edge.

The yarn I used as very thick, it reminded me of a “single” in spinners speak, which is what the original was made with.  I ran out of yarn in this color way, so no scallop edge.

Same yarn as Prototype 1- but different color - worked in spiral, and has scallop edge.
Same yarn as Prototype 1- but different color – worked in spiral, and has scallop edge.

Again this is very thick yarn, makes for a very warm hat indeed.  I had enough yarn for a scallop edge, but I am not sure I like it with the scallop.  I might, just add a bow or flower and call it a day.

All in all, I am very happy with the result, I have written down my pattern, and I am going to work it up with some Alpaca that I picked up from a farm up in Oregon this past summer

Spinning Alpaca

The Hubs and Baby Girl and I are waiting for our first cria (baby Alpaca) to be born late next summer, the anticipation is agony! In the meantime, I really wanted to learn to spin with Suri Alapaca before we had our own fleece to spin.  I know I have many months of waiting ahead of us, but my Gemini mind needs to prepare in advance!

Since I am a new spinner, I have been gathering roving, and fiber to build a small stash to learn on, I might add they have all been wool…last year I bought some Suri Alpaca roving from a ranch that was as soft as silk, I was excited to buy it, I was nervous to spin with it.  I wanted to build up my skill first, so I tucked it away in my closet for another day.

As we have settled into the new year, we have defrocked the house of all Christmas items and I finally get a chance to sit down and spin, it has been far too long…I decided to give the Suri Alpaca a go, I was confident enough with my gained knowledge to plow forth….It was a disaster!  The staple length was short, it was full of nibs and it simply would not draft, it was a nightmare, in a matter of 5 minutes my fingers were sore from trying to pull this stuff to draft…ugh! I was disappointed, I wasn’t sure what to do… I also had purchased some Alpaca and Tussah silk blend roving from a Fiber festival directly from a ranch that processed their own Alpaca fleece, this stuff glistened.  I pulled off a piece and decided to spin it and compare…. this stuff spun like a dream!!  I went back to the Suri Alpaca and pre drafted just a tad and it just really fell apart in my hands…I wadded it back up in a ball, threw it up on the table and decided it was destined to be a dryer balls…

Learning to make dryer balls is in my near future!

New Year’s Old Wives Tales

A few short hours from now, we will be ringing in the New Year, we had one or two superstitions growing up in my  house, eating pork, so stuffed cabbage or pork roast of some kind was always in order for new years day, to bring luck, and the other saying that went around our house was, Whatever you do on new years day, you will be doing for the entire year, so to translate that, if you are lazy on New Years Day, you would be lazy all year, if you cooked, you cooked all year, if you worked on New Years day, you worked all year..etc…Although we will not be eating stuffed cabbage this new years day, I will be sure to be productive and prosperous, so that can continue throughout the new year.

What are some of your families New Years Superstitions?

Merry Christmas from Southern California

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We are doing things a little different this year, normally I am running around like a headless chicken trying to get everything finished before Christmas Eve so I can entertain the family.

Not this year, my son and his bride are hosting Christmas this year at their house.  We will spend a quite Christmas Eve day with them, and then Christmas day with the Hubbs and the Not so Baby Girl, nibbling on our traditional bacon wrapped shrimp for breakfast while opening gifts from Santa.  We are excited for Santa, because Santa is still very real in our house.  A new tradition the Hubbs and I started last year is that we will pack up later that night and head out of town before dawn, this year we are driving up to the Redwoods in Northern California, where we will explore, rejuvenate, and recharge.  Nature for our souls.

I hope you are able to spend the holiday with people you love.

See you in the New Year!

 

My first home spun finished object!

TADA!

15364083553_f294a61dd4_kI worked up a very simple Chevron Hat for my not so baby girl using some homespun fiber I wrote about here.  The shape reminds me of a tulip, so that is what I am calling it, the Tulip hat.    The piece uses SSK and half way through, I found the “improved SSK” method on Pinterest…It really makes a neater SSK.  SSK is normally slip one stitch knitwise, slip second stitch knit wise,  then knit the two slipped stitches together, this normally makes for a nice decrease.  The improved method of SSK is slip one stitch knit wise, slip second stitch purlwise, then knit both together.  All I can say is , I will be using the “improved SSK” from know on, it made a HUGE difference on how the decrease laid.  Try it on your next pattern that uses SSK.

I was also very pleased on how the yarn worked up. The true test will be how it holds up to my 10 year old!

Finished!

It seems like FOREVER since I started this top down Cardigan – This lovely sweater has been the single most BORING knit I have ever done! And it moved no where quickly!

But I am oh so happy it is complete! It is light weight, has a fabulous halo, and will keep me warm!

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I have never worked with 100% Alpaca – it has no give to it and I do hope that this piece doesn’t stretch out beyond recognition.  The strands were 3 ply – 1 ply was very thin and the other two sock yarn weight – gave an interesting and uneven texture about the stitches.

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I am going to weave some of this alpaca up into a scarf – I am curious to see how it interacts in a weave. I have another 400 yards left, so I have to find lots to make with it!!