Archives for posts with tag: alpaca

I demonstrated drop spindling with my Turkish spindles at the Great Midwest Alpaca Festival this weekend for the third year running. Many adorable alpacas to look at, as usual–even a few that submitted to light cuddling–but the crowd seemed decidedly sparser than in past years. It was nice that I got a lot more time this year to talk to and teach each individual person who came by, but it was surprising. Maybe the great alpaca pyramid scheme is finally starting to crumble.

Best quotes of the weekend:
“Oh, the lady who made it isn’t here? Well, can’t you sell it to me while she’s gone? I’d pay, like, $25 for it.” –young blonde fashionista who wanted to buy a white pure alpaca handknit lace cowl being displayed in the fiber demo area–the Flared Lace Smoke Ring pattern, if I’m not mistaken, worked in a heavier yarn

“I don’t know if I can do this drop spindling thing. It looks fun, but my cats would go crazy for it. (Pause.) I have eight of them.” –a nice lady keeping those crazy crafter lady stereotypes alive and well

“But the wood just feels so good!” “That’s what she said!” –an exchange between fiber demonstrators following the most (inadvertently) suggestive nøstepinde-fondling I have ever seen in my life or ever hope to see

And here are a few photos:
Well-dressed man leading cranky alpaca:

Ooh, topical!

Alpaca

Alpaca

Me in action! Note I’m wearing a goofy novelty t-shirt from the neighboring stall. It says “Suri.” I want my entire wardrobe to consist of novelty alpaca gear someday. A few other items I liked: a baseball cap that said “SPIT DEFLECTION UNIT,” another that said “No spitting below the red line” (with red line drawn just above the brim of the cap), a t-shirt saying “Beans there, dung that!” with a picture of alpaca poop and a smiling alpaca, thong underwear saying “ORGLE ORGLE ORGLE.” Oh, and a shirt that was basically Three Wolf Moon except with a trio of alpacas.

There was also a breeder called Green Bay Alpacas!!!! I can’t tell you how badly I wanted a green and yellow t-shirt with their logo.

And I didn’t see this at the show, but found it online just now. Look out, Sartorialist, I’m coming to getcha.

You may have gotten to the end of this post and wondered what the “grass mud horse” bit was all about. Here you go. I found out the other day that alpacas are apparently a symbol of resistance to Chinese internet censorship! Love it. My Suri shirt is now a protest shirt.

Also, I’ll be in Boston and New York for the next two weeks or so. Is there any exciting crafty stuff I should check out while I’m here?

I knit the Latitude and Longitude samples for the pattern photos in the garishly bright colors Noro is famous for, because they’re lovely and eye-catching. However, the very first Latitude and Longitude hat I made was actually in much softer shades of Silk Garden–one shade, color 267, is all earthy browns and grays, and the other, 241, was the most beautiful blend of purples ranging from the blue to the red end of the spectrum, in saturations from pale lavender to deep Tyrian.

I misplaced the finished hat (made in March 2009) for ages and thought it was lost for good, but recently, as we were cleaning around the house, I unearthed it again in a box under the bed. I thought I’d show it to you:

This seemed like a valuable lesson in color theory. I loved the two colors individually, or when I held them up against each other in skein form, but the purples and browns are too close in value and the stripes just kind of blend together in the finished hat. Not that I don’t like it, but it isn’t really the best pair of colors to show off a striped pattern.

Far more subtle–to the other version’s tropical macaw,

this might be more of a backyard bird–a purple martin or sparrow.

I also recently finished another Latitude and Longitude knit in calmer colors than the samples. This one a scarf, knit in Cascade Eco Duo.

Pattern: Latitude and Longitude scarf

Size made: Finished dimensions 5.5″ x 78″

Yarn used: Cascade Eco Duo, a kitteny-soft worsted weight singles blend of 70% alpaca and 30% merino. This is the softest, fuzziest yarn I’ve felt in a long time, and it comes in a bunch of naturally colored, subtly striping colorways: I chose 1705 and 1703, one colorway white and cream stripes and one colorway shades of gray, from palest smoke to darker slate. They were 40% off at an Easter sale at a local yarn shop, and each skein has 197 yards, so I only needed the two skeins instead of 4 like the Noro. I loved this yarn–I’m sure it will pill like crazy later on, but it is so, so, soft, it seems like a fair tradeoff.

Needles used: US 8 (5.0 mm) for the first few inches of the scarf, and US 9 (5.5 mm) for the rest. I cast on with the smaller needles since they were handy, but switched to the larger needles once I got a chance.

Date started: April 26, 2010

Date completed: May 30, 2010

Mods/Notes: Since my yardage was a little shorter with the 2 skeins of Cascade than with the 4 skeins of Noro, I decided to cast on 35 stitches to produce a longer/skinnier scarf. It came out to a very good scarf length, and I’m very happy with it, though I suspect there may be a lot of scarf stealing come winter–Rahul liked it a lot too, put it on as soon as I finished it, and asked (hint hint) who I had made it for.

Like the purple and brown Noro hat, it is in soft natural shades instead of vibrant dyed ones, but I think the colors contrast well enough in the scarf that the reversible vertical/horizontal stripe patterning stands out clearly.

Just look at how soft and fluffy this yarn is… does the fluff factor show up in this close-up?

I wanted to take some better pictures of the hat and scarf modeled, but since it’s high Midwest summer and about 90 degrees and humid both in and outside at all times, I instead opted for the ever-stylish “winter watchcap and alpaca scarf over cotton sundress” look. I had a black wool coat on over the dress for about 2 seconds before giving up and flinging it off.

And last but not least, because it fits into the color scheme, here is a picture of my current WIP–the Shalom Cardigan in Elann Peru Soft, color 801 (a bulky-weight but light and fluffy singles yarn–about half acrylic, half natural fibers–I resisted when it was first posted, but caved in and bought a bag when they had it on sale for 10 bulky-weight, 98-yard skeins for $18; decided to do penance by casting on right away instead of letting it marinate like all the other perfectly good yarn in my house).


The contrast between this and the last chunky weight gray yarn I used (Rowan Yorkshire Tweed Chunky) is striking. The Rowan feels very sturdy and rustic, heavy, rope-like–texture-wise, the Elann yarn is like an airy loaf of Wonder Bread, while the Rowan is like a tooth-breakingly dense loaf of whole grain, like black rye or Vital Vittles whole wheat. No wonder, as the Rowan weighs 1 gram per meter while the Elann weighs only 0.55g for the same yardage, though to be fair, the Rowan recommends only 12 sts/4″ and the Elann yarn a much lighter gauge of 15 sts/4″, so “bulky” doesn’t quite mean the same thing here.

Anyway, it’s nice, and I hope the cardigan fits in the end… this is a free pattern, and the sizing is a bit haphazard in the original pattern anyway (it only includes one size), so I took a seat-of-the-pants approach to gauge and sizing on my version. The stitch gauge turned out to match but not the row gauge, so I’m recalibrating as I go (and already had to frog and reknit an inch or two). I’m planning to add buttonholes all the way down, and add long sleeves.

Alpaca time!

I’m going to be demonstrating drop spindle spinning at the Great Midwest Alpaca Festival again this year (look, I’m on their webpage now!) I had a great time last year and although I’ve been doing way more knitting than spinning in the last six months, I plan to bring my family of Jenkins Turkish Spindles to entice people into spinning. (How ’bout that referral program, Wanda?) Because so many people asked me about my spindle last year, I think I might make up some cards to give away with spinning info/resources:

Anything I’m forgetting that would be helpful?

Anyway, if you happen to be at the festival browsing for alpacas that day, please stop by and say hi 🙂

It’s been getting cold, and closer to Christmas, and both of those are inspiring a stream of little bagatelles…

I forgot to include my ball of gray Cotswold-angora roving in this picture (and the dishwater gray Hideous Panties) but I thought it would be nice to put together a little still life of the various grays, cool and warm, matte and shiny, that I’ve been working on lately:

In the back, my Lara sweater; clockwise from there, my feather and fan cowl in silver Artfibers Ming, pinned with a beautiful Perl Grey ringstick from Purlescence; my Dryad Mitts in Squirrel Heather Knit Picks Swish; and a skein of local, millspun alpaca from the farmer’s market–worsted weight, 50g/110 yards.

So the Ming Cowl is done, and I’m suffering from Ming withdrawal. Sigh… look at this stuff.


Apparently, I can make this heap of silvery gorgeousness look like a crumpled heap of grayish fabric when I wear it, but I think it’s beautiful anyway.

Pattern: the Luxe Neck Warmer from Knit 2 Together

Yarn used: Artfibers Ming, Color 08

Needles used: Size 10/6mm Denises

Started: 10/14/07

Finished: 10/25/07

Notes: This is the second time I’ve knit this pattern. It’s a nice pattern, if more decorative than truly warm.

So that’s one thing. Here’s another. The farmer’s market alpaca from the top picture quickly turned into another warm gray winter accessory:

Pattern: Cat Bordhi’s Cashmere Moebius Cowl

Yarn used: Alpaca from the Bloomington Farmer’s Market for the main part of the cowl; my own handspun angora for the edging. The white angora fluff I used (“roving” seems like such a harsh word) was from Breezy Manor, and was the leftovers from the second mini-skein I spun up and Navajo-plied for Last Minute Knitted Gifts angora booties for my friend Jen’s newborn baby.

Needles used: Size 10/6mm 40″ Addi Turbos

Started: 11/5/07

Finished: 11/5/07

Mods: I ran out of alpaca yarn, so I switched to the angora for the edging, made it through only rows 1-3 of the lace edging, then started to run out of angora as well and began to bind off. I ran out of yarn during the bindoff, and had to use the no-yarn crochet hook bindoff for the rest of it. Thankfully, the unusual shape of the cowl means that a tight bindoff will not impede getting the finished object over your head.

Notes: I loved using this alpaca. It felt so fluffy and light while I was using it that I felt like I was knitting with cake frosting, or whipped cream. It’s warm and utterly soft and fluffy around my neck, and the rather hard, overspun, rope-like twist I put into the angora is good for durability, and keeping the angora from shedding and flying away too much. I took pictures with my preferred way of wearing it–tight against my neck with the half-twist overlapping in front like a shawl collar, and the excess fabric folded down to tuck into my coat. I think Cat Bordhi’s version has a smaller circumference, which seems more attractive as an accessory but less warm for the chest. I might try the pattern again, subtracting one pattern repeat.

The pattern uses Cat Bordhi‘s signature Moebius cast-on, basically a clever way of getting your needle through both the top and the bottom loops of a provisional cast-on, with the half-twist that makes the Moebius strip one-sided. The Girl from Auntie has a great series of posts about approaches to knitting Moebius strips, and Thomasina has compiled a big list of links to other Moebius patterns on her geeky knitting page.

“A mathematician confided
That a Möbius band is one-sided,
And you’ll get quite a laugh,
If you cut one in half,
For it stays in one piece when divided”

Have you ever knit a Moebius strip using Cat Bordhi’s method? I definitely recommend it as something to try at least once–it’s fascinating. The cast-on is for the “equator” of the Moebius strip, and the knitting grows up and down from there as you knit in the round. All the lace lines in this pattern slant the same direction as you’re knitting them, but once you’re done, you can see that they are facing you from the right side on one half of the strip, and on the wrong side from the other half, so you have a half stockinette, half reverse stockinette cowl with chevrons of lace radiating out from its equator. You can probably see this best in the top picture I posted.

Pattern: Jess, from My Fashionable Life/Needle and Hook, by Anna Bell/Amelia Raitte

Size: Small (32-34)

Yarn used: 13 skeins of Queensland Collection Uruguay DK, 0.5 skeins of Peru Luxury DK, color 03 Burgundy, both bought for $2.50 a skein from Littleknits. Double-stranded. I knit this jacket earlier this year for my stepmother and used up 11.5 skeins of yarn, so I thought I was being clever by buying 13 skeins this time. I ran out of the 13th skein while finishing the second sleeve cap, and had to use the Peru Luxury DK to finish up–fortunately, the two yarns look exactly the same to me. This yarn, a many-plied merino/alpaca/silk blend, is absolutely dreamy to work with, all bouncy and squishy and shiny and and soft. I highly recommend it. It did bleed a ton when it hit water, and it turned out heavier and drapier than I would have ideally liked, but at $2.50 a skein, I’m not complaining!

Needles used: Size 11 Boye Needlemaster.

Started: 9/26/07

Finished: Let’s call it 10/14/07 (the date I finished seaming and weaving in ends). Still not quite complete because she’s missing two buttons–I bought all 4 they had at Jo-Ann and they’re still not back in stock yet.

Mods: The biggest mod was that I lengthened the sleeves to full length rather than 3/4 length. I used short row shoulder shaping with a three-needle bindoff on the shoulders and still am not convinced of its benefits. Added buttonholes every 14 rows (the pattern doesn’t specify) to end up with 6 buttonholes total. I also corrected the shoulder shaping–it seems to be reversed as written–and the basketweave stitch pattern, as noted in my initial post on this project/wrap-up post on Jess I.

Notes: This is the second time I’ve knit this jacket–I made one for my stepmom this spring, in a sage green color of the same yarn, and liked it so much I decided to make one for myself. The jacket fits really well despite the lack of shaping–I think because it’s pretty form-fitting and the simple knit/purl basketweave stitch stretches to accommodate. The full-length sleeves are kind of bell-shaped because I didn’t make them any narrower around the wrists when I lengthened them, but I think it looks nice enough. It doesn’t look that great unbuttoned, because the fabric is kind of floppy drapey; it’s really cozy and warm, but doesn’t offer much protection against cold wind if you are, say, riding your bike down a hill in November. I might knit with a slightly tighter gauge if I made this again in this yarn. It seems prone to stretching at this gauge; there were unseemly holes around the base of the neck where I picked up the collar, but I think I’ve mostly disguised them. See my other notes from Jess I and the project in progress here.

Verdict: I still love this jacket–what a great little pattern this is. I’m glad I made one for myself. It goes very quickly and makes excellent mindless knitting because of the size 11 needles, the knitting in pieces (each front was only 28 sts!), the lack of shaping, and the easy but interesting basketweave stitch pattern. It has so many pleasing little details–the turned hems, the slipped stitch edging, the buttonholes. You can see the slipped stitch edging, basketweave pattern, and seed stitch collar texture on this close-up.

Look at the cute buttons I found at Jo-Ann: they’re La Mode vintage triple flower buttons, circa 1941, model 1711, $2.99 per two.

Thanks for a great pattern, Anna, and thanks for a great deal on the yarn, Fulay!

It was a beautiful day today! Orange and yellow trees everywhere, and by the time I got up, i.e. around 11:30 AM, it was pretty warm and sunny.

I bought a charming little deer made from a fork at the craft fair today, and managed to pass up lots of horrific scented candles (“Grandpa’s Pipe” smelled like the disinfected bathrooms at retirement homes; “Banana” speaks for itself), embroidered canvas Santa tissue box holders, and a sweatshirt reading “JESUS IS AWESOME” in huge orange letters. As usual, people were selling extremely overpriced jewelry and extremely underpriced knitting. $10 for a normal-sized garter stitch scarf? Even if someone paid you $5 to take the acrylic yarn off their hands, you’d still probably be making less than a dollar an hour. One of the ladies selling beaded bracelets, on the other hand, was charging about $85 per bracelet, and they weren’t fancy and labor-intensive seed beed bracelets, or 24 karat gold strung with fancy South Sea pearls, either.

I got lots of vegetable goodness (shiitake mushrooms, arugula, spaghetti squash), plus some kettle corn, tamales, and locally roasted coffee for immediate consumption, at the farmer’s market. I finally shelled out $8.50 for a skein of local millspun alpaca yarn. It’s a beautiful, delicate gray plied worsted weight, 110 yards/50g, and very, very soft. I might make hand warmers with it, or maybe a mini-scarf, or use it for stripes in a scarf. I’ve been admiring that yarn for more than a year now, so I thought I would just stop waffling and go ahead with it.

I bought three knitting books from Amazon with my credit card rewards gift certificate:
Montse Stanley’s Knitter’s Handbook
Knitting New Scarves
Beautiful Knitting Patterns

The library has the first and last ones, but they seem like good reference volumes to have around. Beautiful Knitting has a lot of brioche and Bavarian twisted-stitch patterns in it, and the patterns are charted, so I thought it would be a nice addition to my collection.

As if all that weren’t enough, I saw a yard sale (in November?) on the way home today and spent some time there. Good stuff! There were more clothes than I’ve ever seen at a yard sale, and lots of name brands in my size, to boot, like Abercrombie and Fitch, Lucky jeans, Old Navy, and American Eagle. I ended up getting a 60s-ish printed dress, a couple of blouses, a few tank tops, a striped long-sleeved t-shirt, a t-shirt with a cheery print on it that reminds me of Katamari Damacy, a Kate Spade-esque purse, a nearly new backpack, a lacy gray zip-up sweater, an IU hoodie, and a humungous cabled white wool sweater to be unraveled, all for the princely sum of $8.

I’m not participating in NaBloPoMo, because I’m going on vacation later this month, but I’m pretending to until then. Sorry if the posts are kind of light on actual content; that’s a nearly inevitable consequence of posting every day.

Back to work… yes, on a Saturday night. I’m moonlighting on a project due the 12th, and I’ll feel much less stressed once it’s out of my hair. Since I basically rode my bike around and bought stuff all day, tonight I’ll have to buckle down and be responsible for a few hours. One consequence of that is that I finished my last mindless knitting project (Forest Rib scarf) and started a new one (a bias-knit garter stitch scarf in Peacock Melange and Natural Brown Misti Alpaca Chunky), so I’m making good progress towards my Christmas knitting and stashbusting at the same time as I finish this assignment, which involves watching a lot of videos.