Monday, November 16, 2009

Blog neglect

The winds of change are upon us. Upon me actually. Hence the blog neglect. Without going into detail, suffice it to say I will be moving into the field of dog training in the upcoming months, and music teaching will become a part time occupation. This seemingly came out of nowhere, yet lots of things precipitated it - the economy and its affects on my school, the changes my school is going through and the fact that I no longer fit in/agree, seriously decreased passion for teaching, discovering that passion resurrected in dog training, and other things.

My last day teaching full time is next Wednesday, after which I will teach here part time, pursue my business in dog training, and do other part time jobs to fill the gaps. Alpacas and fiber arts will still hold an important place in my life, even more so now that I will have more time to be with the animals and to work on my fiber arts.

Meanwhile, here's a pic of our new addition, Simon. Sorry, he's not an alpaca, but he's still cute.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Devi is now a hat.

Well, not really. It's her fiber that is finally in a truly finished state, as fiber is meant to be. I've been on a bit of a head wear knitting kick recently. Unfortunately, since spinning takes of more of the little free time I have than knitting does, it takes me forever to finish a project. I made a tam from my first skein of hand spun alpaca, which I bought from North Star Alpacas Etsy Shop.
The yarn is fairly thick and thin lace weight, even as a two-ply, but the thick and thin spots aren't very visible in the pattern. The tam is a very soft and light enough to wear on a spring or cool summer evening. Very fun to knit.

You may remember the yarn that I spun from Devi's fiber. A worsted weight two-ply spun from hand carded rolags with a woolen draw. I knit that yarn into a heavy winter tam, even though the pattern I chose is called Spring Beret.
Here's the yarn:

Which is now this tam:

I've also been doing a lot of dying, carding and spinning for the shop as well as for myself. (As is evidenced by the epic blog neglect I've had recently.) I decided it was time to make a 3 - ply, and I really want to knit a Quant - an entrelac headband available on Several handspun Quants are featured in the most recent issue of Spin-Off magazine.

So, I measured out 6 ounces or so of Evita's fiber, dyed it in blue, green, purple, and pink, and had some fun blending colors at the drum carder. I blended the blue and green together and spun that as singles on one bobbin with a woolen draw. I divided the purple and pink into one ounce piles. I made a few bats of blended purple and pink, which I spun onto a second bobbin. The remaining purple and pink were carded into layered batts and spun onto a third bobbin. The layers made an interesting marled effect in the singles. Then, I was ready to embark on my first 3-ply attempt. It was quite a battle with my lazy kate, which wanted to jump around, adn the hook that holds the yarns kept coming out. Time for a new one, I suppose. In the end though, I have a wonderful, squooshy, incredibly soft worsted weight 3-ply that I can't wait to knit with. I like make 3-ply yarn a lot, and the resulting yarn is very smooth.

Now I have a new dilemma: What do I spin next? What do I card for the shop? I have so much fiber and I can't decide what to do with it. I know, I know, call the waaahhmbulance. Too much fiber. How horrible indeed. I think I really want to make a pair of glittens in time for winter (knowing me, it will take that long to finish knitting them), and I have plenty of Devi and Evita fiber to blend with some of the Merino wool (for strenght and memory). I also have an ouce of yak fiber that I want to blend with the alpaca. I think it will make a soft tweedy effect. Hmmm....perhaps I just resolved my own dilemma. Now to figure out how many ounces to card. There will be alpaca/merino batts available in my shop when I make my next update, as well as some merino/silk noil art batts.

Happy spinning!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Hand painting fun!

I spent the week hand dying some BFL and Corriedale top from Louet. I used Greener Shades Dyes, which are heavy metal free. They are easy to work with and the results range from muted shades to vibrant colors, depending on the amount of dye used. I've found that a little bit goes quite a long way.

My goals were to create a space dyed effect with each roving, and although the
space dyed effects I ended up with are varied, the colorways are awesome.

The two tops above are each 8 oz. of Blue Face Leicester wool. I dyed the violet-pink and blue-green colorways first. Then I got a little more adventurous with the 4 oz Corriedale tops below.

To dye these tops, I filled my dye pot with hot tap water and added the top, making sure that the water did not completely cover the fiber. Then, I mixed each dye colorway and poured them in one at a time, making sure not to cover the entire top with one color so each individual color would come through in some places and blend in others. Then I gradually raised the heat until steam was rising from the edges of the pot but the water was not yet bubbling. I held the temp there for ten minutes, then added the citric acid and held the temp for another ten minutes. Then I removed the pot from the heat and allowed it to cool while the colors absorbed completely into the fibers. When the dye water was clear, I knew I could drain and hang the top to dry.

I also finished spinning a blend of huacaya fiber (from Devi :D ), suri alpaca fiber, and camel down. I allowed the short fibers of the camel down to create a tweedy effect in the yarn. The suri added some luster, and the huacaya added softness. I ended up with a drapey, tweedy, two-ply fingering weight yarn that yielded about 150 yards. The suri is a cinnamon color that blends very nicely with Devi's fiber, and the camel down is a light brown that adds another dimension to the colors of the blend. It was fun to spin, and the rolags looked beautiful as I carded them with all three fiber types together.

*PSA: All of the yarns and fibers in this post are available for sale in my etsy shop!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Finished. Finally.

Well, technically it's only one ball of yarn out of what has grown into quite a stash of fleece, but I finally finished a 150 yard ball of yarn from Devi's fleece. It's soooo soft, and a gorgeous chocolate brown color. I was aiming for a worsted weight 2 - ply, and was pretty successful, although I ended up with less yardage than I intended. I handed carded all eight ounces and spun two bobbins of singles, which I then plied together. I had a bit left over on one bobbin so I practiced navajo-plying, and am quite surprised at the softness of the three ply. The two ply is awesome, but the three ply is actually absurdly soft. I'm going to knit this ball into a nice spring tam as soon as I finish the one I'm currently working on. (I can't seem to get the bind off they way I want it. It's always too tight or two loose.)

My stash is actually beginning to get out of control. In addition to the rest of Devi's fleece and Evita's fleece, I still have that 2 lbs of Romney, and also the 1 lb of Merino. I was planning on making a Merino - Alpaca blend, but then I began to wonder what the big deal about suri fleece is, so I ordered some. I got two ounces of light fawn and two ounces of a cinnamon brown. I finished washing them today, and dyed the fawn to a rosy shade of pink. Now I've got huacay-suri-merino blends in mind. I even have a bit of camel fiber that came with my wheel, so I'm thinking Devi's fleece will be blended with the camel and the cinnamon suri for a blend of natural browns. Too bad I don't have any llama fiber. I could make a camelid blend yarn! (Hmmm...time for some etsy shopping? I bet someone has some llama for sale.)

And now for your cuteness overload, here's a pic of Captain Rex, the cria that was born to one of the dams that belongs to the farmers I board with. I can't believe how big he is already.
And just because I love them, here are Devi and Evita on a rainy day last weekend. I can't believe how much Devi's fleece is growing already!

Monday, June 8, 2009

I'll be darned. I made a mini Evita

Needle felting. Hmmm....interesting. I decided to give it a shot since I have a few bag of seconds and thirds (fiber from the neck, legs, etc.) and don't really want to pay to have them made into rugs. I thought it would be fun to be able to make little alpacas with felting needles. It was fun, and I think I did ok for my first try with almost no idea what I'm doing. I'm too lazy tonight to b0ther with research so I winged it. I think she kind of looks like Evita.
Of course, the little alpaca looks nothing like the one in the picture, but, like everything else, I'll figure it out eventually.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Up to my elbows in fiber!

Not even just alpaca fiber either! I still have that 2.5 pounds of Romney stored in my den turned fiber storage room, and today some beautiful raw merino wool came in the mail. I bought it from handsandnotions' etsy shop. It's very soft, with nice crimp, luster, and long staple length. (Still not as nice as alpaca, of course!)

I think the merino is going to blend nicely with Evita's fleece, which I am still in the process of washing. I'm going to blend them with hand carders and spin them into possibly a nice sock yarn. I think I'm going to spin some of it undyed and perhaps try dying a batch of the merino. (More on dyes below.) I think the white alpaca will look pretty with the merino in it's natural color.

I recently purchased a starter kid of Greener Shades Dyes and have been dying portions of Evita's fleece (I can't believe how much fleece there is! I'm still washing it!) I like the Greener Shades because the dyes are heavy metal free. The dyes are easy to work with, and produce pretty colors. I've only been using a small bit of the dye powder because I want light, almost pastel colors. It has been easy to achieve the results I want. I'm going to try working with more dye powder for a darker shade with my next batch. I'm thinking maybe a rose color to blend with the amethyst purple below.

Hand carding is a somewhat slow process. I really, really need a drum carder!

I've been so busy with work that I haven't been able to spin much. I really want to spin up more yarn to put up for sale on my etsy shop, but the end of the year craziness at school has made that a bit difficult. So much planning, grading, trips, the concert, deadlines.....I can't wait until June is over so I can spin until my heart's content.

I'm planning to start clicker training with Evita soon. I have to find the right food motivator for her (other than grain). It's tricky because I need to find something she likes, that she won't choke on, and is easy to give to her quickly during the training process. Grain can be messy and inconvenient, and would slow down the training process and possibly cause weight gain. I offered her a little piece of carrot, but she wasn't interested. I'm not sure she knows what it is. I'm going to try putting a little chopped up apple in a handful of grain. I think if I can get her to try it she'll like it, and I can move on to the process of charging the clicker. I'm hoping to mold Evita into an animal that can help some of my students. Kids benefit a lot from working with animals, and I have one or two in mind that could use the experience. It's going to take time to get her ready for that though, and I only visit on weekends which makes it even tougher. Oh well, as we say at my school, patience pays.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Meet the extended family

Now that Devi is settled in and Evita has come to her new home, it's time I introduced their herd buddies. But first, get to know Evita a little better. She is the girl I was supposed to get earlier this month, who ended up having mites. We finally got the all clear to pick her up this past weekend. She's nicely settled in now, and I'm processing her fleece.

Evita and Devi live at Olde Spring Alpacas, the farm where I board my animals. They spend their time with a weanling boy and a yearling girl who belong to Olde Spring Alpacas. Jolli Mon is the boy and Keela is the girl. The pic below is of the Jolli Mon (left), Devi (center) and Keela (right).

Jolli Mon, Keela, Devi and Evita live in one pasture together. The rest of the herd lives in an adjoining pasture. These are the bred females that belong to Olde Spring Alpacas, with one recent birth. The pic below is of a true black girl nick named sixty two. I can't remember her real name, but sixty two was her auction number so that's what everyone calls her. Next to sixty two is Bali and her new cria, Captain Rex.

Here's Captain Rex with Sixty Two, Bali and Summer in the background. Sixty Two and Summer play aunty for Captain Rex. He's a curious little guy, with a handsome face and wonderful cria fleece. I'm excited to watch him grow. He's visibly bigger every time I go to see my two girls.

Meanwhile....back at the apartment.....

I'm processing Evita's fleece and spinning Devi's. All I can say about washing fleeces is: now I understand why they use blue Dawn dish liquid to clean animals that are victims of oil spills. That stuff will remove anything. Evita is white, so forget the cold water wash. I ran the tap until it was hotter than I could stand it, added the Dawn and submerged the fleece. The first batch was washed in garment bags. I'm about to throw that batch out the window. I've had to wash it four or five times now, without the garment bag, and it's still not entirely clean. Lessons learned: No garment bag when soaking a fleece. Use the garment bag if you're spinning out the water in your washer or dryer (no heat in the dryer, spin cylce only in the washer). The garment bag helps maintain lock structure, but the water doesn't penetrate enough to remove all of the dirt. White alpaca fiber tends to have a band of brown/beige dirt that is very stubborn to remove. The dirt band was still there after three washes and rinses in the garment bag. I washed a smaller batch of fleece without a garment bag, in ultra hot water with Dawn. Two washes and two rinses, and I have lovely, fluffly white fleece. Still some vm, but not an inordinate amount. Second lesson learned: Wash small amounts at one time so the water and soap can penetrate. Third lesson learned: You're better off skirting first.

Devi's fiber is spinning up nicely. I took ten ounces and divided it up into equal portions. I'm going to spin worsted weight singles and then 2 ply. I'm spinning semi-long draw, and struggling to spin the singles thick enough for a worsted weight 2 ply. Apparently I can only spin lace weight evenly. I'm carding Devi's fiber into rolags because I don't have combs and I like working with fluffly alpaca rolags, although the cria fiber has a lot of static. It sticks to the cards and me. The singles I've spun so far are very soft and a beautiful chocolate brown. Wish I could spin all the time, but I've only had time for two or three rolags a day. I'm off to pull that stubborn fleece out of the rinse water.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

What's in your van? (aka Best weekend EVER!)

This was the best weekend ever! Saturday night we went to Boston to see one of our favorite bands, The National, perform at the House of Blues. It was an outstanding performance. If you enjoy Indy Rock, or even if you don't and are looking for something new, I highly recommend you purchase their album, The Boxer. The National uses interesting lyrics, unusual combinations of instruments, and unusual textures in their music to create a unique listening experience. They are excellent live performers too.

Sunday we (finally) got our second girl, Evita. That's her riding home in my in-laws' van. She's a sweet girl with nice fiber, which will soon be available as yarn, dyed fiber, and raw fiber on my Etsy shop. She was very good in the van, until we turned on the radio. Oops. She didn't like that so much. She also wasn't a fan of the downpour on the roof of the van. She got up and walked around in circles in the back of the van, which made me a bit nervous, but she settled down again as soon as she figured out that nothing really bad was happening to her. 1st lesson, bring a smaller vehicle. 2nd lesson, no radio.

When we got her to her new home she hopped out of the van like it was no big deal, marched right into her new pasture and made herself at home. As soon as I took the halter off she was chowing down on some hay. The three young ones were checking her out, and she was cool with everything, although she let the young ones know the boundaries with a spit or two.

Driving with an alpaca was surely a unique experience. I wish I had the chance to take a spin through a drive thru window or a toll booth. Maybe next time. I would love to see that reaction.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Holy crap! I sold some hand spun yarn!

I found the hanks of hand spun were beginning to accumulate, so I started an Etsy shop with my (future) farm name. You can see my Etsy mini over on the right. I listed two hanks of yarn and some roving on Tuesday. Today I put listed one more hank for sale, and when I logged on this evening I found it had sold! Honestly, I'm friggin' astonished. I expected I would sell some eventually, but I didn't think it would be so quick. I felt unprepared! The yarn I sold was 100 percent alpaca, from the fiber my mentor farm gave me a while back. You can see the alpaca it came from a few posts down (the one about CT Sheep and Wool). I made a little card with a picture of the alpaca who produced the fiber to go in the box with the yarn. The whole thing was too much fun. It was kind of weird packing up the yarn though, knowing I don't get to see what it will become, but I'm glad someone will get to enjoy it.

This is the yarn that is on it's way to a new home.

I dyed the fiber myself in red, orange and yellow.

Then I blended each color together using hand carders.

I spun it long draw and two-plied, and... voila! My first sale.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The waiting is the hardest part.

I was supposed to pick up my new alpaca on Saturday. I was going to drive the van up to the farm and bring her to her new home. Just me and Evita on the open road, and possibly a trip through a drive-thru for kicks. That's what was supposed to happen until it was discovered that she has mites on her ankles. Mites are microscopic parasites, and she was in full fleece when I went to see her, so I had no idea there was a problem. There was no hair loss or other visible symptoms. The mites were discovered on shearing day (thank goodness we didn't take her before then). The mites need to be eliminated before Evita comes to live with Devi and the other alpacas at the farm where I board, so it will be another two weeks before I can bring her home. Bummer.

The waiting is finally over at Olde Spring Alpacas, where I board my animal. They have a new cria (cria is the term for a baby alpaca), born earlier this week. He's a little white guy with a spot of brown on his side. He has extremely soft, and very curly cria fleece, and he is a very curious and brave little guy. He walked right up to me and my husband and gave us a sniff. You don't really appreciate how little cria are until you see one in person. This little guy is fourteen pounds, and his head comes to just above my knee! I'm sure I'll have pics pretty soon. I'm always taking pictures.

I've been waiting to work with Devi's fleece. I decided to try a cold water wash since I'm paranoid about accidental felting. I was pleased with the way it worked on alpaca fleece. Almost all of the dirt, and quite a bit of the vegetable matter came out in the cold water soak and left the fleece feeling as soft as it was when freshly shorn, and with the lock structure preserved quite a bit. I filled a large sterilite tub with cold water and submerged the fleece - no lingerie bag needed. I covered it and let it sit for 24 hours. I then drained the dirty water, spun the water out of the fleece (in lingerie bags) in my washing machine. While the fiber was drying a bit, I shook out a lot of the vm and did some picking. I refilled the tub with more cold water and resubmerged the fleece for another 12 hour soak. I spun the water out a second time, let the fleece dry, and that was it. Now I can begin carding and spinning it, but I do want to finish with the hand dyed alpaca that is on my wheel right now. I tried the cold water wash on the romney I picked up at the sheep and wool festival as well, but I have mixed feelings about the results. The fleece is a great deal cleaner for sure, but there is still quite a bit of lanolin in it. It also smells a bit. However, I did not let it soak for the entire seven days that is to be allowed for cold washing sheep fleece, but as an apartment dweller, I was concerned about the smell. I think I'm going to go with hot water and blue dawn, give it a vinegar rinse and work with whatever the results are. I really just want it clean enough to store. Right now there's still too much lanolin and I think it would get quite sticky if left in storage for a while.

I didn't have to wait to get the hang of Navajo-plying. I watched this video on youtube, and caught on. I made a couple of practice hanks with some fiber samples I had lying around. Now I feel quite comfortable with it. I think the romney is going to be Navajo-plied. It really is quite simple. Just think finger knitting, but bigger, as you will hear in the video.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

It is called alpacas and school children....isn't it?

I rarely share anything about the school children, mainly because it's been business as usual at school (which is a good thing), but this is one of those times when the special nature of children has to be recognized. I lost my grandmother on Tuesday of this week. She passed away after a long battle with emphysema. She was 87. My grandmother was quite a formidable woman. She kept everyone going (albeit with force) after my mom died. She has been fighting emphysema for over a decade, and it never slowed her down until the last couple of years. Her doctor said she should have been dead years ago. I always knew she wouldn't go until she was good and ready. This week she decided she was ready.

Growing up without my mom, who we lost to cancer when I was three, my grandmother Louise was the only real female figure in my life until I got married and gained a mother-in-law. (My in-laws are very special people. They are the parents I never had.) We have known for a while that the end was near for my grandmother. Still, it's a shock to know that she is really gone and not coming back.

I found out Wednesday morning during my planning period at work. I received a message on my cell phone from my brother Mike. Oddly enough, I was on the phone with my brother Chris' wife when Mike called. I was in a fog for most of the day. I wanted to go be with my family, but there was no way I could leave work, and in the end that was the best thing. The kids didn't know anything was going on, but their special energy and happiness influenced me to live in the moment I was in, which was teaching these children to make music. Yes, my grandmother was gone, but at that moment I was surrounded by the positive energy of our students, and as Cesar Millan says, you should always live in the moment. The moments to grieve would come later. Right now I was doing something important and positive with outstanding young people. Cesar Millan is also correct about the energy of the pack affecting an unbalanced pack member. He always uses his balanced pack of dogs to help rehabilitate dogs who have become unbalanced. At my school, wolves are our mascot, and we always refer to the wolf pack analogy. In this instance, the positive energy of our 'pack' influenced me to come back into balance for a day. It made it much easier to get through Wednesday, and half of Thursday, before the moment came to grieve.

The wake was Thursday night, and the funeral was on Friday. Both were lovely...and sad. After the funeral, I went to visit Devi. Animals are helpful too, in times like this. You have to have control of your emotions when you are around animals. They pick up on everything, and will react to negative energy. If I allowed myself to be negative, the alpacas would have avoided me, but I was able to stay in the moment once again, and Devi showed her usual curiosity about me as did her herd mates. Mother nature leads us toward balance too. Humans need to recognize that more. We are the only species that follows unbalanced leaders.

On the happy side of things, I'm getting another alpaca next Saturday. She's a fiber female/non-breeder that is currently at a farm in Massachusetts. I decided that I want to focus the bulk of my earnings on saving for a property, so I'm going to wait two years until I purchase another breeder. It's difficult to make a profit as a boarder, so I really need my own farm. However, I also don't want to be the only alpaca owner in America that has only one alpaca, and I want to have an animal that is solely my pet. I can get attached to her without having to sell her, and I will have an abundance of lovely white fiber from her. I really wanted a white so I could dye the fiber before I spin in up. I also wanted to find a girl with a nice personality, and it seems with this new girl I have found what I wanted. This way, when I finally get a property and am ready to move my animals, Devi won't have to adjust to a new home and a new herd at the same time. The animals will be able to move together. In fact, I can take the new girl, Evita is her name, to shows with Devi as a companion too. Evita is five years old and already halter trained, so she can help Devi with that too. Evita has been the aunty alpaca for the new cria at her farm, so she can serve in that role too. Devi is only seven months old, after all, and the two alpacas she is with are seven months old and a yearling, so they can benefit from an 'aunty' as well. Actually the yearling girl that belongs to the farm where I board has been missing her mom quite a bit. Maybe Evita will alleviate some of that for her too. Who knows? You can't actually predict how the animals' relationships will turn out, but you can hope for the best.

I'm picking up my new girl next Saturday, and get to drive her home myself this time. This should prove to be a unique experience. I'm looking forward to it. You can expect a post about that experience for sure! I also learned to navajo-ply this week, and will be sharing about that as well.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Surprise shearing

It's been hot around here. Absurdly hot for late April. That's why we agreed to go ahead and shear the alpacas yesterday. Devi and the alpacas that live on the farm where I board her all got sheared yesterday, rather than the scheduled shearing day of May 9th. Devi did very well, aside from refusing to follow on the halter. She had to be carried to the shearing mat, but she didn't scream or spit during shearing. She struggled against the ties a couple of times, but that was it. Maybe she realized how much better she felt once all that hot fiber came off. I got to reap the benefits. I don't know the shearing weight, but her fiber is a lovely bay black with a nice staple length and wonderful fineness. I can't wait to spin it! There is also plenty of seconds and thirds to be sent off and turned into a rug or something. Alpacas look so funny after shearing, like little aliens with skinny little necks. It's very cute. I'm looking forward to watching her fleece grow out again over the next year.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

CT Sheep and Wool Festival

CT Sheep and Wool Festival is an annual event where fiber enthusiasts from throughout our state and the surrounding area come together to sell their products, spin, knit, crochet and do whatever fibery things they love to do. Some vendors even bring animals. There were alpacas, llamas, angora rabbits, and of course, sheep.

I got to watch a sheep shearing (the first I've seen in person), and I must say, I was a bit startled by the process. First of all, it was amazing that the young woman doing the shearing could get a 250 lb sheep on the ground and then sitting up right on it's bottom so she could shear it. There was definitely something mesmerizing about watching the fiber come away from the animal, but I was a bit surprised at how nicked and cut the sheep were afterward. They were shorn almost to the skin, and many had cuts and razor burn afterward. Thank goodness alpaca shearers are much more careful and leave a bit of fiber (I think about 1/4 - 1/2 inch). Alpacas also get tied down during shearing, but these sheep were not tied. They were sat down, and moved this way and that. Some tried to struggle a bit, but gave up. I felt a bit bad for the sheep, but I did take advantage of the shearing by purchasing 2.5 lbs of raw Romney fiber. I have processed raw alpaca, but not sheep fiber, so I decided I would give it a shot.

Romney fiber

I also got to watch the sheep dog trials. I thought it was amazing. The dogs were so intent on their jobs. I'm a firm believer that all dogs need a job, and need to have their energy drained in a positive way, so watching herding dogs being used for what they are bred for was even more awesome for me.

Meanwhile...back at the apartment....
Remember this alpaca? I received her fiber from my mentor farm.

I dyed it and carded the dyed fiber into rolags. Half of that fiber has now become the 250 yards of 2-ply yarn shown below. The other half is in the process of being carded. I dyed it red, orange and yellow, and I'm blending with the hand carders like I did for the yarn below. I'm going to spin this new color blend as worsted weight singles. I dyed all of the fiber using regular food coloring found in the grocery store. I had to blend red and blue to get the purple, but the blue and green are not blended.

Oh, remember when I was wondering about why wool carders aren't the best to use on alpaca fiber? Well, I learned the hard way that cotton carders are the best bet. I found that the alpaca fiber carded on wool carders was breaky and knotted, while the fiber I carded on the proper hand cards (the fiber pictured above) was lovely to spin with. I tried the wool cards on some chocolate brown cria fiber (pictured in a previous post). It still spun up nicely, and is now becoming a lace tam. Moral of the story: Do your research. I got my own set of Strauch cotton hand carders at the festival today. Coincidentally, they are exactly the same as the set lent to me by my mentor farm.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Moving day!

Sunday was the big day, and it went very well. Devi is now living at her new home - an alpaca farm much closer to where I live. She rode in a mini van for about an hour without much fuss, although she had to be lifted into it. She arrived at her new home around noon, and was in with her new herd mates within a few minutes. She hummed a bit when she got out of the van, but settled quickly once the halter was removed. She met a young male alpaca, Jollimon, who is close to her age, and way too excited about having another weanling around. He was following her around and getting a bit too close for Devi's comfort. She let him know the rules with a couple of good kicks (her kicks hurt. Ask me how I know), and a couple of spits too. I've never seen her spit before. Within half an hour she was grazing with her herd mates. Her ears were down occasionally, but when the girls in the adjoining paddock approached the fence she showed interest, greeting them with alert ears and a submissive lift of the tail. It's amazing how adaptable alpacas are. They really are remarkable creatures. I don't think things could have turned out better. Devi is adjusting nicely, and I get to see her much more often. The family who owns the farm are my alpaca angels. Without them I either wouldn't have alpacas or my alpacas would be very far away. Alpaca, singular, I should say. I've decided to get a second animal soon, but it will be a pet quality fiber animal. I'm going to focus large amounts of dollars on saving for land, but I do want a second animal so I can have the fiber, and so both of my animals will be bonded as herd mates already when I finally do get a property (sometime in the next eleventy billion years or so).