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.