Sunday, December 19, 2010

Warping is Heck

Okay, okay. So I cheated. I tied on to the last warp and pulled the warp through the beater and the heddles. But I still managed to break TWO warps during the process (and then I had to hunt down the broken warps and string them through. Sheesh!)

I did manage to warp enough for both a scarf and the material to make some mittens. The mittens are a custom order but the scarf will go to hubby as a Christmas present. Don't you LOVE the mad rush to finish up Christmas projects?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

This Will (Probably) Never Happen Again!

I've been working on a custom order I received (to be given as a Christmas gift by the customer) for three skeins of hand-spun yarn. The fun thing is that the customer has given me complete latitude in choosing colors and yarn weight. The only stipulation for the order has been that the yarn include alpaca fleece. Now this is the kind of customer I like! But that's not the thing that will probably never happen again.

Here are the three skeins I've done to complete this order:

The bright blue is a light fingering weight yarn that is a mixture of 50% white suri alpaca, 30% blue merino, and 20% silk. Heaven to spin! The alpaca fleece came from Sakura, a gorgeous dam who has consistently produced ~4 pounds of blanket fleece at an average of 21 microns. The dark brown yarn is a sport weight and a mixture of 50% brown huycaya alpaca, 30% yellow merino, and 20% silk. The alpaca fleece came from Victoria with a micron count ~45. The lighter brown skein has one ply that is 70% brown/pink/white merino and 30% silk and a second ply that is 100% white suri alpaca. The alpaca fleece for this skein came from Valentina, another dam whose micron count averages ~20.

Now when I spin I'm not very good about planning ahead to have one ply come out about the same length as the other ply. Even if I weigh the roving before I start to spin and make sure that I have the same amount for each ply, I always come out with lots more of one ply than the other. For example, when I spun the two plies for the bright blue yarn, this is how much of one ply I had left over when I ran out of the other ply:

The same was true for the dark brown skein.

But THIS is how much I had left over of the merino/silk blend when I ran out of the alpaca for the lighter brown skein! 44 inches!

This will probably never happen again!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Have You Ever Wondered . . .

what happens to a cinnamon roll when you vacuum pack it?

Hubby has a new toy. A vacuum packer.

It's been useful in putting up our yearly supply of green chile, putting up some left-over spaghetti sauce made with tomatoes from the garden, etc.

Yesterday hubby expressed a yearning for cinnamon rolls.

"I'll make us some for breakfast tomorrow," I said.

And so I did. Or rather I let the bread machine mix up the dough and then did the finishing touches (rolled out the dough, put butter, cinnamon, and sugar in the center, rolled the dough up and cut it into pieces, let the pieces rise, and then baked the rolls).

They were beautiful when they came out of the oven last night . . .

All they needed was some frosting and nuts. Yum!

But the plan was to have them for breakfast this morning. So I was packing them up into a container to put in the refridgerator.

"Should we vacuum pack them?" hubby asked.

"Um, I think vacuum packing would pretty much flatten the cinnamon rolls," I said.

He was looking at the vacuum packer longingly. I could tell he REALLY wanted to try it out. "Okay, we can try one," I said.

The word "pancake" comes to mind.

So now you know. Don't try this trick at home, kids.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The 25 Year Quilt

I have been working on a candlewicking quilt for 25 years (not continuously). I now have terrific motivation for finishing the quilt because my nephew has gotten married and I think it would be the perfect wedding present for him and his new bride.

I started it when I was living in Knoxville, TN, working for Martin Marietta Energy Systems, and also working on my advanced degree at University of Tennessee. It was my sanity project. There is nothing quite so zen (and mindless) as making french knot after french knot and sometimes you just need that. This quilt (in all its pieces) has followed me across the country and I've finally, FINALLY, finished all the candlewicking required so that the pieces are ready for assembly.

There are 18 stenciled squares and 17 unstenciled squares for a total of 35 squares.

The stenciled squares have 4 small hearts (one in each corner) with 34 french knots each (total of 136 knots/square).

Additionally, there are 8 stenciled flowers on each stenciled square with 50 french knots each (total of 400 knots/square). There are also 8 leaf bundles on each stenciled square with 50 french knots each (total of 400 knots/square).

One large heart in the center of the stenciled squares has 43 french knots/square.

So for each stenciled square there is a total of 136 + 400 + 400 + 43 = 979 french knots. For 18 stenciled squares that's 17622 french knots.

The unstenciled squares have the same features: 4 small hearts in the corners (34 french knots each for total of 136 knots/square), 8 flowers (but with 55 french knots per flower - 440 knots/square), 8 leaf bundles (40 french knots/leaf bundle - 320 knots/square), and one large heart in the center (64 french knots/square). For each unstenciled square there is a total of 136 + 440 + 320 + 64 = 960 french knots. For 17 unstenciled squares that's 16320 french knots.

For the entire quilt I have made 17622 + 16320 = 33942 french knots.

No wonder it's taken 25 years!!!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Chili Roasting

One of the things I love best about fall is roasting and putting up green chili for the winter. This weekend we bought a bushel of Socorro green chili, had it roasted, peeled it, and packaged it up for the freezer. Ah, the smell! It's so yummy. Here's some of the pods that are ready for peeling:

Here's some of the roasted pods next to the peeled pods. We peel, split, and rinse the majority of the pods for use on sandwiches and in omelettes. A few of these get "sampled" as the peeling process continues (well, you've got to keep your strength up!).

But some of the pods stay intact for use as rellenos. Here's a roasted pod before it is peeled and the peeled pod (ready to be a relleno)! Yum! Ready to be stuffed with cheese, breaded, and fried. Breakfast of Champions!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Sakura's Fleece

This is Sakura.

I've been working for the past month on skirting and cleaning a couple of her fleeces.

So I've gotten about 2 lbs of the fleece skirted, washed, and dried. This weekend I finally got around to carding 1/2 lb of it with 1/2 lb of Paradise Fibers Sky merino/silk.



I've gotten 1 oz spun up so far . . .

Do I really have to go to work tomorow???? :(

Sunday, August 15, 2010

It's a SEKRET!

Hello there. Long time, no post. Well, I'm here today to share a SEKRET! It's my hubby's birthday soon and I've made him an Aloha shirt out of material with sea turtles on it! I'm so excited for him to see it but he's just going to have to wait until his birthday. But YOU can see it now! Here's a view of the front:

The back view is shown here:

And here's a close up of the turtles:

He's got a whale Aloha shirt and now he'll have a sea turtle Aloha shirt. What's next? Maybe a shark Aloha shirt . . . .

Sunday, June 6, 2010

An Experiment with Color

So I'm waiting on some micron counts for the fleeces that I've got from the shearing this year and I decided to do a little experimenting while I'm waiting. I carded up 4 ozs of naturally dark brown alpaca

with an equal amount of 70% merino/30% silk dyed mostly yellow with bits of red and blue

Here's the alpaca going in to the carder (electric carders - you gotta love 'em!)

followed by the merino/silk. I ran each batt through three times to get a good mix of the alpaca/merino/silk.

Of course, the cat helped through the entire process . . . .

I ended up with eight 1-oz batts. I'm shooting for two 4-oz 2-ply skeins. When I first pulled them out of the carder I was a little under-whelmed.

But this is how it's spinning up and I'm absolutely loving it!

NEXT: The journey from alpaca to yarn!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Llama Pajamas

Here's a poem I love by Mary Ann Hoberman from her book "The Llama Who Had No Pajama - 100 Favorite Poems"

The llama who had no pajama
Was troubled and terribly sad
When it became known that he had outgrown
Every pair of pajamas he had;
And he tearfully said to his mama
In a voice that was deep with despair:
O llamaly mama
I need a pajama
Or what in the world will I wear?
Or what in the world,
In the wumberly world,
In the wumberly world will I wear?

The llama who had no pajama
Looked up at the evening sky.
It will soon, he said, be time for bed
And all will be sleeping but I.
And all will be sleeping but I, but I,
And all will be sleeping but I.
For how can a llama go bare to bed,
The little pajamaless llama said,
When the rest of the world,
Of the wumberly world,
Are all wearing pretty pajamas?

The poor little llama's sad mama
Got out her needle and thread.
I'll try to enlarge your pajama,
The llama's sad mama said.
And she stitched and she sewed those pajamas
Till she ran out of plum-colored thread.
But they still were too small for the llama.
O what will we do? Mama said.

For you must have a pair of pajamas
As you cannot go naked to bed;
But where in the world,
In the wumberly world,
Will we find you a pair of pajamas?

They looked in each nook and each cranny;
They looked on each hillock and mound;
But though they saw bathrobes and bonnets,
Pajamas were not to be found.
The clock struck a quarter to seven.
The llama lay down on the ground.
I know I won't sleep, he sniffed sadly,
And his nose made a staying-up sound.

But he did sleep. He dozed off at seven.
And he slept for the rest of the night;
And when he woke up in the morning
To his mama he said with delight:
What a wonderful sleep I've been sleeping all night!
My head feels so clear and my eyes feel so bright.
When we looked for pajamas, how foolish we were.
Why, I sleep so much better in nothing but fur!
It fits me so nicely; it's light as the air;
It's the practical thing for a llama to wear.
And since goats don't wear coats
And doves don't wear gloves
And cocks don't wear socks
And bats don't wear hats,
Well, why in the world,
In the wumberly world,
Should llamas be wearing pajamas?

Encantadas Jack in his pajamas.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


Well the shearing for this year was last weekend and EVERYTHING went very smoothly. 23 alpacas got sheared. Jared Livingston did the shearing this year and he did a GREAT job! Here's a picture of some of the girls the day before the shearing.

Here's Shabazz right before he got sheared. Doug is bringing him into the shearing area.

Doug and Jared are laying Shabazz down to get him into the restraints so Jared can shear him.

Jared works on Shabazz's legs while Tim holds Shabazz's head.

I got to bag up all the fleece as Jared was shearing.

Jared works on Teebo's blanket.

Teebo got a "mohawk."

Doug is releasing the block and tackle so Teebo can get up and go roll in the dirt in the field after his first shearing experience.

Now the alpacas can start growing more fleece for next year's shearing!

Check out our website.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Featured Alpaca of the Week: Emily

Sweet Emily is a very shy alpaca. She doesn't like to eat pellets from your hand and she's not very sociable. But she is a GREAT mom. She had her first cria in October (Encantadas Jack) and she took to mothering right away. And her fleece is exquisite. Last shearing it measured in at 18 microns (that's Royal Baby) and that was her second shearing. She is a little smaller than Valentina and Sakura. Here's a picture of Emily when she was about a week old:

And here she is right before shearing last year:

We shear this weekend! Look for pictures of the shearing next week!

Check out our website.

Friday, April 30, 2010

I Love Crias

Crias are so great. I just love to watch crias as they discover alpaca life. They usually run everywhere; they are so excited to discover what's up with the world. We had three crias this past Fall and they are such good buddies. They love hanging out together and comparing notes about their moms, the other alpacas, and just life in general.

This is a picture of Emily when she was about a week old. She and another cria are soaking in some sun.

Emily is the cria on the left.

Our three crias that were born in September/October are shown below sharing some dinner conversation. Nox is on the left, Dulcinea in the middle, and Jack on the right.

Below is a picture of Wailea on the day she was born. It was a little cool that evening so we quick put a cria coat on her right after this picture was taken.

Shabazz is shown in the picture above with his mom, Sakura, on the day he was born. Mom's just making sure everything's going okay.

Check out our website.