Fiber Corner

Daily life of a knitting designer/publisher of handknitting patterns

Sunday, June 11, 2006

New Arrivals

After all the shopping at MS&W, you would think I'd be all set, but parcels have steadily been arriving over the last month.

First off there was some sock yarn. The reddish skein at the top of the photo is some Rosehips Opal. I don't have a sock or mitten model made from Opal, and when I saw this one thought it would work better than one of their self-patterning ones. I'll find out soon. There's also a plain Jane solid cream Opal--just in case I feel the urge to dye. And last but certainly not least, is a luscious skein of Twinkletoes in the Moonbeam colorway from Joslyn's Fiber Farm. This was the yarn used in her sock club last month (my Fanning the Flames sock was the featured pattern) and I was planning to knit up a sample along with the group. Then, the food poisoning hit so that idea went out the window. I did do a gauge swatch and this is a really delightful yarn to knit--60% superwash wool/25% mohair/15% nylon. They're the same percentages as Mountain Colors Bearfoot but the Twinkletoes seems a little bit finer; more the weight of Opal. Maybe it's the same as Schaeffer Anne, I don't have a sample of that to check it out. Anyway, I really like it especially the color; so soft and lovely--definitely one of my favorites. There are alot of hand dyer's out there, but only a few that I love almost every colorway they create. Joslyn is certainly one of them.

And, Lisa is another. I received these dyed fibers from her a couple of weeks ago. From right to left in the photo, Mardi Gras BFL, South Pacific Merino and Jonquil Wensleydale. Unbelievably, I hadn't tried her BFL yet and wanted to experiment with some of the novelty ply's I learned in Patsy Z's class at the Folk School. The Mardi Gras (not nearly as red in person as in the photo) will be fun to play with. The South Pacific Merino is currently being spindled on my new Hatchtown spindle. This is the regular Merino not the superwash (like the Elektra Lite pictured on my Kundert spindle a few weeks ago). and I much prefer it. Comparing the two, the superwash hardly feels like it's even wool. The Jonquil Wensleydale was also intended for experimenting--specifically for spinning boucle yarn. After seeing it, though, I may have to get more--enough for a large project. In my minds eye I keep seeing it spun as a near worsted weight single and knitted with cables.

The last arrival was this gorgeous silk top dyed by Carol Weymar. I've been haunting her site ever since I learned of it last December. Every time I saw a colorway that spoke to me, it would have a big sold sign beneath it. Well, last weekend I lucked out. This is even prettier in person. But, as it's only 2 oz, it left me wondering what I'd be able to make out of it. Unbelievably, lightening struck twice in one week and she had a nearly identical colorway for sale yesterday that I also nabbed. That will make 4 oz and, hopefully, I'll be to get a small shawl out of it. And to top things off, since I'd never spun Tussah silk she included a small sample of undyed top that I could use to get the tension properly set on my wheel, so as not to ruin the dyed top in the process. Nice!

This ought to keep me busy for awhile. At least until Convergence at the end of the month.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

A Day at the Spa

The alpaca spa, that is. Saturday was shearing day at my friend Patty's alpaca farm. Since I've always wanted to see the process, I headed on out there. I also grabbed my camera and snapped some shots to share with you.

Here's a close up of one of my favorite animals. Her name is Brown Sugar and if there were cover girl alpacas, she would be a super model.
Isn't she cute!

I've seen sheep being sheared but have always been a bit curious about the alpaca shearing process since they're much larger animals. I discovered that a shearing table is used. It has a tilting top that moves from vertical to horizontal. The alpaca to be sheared is led to stand next to the table in it's vertical position and with the help of several strong people (some of these animals can weigh a couple hundred lbs), some of them holding the animal in place and the others pulling the table top into a horizontal position and strapping the animals legs down so it can't move. It all happens in an instant.

This photo is of Netta strapped down on the table. She was a little nervous about everything so Patty is stroking her head to keep her calm.

One side of the animal is now available to be sheared and all the fiber is immediately sorted into 1sts, 2nds, 3rds and waste. Then, to shear the other side, the animal is flipped over while on the table--it was amazing to watch!

The shot on the right is of the fiber coming off Brown Sugar. Patty's husband Dick does a masterful job with the shears. Look close and you can see the crimp--yes, Huacaya alpacas do have crimp (at least these very happy critters).

And, at this alpaca spa, they have full service--not only shearing, but a clipper is used to trim the ends off their tail and top knot. Also their weight is recorded, toenails are clipped, they're given their shots, tested to see if they're pregnant and, if they have an overbite, even their teeth are ground.

So, here's the before and after shot of Brown Sugar.

Bet she feels cooler!