Big Batty Day


Went to Shoppes at Otter Creek again to use the carding machine.

This time, we only got one batt of chocolate llama done. It takes forever to pick out most of the guard hairs. This fleece is about half processed, maybe 4 skeins spun.

So I switched to the appalousa llama, no guard hair, so it’s a dream to card. The locks are thick and twisted, so I had to open them up with hand cards. Still, we got four batts in just a couple of hours, instead of a couple hours to get one batt.

Last night I bought several colors of firestar to jazz up the llama yarn. The photo is Milk Chocolate Firestar which should look spectacular in the chocolate llama. There is also a navy blue for the black fleece and a Redwood shade for the mohogany fleeces.

Three Batts of Llama

Since we had the machine right there, I carded all my green and brown Jacob into one big, huge batt. It’s a super looking batt, very ocean green, perfect for seashells and beads. I was surprized to find the stuff I thought was a bunch of pale blue rolags was really just junky short cuts. It needs to go into my ‘junk’ bag so I don’t make the mistake of trying to card it again.

I want to add, because I keep forgetting, that I’ve made a modification to my spinning wheel. In order to use the jumbo bobbins to ply, I’ve left the jumbo flyer in place. This means I’m working with the larger orifice and different ratios. I’m now using faster speeds, more twist and need to draft accordingly. So now instead of getting laceweight singles, which I didn’t want, I’m getting a better size yarn! More like what I get in the store, instead of fussing with froghair, I’m getting some really nice wieght and a bit of thick and thin!

I have to draft faster or the single is overtwisted! It keeps me on my toes, not in dreamland.

BTW – I found out that Windows 7 has voice recognition built in. I don’t need to buy Dragon software, I just need to switch to a newer laptop. (Sigh) The things I learn on the interwebz!

On a final note, the alpacas were very easy to catch again tonight. I didn’t get spit on! As a reward, I took off their halters. Hopefully, putting the halters back on won’t be a major production. If I can teach a freaked out horse to put on a halter, I should be able to teach an alpaca.

We’ll see!

Shetland Alpaca Revisited


The beaded Shetland/Alpaca beret

The beaded Shetland/Alpaca beret

The lovely yellow hat found a home with a new friend. However she wants a scarf or a cowl to go with it.

I’ve dyed the fiber and am in the process of spinning the singles. I’ll get to add beads to the clear thread and have a great time watching it become yarn in my hands.

This is a milestone for me, because someone has ordered this yarn. I’m not intending to be a professional spinner, but it’s really cool to have someone want what I make. (Especially since my book sales are languishing.)

The Alpacs Are Here


Digital Camera

Yes, we picked up ‘the boys’ Saber and Tonka yesterday.

It made for a very, very long day. Two women, twin 5-year olds, my old truck and her old horse trailer journeyed to Taylorsville to adopt two alpaca geldings.

As I suspected, my herd of horses lost their minds at the sight and scent of these foreigners on their home turf. We decided to put the alpacas in their stall for the night. The thought was the horses would get used to them overnight.

I got to the barn this morning and NO ONE greeted me. All three horses had their heads in the corner of the stall, butts to me. The old mare was trembling with terror. I felt like a monster, as if I were torturing her. Once we moved the alpacas to the round pen, it took 5 minutes to coax her out of her stall.

The horses went down-wind of the alpacas, where they circled, snorting and blowing. I encouraged them to come closer, which the young mare did. But the old mare hid behind the old black gelding.

This is just day one, so I’m not going to get discouraged. This will take weeks. Eventually, I’ll be able to turn them out together. Just not today.

First Projects


Digital Camera

Of course the first thing is to process the fiber. Washed and dried, it dares me to pick up the cards and get to it.

Today, since it was sunny and warm on the back porch, I carded for awhile. I think it was a couple of hours before I had a basket full of rolags. I weighed the rolags, only to find it was under 2 ounces.

DRAT!

I like to divide the fiber into 1 ounce bags for spinning. The last few skeins have been nearly 100 yards to the ounce. I thought that was pretty good but I wasn’t happy with the ‘fine as froghair’ singles.

Another thing that’s been bugging me is the sheer scale of this project.

Yesterday, as I scrolled through the blogs, I discovered a post that mentioned production spinning. I’m so sorry I didn’t get the name of the blog, or I’d plug it. The writer mentioned that production spinning was very fast. A spinner couldn’t get caught up in perfecting every inch, she has to let it all fly.

I mulled over that all day. It really struck a cord with me. I DO check each inch – which is why my yarn is so fine.

So I asked myself – what if I went faster? I’d have to tinker with the wheel settings, but that’s what they are for, after all. It might just put more twist in the fiber, and I might get something a bit thicker. Tonight when I sat down at the wheel, I set everything a little faster.

BINGO!

I got more twist in the single, and it was consistantly thicker! Not only that, but I spun the whole ounce in a couple of hours with only a short break.

The difference in the two singles really showed up when I plied them. The second single was conciderably shorter and thicker, exactly what I’d hoped. Also the yarn had a really nice drape to it. It felt very balanced, not over twisted or under twisted. I got 90 yards by plying the end of the first skein with the end of the second.

I didn’t take a picture. I washed that skein right away.

Also I wanted to note that llama dries very quickly. A good breeze will dry out a skein in a couple of hours.

That mountain of fiber is starting to look more managable. LOL Looks like there are a dozen infinity scarves in my future.

Ho Ho Ho – Merry Christmas!

What to Do?


Yes, the crate is full to the brim. (Eek!)

Yes, the crate is full to the brim. (Eek!)

Isn’t it lovely?

An entire crate of llama fiber, washed and waiting to be carded, then spun. The color didn’t come out in the original photo so I goosed the color saturation a bit.

I’ve got to pick out the guard hairs as I card it, otherwise it is pure fluff. This is just one of the bags given to me.

I’ve already spun 5 ounces. It hardly made a dent in the crate. Maybe hubby and I will need to go back to Shoppes to run this fiber through the picker and the carding machine.

I’ve already got half an infinity scarf – I’m wondering what else I should make with it.

And I wonder how much I can get done by Christmas?

Llama Fiber Mega Stash


Digital Camera

As you can see, I’ve been busy processing the llama fiber I was given. The large brown crate on the floor is full to the brim with washed fiber that needs picked and carded. The white bags are full of unwashed fiber. The tilted crate is half full of Appalousa llama fiber, which appears to be free of guard hair. It’s all pure fluff. There are still two bags of fiber in the car. (gulp)

You can see I’ve got a huge task ahead of me. If I wasn’t itching for something to do, I’d be freaking out. It’s fairly easy to wash the fiber, though it’s full of dirt and bits of vegetation. Once it’s washed and rinsed, it dries into mats. I use conditioner to make it easier to pick, otherwise it developes a wicked case of static cling.

The mats can be broken up by hand, or with a picking machine. A picking machine is an ugly bed of nails that rips the fiber mats open. It will also give an unwary woman a masectomy, so it has to be used with caution. Once the mats are turned into fluff, the fiber can be carded either by hand or with a machine.

This week, I have washed one bag of fiber, the chestnut. The crate contains the bulk of it. I have carded 4 oz. I’ve spun all 4 ounces into 2 skeins. One skein is already half of an infinity scarf. The other skein is drying on the rack. Once it is dry, I’ll crochet the rest of the scarf.

Thus far, the appalousa llama is the most intreging fiber. It’s also very dirty. I thought one wash and rinse was enough, but I was wrong. This guy liked to wallow in clay dust. (shrug) No big deal, really.

I’m toying with the idea of dying some of the white. (BTW – appalousa is white with tan spots.) I’ve got lavender and turquois dyes that should really look good with the mottled fiber. Not sure about that yet, it might be entirely too time consuming for Christmas presents.

I’m also looking into Dragon speach to text software. I suspect I won’t have my hands free until summer. LOL