So Soft – Just Don’t Pet Him!


Grumpy closer

 

Look at that face! Isn’t he the cutest darn thing?

He hates being petted, which is just TOO bad because he’s SO SOFT! Last winter I’d corner him in the stall and pet his neck and he’d scream “Ewwww!” and stamp his little bitty feet. I’d laugh at him. “Too bad, Grumpy. Get over it! You’re just SO soft!”

I’ve spent most of the afternoon on the back porch, playing with Grumpy’s fleece. I’ve picked it. Carded it. Spun it and plied it.

It’s just so soft!

I don’t know what I’m going to make with it. It’s very fine and a soft creamy white.

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Look, you can just grab a handful and spin it just as fine as froghair, with a drop spindle. My wheel makes it into yarn so fast, the stuff just flies onto the bobbins. The yarn I plied an hour ago needs to be measured and weighed so I know about where I’m at with it.

I’ve discovered how to wash it – just soak it in water for a week. Change the water every day. Use soap and hot water the first day, leave it in the sun the rest of the week. This is a very slow process, but the fleece is just as soft and clean as it can be…after a week. If I go any faster, I get FELT. You can’t agitate this stuff. Even spinning it in the washer felts it.

Now the sad part is that Grumpy appears to have the coarsest hair of the three alpacas. But his is the longest, and the cleanest. I bag it up an ounce per bag – soak it and forget it.

I’ve got more fleece from Atlanta, but I haven’t tried to wash it up yet. I’ve washed one ounce of black llama and an ounce of mouse-colored llama.

Last weekend we went to Wampum Stompup farm. I saw the most beatiful alpacas. Fawns, red-browns and blacks that had some really dreamy looking fleece. There was one red-brown that I’d really like to buy. If he were fixed, which he isn’t.

She breeds her males. I just want geldings. No females, no babies – though her babies are adorable. They are just so hard to keep up. She’s got to deworm hers every 10 days because of some weird worm that comes from the deer.

I deworm mine twice a year. The chickens have developed a taste for Alpaca Poop that defies logic. They like it more than they like horse manure.

Well, the tractor repairman is here, gotta go!

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Had to make the picture bigger so you can get the full squee from that cute little face.

Grumpy’s Fleece II


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This matted mess is what I started with. Very discouraging to have the fleece turn into these nast matts. However, all is not lost.

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This is a fleece picking machine. A small one that is very powerful. See those razor sharp nails? They pick apart the fleece. What you get is in the next photo.

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Soft and fluffy again. The fleece just needs carded and spun. Or dyed, carded and spun.

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Pictures are worth a thousand words, right? In this case the word is “HOT” a thousand times. LOL

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Even the flowers are wilted in the heat, drip irrigation can’t keep up with the heat. Might have to turn it to the highest setting.

Grumpy’s Fleece


Shearing photos

So I made the skirting table out of bird netting and PVC pipe. It’s a nice, large surface, and half the fleece fit on it. I shook a lot of dirt out of the fleece before I washed a small part of it.

Three changes of water with soap, two rinses and a stint in the spin cycle later. Well, it was okay, fairly clean, and of course, matted.

I ran it through the picker and got a soft cloud of lovely fluff. I carded some of it.

Tomorrow I start spinning this fluff into yarn.

There will be pictures, I promise.

Got Fleece? Oh Yes!


Shearing photos

Half of Grumpy’s fleece.

The deed is done for the year. I have 4 bags of fleece, my back is completely trashed, but I couldn’t be happier with the yield.

I was really worried about Grumpy. I knew the weather was going to get hot and I knew he was carrying 3 inches of fleece all over his body. I also knew he wasn’t going to go down quietly. Poor little guy had been handled very little until he came here. So he’s little more than a wild animal.

The photo above is half of Grumpy’s fleece.

I had to make up a skirting table in a hurry. I had originally thought to use something else, something removable, but it was too much work. This way we used plastic pipe and bird netting I already had. It’s worked perfectly, so far. The fleece is a bit damp, so it’s going to sit outside for the night. By afternoon it should be ready to re-bag or wash.

Likely I’ll wash a big batch of it. I’ve got a serious itch to get my hands on this stuff. I want to dye it in deep moody blues and mix in lots of pretty sparkle. I’m thinking sweater, or large shawl.

 

Shearing Time

A lock of hair, staple length appears to be at least 3 inches. Yowza!

I don’t know micron counts. But I know soft – this is really soft. Filthy dusty, but really soft. I left it outside to air, and the gentle breeze and a bit of shaking has taken the second cuts and a bunch of dust out.

After I dye half of it in blues, I’ll dye a bunch of greens, mix the green with some chestnut for a woodsy color of yarn. Then, I don’t know. Maybe card up a bunch to spin…into art yarn?

I’ve seen Sheri’s photos of her goats, so I’m leaning towards getting some mohair locks. I think alpaca and mohair is going to make a crazy soft yarn. Something a knitter would flip over.

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PigPen and Grumpy

 

The guys aren’t happy. There’s been a lot of fighting, with PigPen instigating it. That dark patch on Grumpy is a long scratch with a nasty looking bruise under it.

 

More Spun Fun


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This is a photo of the lovely wool I’ve been working on for a couple months.

It’s a three ply yarn. There’s a Charcoal gray, an Antique Red, a Silver and a Dusty Rose. For some reason it reminds me of Good and Plenty candy.

It was not easy to 3-ply, for some reason it kept getting tangled in my fingers. There must have been too much twist. It washed out just fine. Lovely stuff, though.

It’s funny. Once I spin a yarn, I have nothing to say about it. My mind is blank, except for the knowledge that’s it’s done and I really enjoyed spinning it.

 

Textiles – An Epiphany


Hand Spun Yarn

I’ve been spinning over a year now.

Today I needed a leader for the bobbins I purchased at the Woolery this week, I used a bit of cotton that was sitting on the table. That cotton was spun by a friend of mine on Thursday. Instant leader, on the plying bobbin. As I wrestled with a 3-ply yarn in red and gray – I realized, once again, just how old this art form really is.

We are surrounded by textiles. Rugs, curtains, upolstery, the clothes we wear, sheets, towels and pillow cases, socks(!) everything is made from textiles. Yet, not even 100 years ago, most of these textiles were made by hand.

Can you imagine how fast these textiles would vanish if the textile industry shut down tomorrow? Today’s fabrics are really flimsy, they don’t last long at all. The simplest things are completely out of our grasp. Very few people know how to sew, knit or crochet, let alone spin or weave. I might have enough clothing to last me a couple of years…until I look at socks.

Everybody knows how uncomfortable is it to wear shoes without socks.

I’ve never worn a pair of knitted socks. I’ve seen sock yarn, needles to make socks and pictures of socks. But I’m completely unable to make a sock without help.

If the Zombie Apocalypse hit tomorrow – how much would a pair of hand knitted socks be worth?

The New Guys – Photos


Tribute and Armand

I’ve been busy, and haven’t posted pictures of the new Alpacas.

As you can see, they were sheared in late summer or fall. There’s not so much fleece on them. There are a lot of burrs, too. As usual, they aren’t the kind of guys to stand still to be groomed.

But I WILL work on that. I prefer my ‘llamas’ as well mannered as my horses. This is going to take a LOT of treats.

Also, I’ve got to get them off the expensive Senior Feed that goes to the old horses.

Got to cut corners where I can.

Spinning By Candlelight?


I can't believe it's really mine.

I can’t believe it’s really mine.

A really bad storm blew through last night, around 10 pm the lights went out.

I wandered through the house, pulling out a few candles and two oil lamps. I can light up the house with seven candles. I was bored enough to try spinning in by candle light. It worked out okay, though I quit after a few minutes. The alpaca I’m spinning is too pretty to play around with.

Today hubby and I carded the black llama fiber I need to finish up the last of my Christmas projects. We put quite a bit of blue firestar in it. Both a navy blue and a bright blue. There’s a really nice sparkle to it now.

Hubby also called his son to let him know his present will be late. I finished carding the chocolate llama fiber for the new hat last night. But it’s still gonna take me a couple of days to get around to it.

Merry Christmas, Bright Yule, Happy Holidays and so forth from all of us at Jordan’s Croft.

Otter Bee – Crafters’ Get Together


Three of us met for Otter Bee at Shoppes at Otter Creek yesterday.

I got to see my very first battery operated sewing machine in action. It was so tiny and so cute, but it really worked!

And a spinning buddy brought her tiny spinning wheel in. It was also tiny and cute! A direct drive wheel that she used to spin up some really lovely alpaca roving in soft golds and greens.

I took my beloved Kromski and spun up nearly all of my ‘Forest Sky’ alpaca roving. Unfortunately, the 4 oz roving had sat long enough that I couldn’t long-draw it. So I’m still working on it.

We also talked about my problem with staple length – the appalousa llama fleece was cut with less than a 2 inch staple length. I got some fake casmere to blend with it, and some Shetland roving to dye a dark blue and mix with the black llama. The black llama is even softer than the white, and the staple length is even shorter. But it’s so soft and fine that I’m determined to spin every bit of it.

No new photos today. I didn’t take any.

On the downside, I ‘lost’ a finished project for my step-son. I crocheted him a llama hat in chocolate and appalousa that was just dreamy soft and warm. But somehow, it grew legs and vanished from my house. I’ve looked everywhere!

The young man shaves his head, and lives in Upstate New York, where the winters are savagely cold. I’m afraid that I can’t make him a new hat before the holiday.

Got the Photos


Th

These are a couple of skeins I spun last week. I think I did three the week before to get the infinity scarf done for the Llama Rescue people.

I had an ounce of appalousa llama carded by hand. I spun that up, it’s the little hank only 30 yards. I’m waiting for my order of firestar to come in before I spin any more appalousa. Those three fluffy batts are calling my name! But adding just a touch of sparkle will make them beyond fablous!

Un-Swirly Hats

These are the hats I made with the ‘Swirly Hat’ pattern. As you can see, the swirls didn’t happen. However I LOVE the look of these hats! I put a little bit of decoration on them with a band and two buttons. Just charming!

I’ll take another look at the photos to see if there are any more pictures I can post.

‘Tis the Season!