Just when I think that I have moved on from getting apoplectic about the many people who are ignorant about the specifics of alpaca fleece & yarn, - and yet - want to expound on this topic anyway, I see something that makes me crazy again and I'm off and ranting. Here I am, spinning alpaca fleece (more on that later) and doing my humble best to educate myself about alpaca yarn and fleeces, when I read another (or two other) nutty proclamation about alpaca.
People, PLEASE do your research!
The first offender is Debbie Macomber, bestselling-author of various romance novels and romance/knitting hybrid novels. Some of my knitting friends like this author, and one of my knitting pals adores Debbie Macomber! She even went so far as to buy me an autographed book by Ms. Macomber. I did not have the heart to tell her that this author is not my favorite. Luckily, my dear friend hates computers and never reads blogs.
Being thusly confused about why Debbie Macomber is a best-selling author, and why so many knitters just love Debbie Macomber, I picked up her autobiographical book, "Knit Together: Discover God's Pattern For Your Life" - about how she became a best-selling author. It turned out to be an unispiring mix of feelgood, never-give-up cheeriness and religion. Despite the title, any mention of knitting was restricted to clunky metaphors such as the following from page 100,
Would that be Huacaya alpaca yarn? Suri alpaca yarn? Peruvian alpaca yarn? Woolen processed alpaca yarn? Worsted processed alpaca yarn? And which wool should we blend it with? Not Lincoln or any other hair breed of sheep right? That wouldn't help.
Here's an idea, if you are a best-selling author and, therefore, super-rich, try buying alpaca yarn from someone who can sell you yarn that won't stretch! You could have the yarn you want, and your readers could have accurate information. Maybe your relationships aren't as frustrating and stretchy as you think. Maybe YOU are the problem.
OK, maybe I should calm down now. If you DO happen to be a big fan of Debbie Macomber, you can go ahead and send me the hate e-mails now, but please use the Subject line, "Alpaca yarn does NOT have to strech" so that I don't leave your e-mails in the spam filter.
Meanwhile, back at Cranky Alpaca Lady central, despite having way too many alpaca and llama-related things in my house, I was inexplicably drawn to a display of llama toys at the import store in Daytona Beach. How cute and fluffy they were! I smiled and felt a warm glow, but then I saw IT! - a small sign with "information" about llamas and alpacas.
crazy sign about llamas with alpaca fleece
If you cannot read the sign above (photo taken with my cellphone) it says,
"Llamas live high in the Andes of Peru and grow thick soft wool called alpaca, as protection against the cold.
The Incas prized llamas as transport, food and clothing, and alpaca is still treasured all over the world for its warmth and softness.
This item is entirely handmade using alpaca wooll (sic) that is gathered from the llamas."
Is "wooll" a euphemism for skin? Because I'm pretty sure that you can't "gather" a pelt from a llama that is living, and those toys are not made from gluing alpaca fur to a cloth body. The fur is attached to skin and the skin is sewn onto a toy llama. My understanding has always been that the alpacas and llamas used for toys are still births, so my issue is not with the idea of animal skin on toys but, rather, the labeling. Why have an informational label on something if you have so little interest in providing accurate information? If you happen to be Bolivian, Chilean or Ecuadoran, you may share my surprise at the fact that only Peru is located in the high Andes and produces alpacas and llamas.
As for the idea that Llamas grow "alpaca" on them - whatever. Maybe we need a romance novel about a great looking, buxom (this is FICTION people!) alpaca breeder who also happens to be a handspinner and keeps a guard llama, a mean horse named, "Sweetie" and a dumb dog named "Blair." Oh and, what the heck, let's make her an expert at knitting the 'Cardigan for Arwen' while we're hallucinating.
Lest you think that I spend all of my time raging about inaccurate alpaca information gentle reader, please know that I recently did a handspinning demo at an event in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. Not the most fibery of destinations but people were really into it. I had a lot of questions including the usual, "Do you teach handspinning?" Maybe I shouldn't have sold off my 5 other spinning wheels before moving south. So, I do make my own, valiant effort to educate the public about fiber and alpaca-ish topics.
kate - handspinning demo alpaca with alpaca fleece
This particular spinning demo was not at an alpaca show, or even a fleece or fiber festival but at a Pagan Pride celebration. If you are thinking Wiccan or devil worship, think more like Earth Day and hippies. The only devil here was the fire ant that viciously bit my foot while I spun. My own presence there was due to an error whereby I thought this event was advertising a handspinning class. When I called for more information, it turned out that the "spinning class" was actually about "Poi Spinning." Until that moment I had always thought Poi was a food staple of the Hawaiian people but, luckily, I was not writing about that topic, so I did not mis-inform thousands of people. But, I digress.
The event producer and I had the predictable conversation, "What kind of spinning were YOU talking about?" Huh? Then two things happened, she asked me to do a handspinning demo at the event, and my daughter, now 17 and dying to go to an actual RAVE party, (forget it kid) begged to be allowed to sign up for the Poi Spinning class. Apparently, the spinning of two, lighted, ball-shaped objects attached to long, thin ropes is an important skill for young persons who attend Raves. Cassandra enjoyed herself spinning the practice poi, two tennis balls attached to plastic twine and I had fun spinning up my alpaca roving and talking about fiber. I, also, gamely tried the poi spinning but immediately whacked myself hard on the nose with one of the tennis balls in front of a large group of onlookers, so I don't plan on moving up to the flaming poi spinning, demonstrated by our instructor any time soon. I may just stick to fleece spinning.
my little girl, happily spinning pretend poi
If any of you were wondering how the Huacaya / Suri mix roving that I bought at the Florida Alpaca Show and mentioned in this post:
POST ABOUT BUYING THE HUACAYA SURI ALPACA FLEECE
turned out, here is the answer: a little hairy but otherwise, perfect. Can't wait to knit with this yarn!
skein handspun alpaca - huacaya / suri blend
More on the process of spinning up the Suri / Huacaya blend roving later but, if you haven't had enough obsessing about spinning for one day, try clicking the link below to see how the pros do it,
SHAWL MADE FROM SPIDER'S SILK!
[ view entry ] ( 1170 views ) | [ 0 trackbacks ] | permalink | ( 3 / 915 )