MY NEW ALPACA BLOGGER SITE
Yes, the time has come for me to move my alpaca blog to a newer, more full-featured blogging program. If you want to come along for the ride, I will be at:
MY NEW ALPACA BLOGGER SITE
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The movies are full of stories of female bonding over things like a pair of jeans ("Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants"), a group of Southern Belles living in a small town ("Ya Ya Sisterhood", "Steel Magnolias") and plucky girls who step in and do the jobs of men whist the men are away at war ("Swing Shift", "A League of Their Own"), but the sisters of the craft are strangely invisible to the average Hollywood scriptwriter. Why?
There is no sisterhood that reaches across economic, regional and age barriers like the sisterhood of the craft. And, I don't mean witchcraft; although it is also fine, for those who want to channel their inner witches, to go ahead and turn judgemental, puritan males into frogs and lizards and such. After all, Halloween is just around the corner.
One of MY yarn sisters, Jody, is a snowbird who lives part of the year in Canada and part of the year here in Florida. I think you can guess which parts are spent where. So, we, her Floridia yarnies, are her MAIN yarn sisters (I believe), but she does have others amongst the Canucks and Caribou.
Jody knew that I could not travel to the Toronto Yarn Crawl that she hosted at her place a couple of weeks ago, but some of our other yarn sisters did. I was bitter and jealous but, did they forget me? No. While they drank heavily and yarn shopped more heavily, they still made sure that one of them came back to Florida with a skein of -drum roll please.-
Tanis Fiber Arts, hand dyed 80 percent Merino, 20 percent nylon, Canadian, fingering-weight yarn for me!
That's sisterhood folks. A sister will bring you yarn that you absolutely don't need, but are dying to have anyway, just because you happened to mention it in an online post. Thanks Jody and Bonnie.
Ode to the Sisterhood:
We care about each others cables. We pet each others cashmere. When stitches are dropped, we're there with the crochet hook for one another. Yea, though we walk through the valley of the shadow of shrinkage, our sisters are there for us, pointing out that we should wait a week or two before divorcing our husband because he put a hand knit, 100 percent wool garment in the hot cycle.
close up of T-shirt logo from above
So I will have to spin the story myself: Brilliant, funny, creative women meet on any given day, all over the world, to practice their craft together. They help each other decipher life's patterns. They admire each others work. They cherish the old ways, the hand work that has been passed on for thousands of years from woman to woman. They love their art (because craft IS art) and often, they love each other. We are the fates, the goddesses and, sometimes, the weird sisters, but sisters nonetheless. I am thankful for each one of you.
Link to the Goddess Shawl Pattern on "The AntiCraft".
And, while I'm feeling a little witchy, My latest favorite alpaca -related messages. Try to guess which one I answered personally.
questions on alpaca breeding and profit
1. Alpaca fleece market value — where can I find a timely read out on the value (per pound) of fleece?
a. is it .8 per pound?
b. is it 2.00 per oz?
c. is the price per oz or lb. based on the many factors of the fleece, i.e., crimp, density, etc.?
2. I can visualise (sic) alpaca breeding much like am-way - pay up front (big money) then hope to sell your product...
a. the price of a bred female alpaca is based on the quality of offspring she produces - and the quality of the fleece - and then what? I don't see a reliable market for the fleece and therefore I don't see a reliable market for my alpaca investment.
also - the value of geldings is the fleece only apparently .... to eat one would be like cooking and eating E. T!
3. So when its time to shear my alpacas, am I going to have trouble selling it?
years ago I raised sheep - the market for fleece was never what it should be, but at lease (sic) there was someone in town who would shear them, place the wool in a large bag, write you a check and send the wool bag to the closest market for a small fee .....
4. I am retired, and not enjoying it - so I want to raise alpacas or sheep - cows and horses are not (old man) friendly.
I am not exactly sure how I found your site--through a series of clicks starting on the Localharvest.org site which took me to an alpaca farm in Tavares, which then got me curious as to how Alpaca fiber actually gets spun into yarn.
Not to bore you any further, but I am a homeschooling mom of two, with a newly discovered passion for handmade. I am learning to sew and crochet at the same time and will get to knitting soon I am sure.
My question (finally) is do you still teach handspinning? Or do you offer a dvd on how to handspin? I live in Oakland FL just west of Orlando, and though I havent done a search for handspinning "lessons", I figured you would be a great person to ask first.
I am trying to organize a visit to the Tavares Alpaca farm for my children so that they can actually meet alpacas up close. Part of my mission as a homeschooling parent is to help my children connect with their environment and see how things are created naturally and organically. It is challenging in a time of videogames and internet as we are all grateful for these advances, too!!
Anyway, thanks for your time and I look forward to your response :).
Comment from my blog:
On Thursday, September 9, 2010, 02:42 PM, Lex Lang wrote:
Hi, I was just surfing for of all things charms alpaca shaped charms and saw your site, I am looking for a place that I can ask questions I am not an owner but rather SIL to an owner and breeder, I have many questions and am too imtimidated to ask them of my in laws. I am totally completely in love with this incredible creatures, I knit and do many other crafts.
Would love to find a place to get information on raising baby alpacas, They are blessed to have 4 on the farm right now
and I thought I was in love before they were born, some one is laughing big time at me. I want to learn, but am not getting alot of encouragement, mostly don't want to do something wrong to put the animals in danger or at risk.
Hope you can help me out
Thank you in advance
If you guessed that I answered both messages 2 and 3, but 3 had a FAKE e-mail address, you're right! As for message number 1, a.k.a. "I can't even be bothered to GREET YOU before I list the questions I expect you to answer", I did not answer him personally, but if I had, it would sound like this:
I am sorry you are an old man but I don't see why you need to have alpacas, sheep, horses OR cows if you don't love them. If you are bored, take up golf! I'm tired of interacting with people who do not spin, knit or weave, do not love animals, and yet think they should be able to make a living selling the animals and fleeces that they have little or no interest in.
I, too, am old-ish and I have had to have a very painful shot in the bottom of my foot because my sister's evil horse, Beau, leaned on me when I was cleaning his hooves. So, do I just let his hooves get thrushy and sore? No, I do not. I wear ugly Croc shoes, roll frozen fruit juice cans under my foot and take my cortisone shot like a big girl. Heck, I even let the horses graze on my own front lawn because their pasture is too dry.
Sure, people think I'm weird but, this isn't a halfhearted, late-life career change, this is my fate.
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Cher 1 hour old
Cher as an adult
How do you even thank someone for doing something so incredible for you? You can't really. Roseann is a genius at knitting and spinning and I am just lucky enough to have her for a friend. If I haven't already made you bitterly jealous, see Roseann's post about the Cher Shawls here:
Permalink to Roseann's Blog Entry about Spinners Lace Shawls]
And, ..... Ta Dah!!!! ..... The Cher Shawl:
Link for the Fibertrends pattern of the Spinner's Lace Shawl:
Spinners Shawl Pattern
Don't look for me to ever attempt the above mentioned pattern. I did one lace project a few years ago and I'm still suffering from the post traumatic stress (lace weight version) to this day.
Speaking of moi, I have been spinning my metaphorical wheels a lot more than my actual spinning wheels lately - I've been switching from the PC to the Mac!
It's been at least 5 years since I owned a Mac computer, and that one was a G4, so the move from Windows XP to Mac OSX Snow Leopard has been pretty hard on an old gal like me. If any of you out there decide to get off the Windows treadmill as well, here is a tip that only took me TWO ENTIRE DAYS! to figure out:
The Mac will not join your Linksys wireless network until you change your router from WEP encryption to WPA encryption!
Figuring out that one saved me from stabbing myself to death with aluminum knitting needles. I was ON THE VERGE!
If you have no idea what I was talking about just now, you may be one of those lucky people whose children or husbands run your wireless home network.
I have never succeeded in passing this extremely annoying and thankless job off, and one of my biggest fears in life is that they'll still call me when I'm 80 years old and say, "Mom! my network is down." I'll be forced to grab my walker with the tennis balls on the legs, break out of my nursing home, and drive like Mr. Magoo over to their houses.
I am loving my MacBook though, and at least I managed to figure out how to create my own Widgets. One of the first I created was for Roseann's fabulous knitting and spinning blog, "Possessed to Knit." Here's a screen shot of the Roseann widget, dead center in my MacBook's screen:
Roseann produces so much gorgeous fibery art, so quickly, that you really do have to make an effort to stay current on what she's working on. The Widget helps.
Not that I have totally neglected my own fibery pursuits. After I finished spinning the 50% Suri / 50% Huacaya alpaca roving that I mentioned in a previous post,
handspun suri / huacaya alpaca yarn
I was a little burnt out on wheel spinning, so I decided to go back to the drop spindle for a while. My hand spindle spinning is not the most perfect, but that is actually the point of this whole effort. I was missing the days when I used to spin the uneven, kooky-looking, "designer" yarn that they sell for big bucks in the yarn stores.
Once you've spun up tons of fleece on your wheel, it actually becomes almost impossible not to keep producing the same boring, even yarns. This is especially true if you keep using the fleeces and fibers that you like the most and have the most practice at.
The drop spindle works on the same principle as the spinning wheel but, for me at least, it feels like a whole different activity. I have to try harder to keep the yarn even and I am quite happy that I don't always manage it.
I was also using a new fiber that I'd recently added to my fiber-addict stash. I had this amazing hand-dyed SeaCell / Merino roving that I'd bought from my spinner-girl friends at Shenanigans. I really should not even show you this next photo because the hand-dyed rovings these two girls make are like fiber person crack - horribly addictive - but here is my latest purchase from them:
I've been spinning it up on my Golding drop spindle which, in this photo, I have forced my dog to pose with. He can't spin, but he thinks that he can. At least, he likes to play with the spindle and the yarn. He tends to leave teeth marks on the drop spindles if left unattended - not a nice habit at all - so he is usually banned from playing with my fibery things.
If my warning about roving addiction has not dissuaded you, you can buy the rovings of the Shenanigans girls here:
Shenanigans Hand-Dyed Spinning Fibers
If, way back in the paragraph about the roving, you said, "SeaCell? What the hell?" or something similar, it is seaweed mixed with cellulose.
Hopefully, you all know what Merino is because, otherwise, why are you reading a fiber art blog?
Here is a partial description of the benefits of SeaCell, brazenly lifted from Paradise Fibers' website:
* Supports skin blood flow
* Stimulates skin cell regeneration
* Pleasant touch, comfortable feel
Seaweed is added as the active substance for a good reason. The fact that this marine plant is rich in various minerals, trace elements, carbohydrates, fats and vitamins, has been well-known since the times of Chinese medicine. Moreover, seaweed has been proved to protect the skin and exhibit anti-inflammatory properties...
Well, it's hard to be anti anti-inflammatory properties, but the real reason I like the SeaCell is that it lets the Merino act like Merino - so to speak - but it also makes the yarn a lot less hot. It's an excellent Florida fiber.
Now if I could just convince the Shenanigans girls, Susan and Kimberly, that they need to start doing hand-dyed Alpaca / SeaCell blends. I've tried, but they want ME to pick out the alpaca fleece for them. I keep explaining the I am no longer in the business of BREEDING alpacas.
Know where we can score a white, crimpy, clean, 2-4 inch, inexpensive, alpaca fleece without driving to Maryland?
Below: random photos that I took at the Brevard County, Florida Agricultural Fair where I did a hand spinning demo. The Great Frederick Fair (my old county's fair) was a lot bigger, but THEY did not serve Gator, or feature small children in hamster balls for our entertainment.
socks knit by my friend Mary Beth
How cute they look, when they're trapped in large plastic balls!
But, enough of my silly sentimentality, I have a designer yarn to spin.
Thanks you again Roseann. You're the best.
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Well I had to leave a comment on the blog of my friend Roseann, "Possessed to Knit" about her Cher Alpaca Shawl This shawl was spun up from the fleece of the very first alpaca ever born on my farm so, of course, I need to see how the shawl turned out, and Roseann was taking her time showing the finished masterpiece. All of her spinning and knitting items are masterpieces. Soooo jealous!
You can see photos of Cher, herself, HERE:
Cher the alpaca
Meanwhile, back in Edgewater, Florida, I went to the estate sale of a handspinner.
That's right, EDGEWATER FLORIDA! See why I keep saying that Florida is (shockingly) Fibery?
I found out about this sale on the Ravelry forum "Florida Spinners." Since Edgewater is about 10 minutes from my house in Scottsmoor, I HAD to go - you know, to pay my respects to a fallen spinner and all that.
Not that I didn't do a wee bit of shopping whilst I was there.
I bought the following:
An old-fashioned niddy noddy that has a wooden peg holding the top piece on. When you pull the peg, the top slides down a couple of inches and, voila! your skein slips right off the niddy noddy without a fight. At least this is the theory.
It turned out that this niddy noddy had not been used in a very long time. The peg was stuck tight.
I got my husband to pull the peg while he said a lot of swear words and vented about my habit of buying things without trying them first.
Then I used a plastic crochet hook as a peg until I could repair the wooden niddy noddy peg. That method worked fine but did not look nearly as charming as the all-wood niddy noddy.
I also bought a huge skein of spun linen. This smelled so musty and awful that I washed it twice. I did notice, whilst washing, that this skein of thin linen didn't seem to be tied off very well.
I usually figure-8 tie the heck out of my skeins before I take them off the niddy noddy. This one seemed to be tied in only two places. But, being a little, Pollyanna optimist, I decided that the other handspinner (may she rest in alpaca fiber cloudy heaven) must have known what she was doing.
She owned TWO GREAT WHEELS! (and by great wheels, I do not mean marvelous wheels, of course but, rather, wheels that are very large and have no treadle.)
Well, suffice it to say that I got to the point where the musty smell was replaced by the most lovely, flaxy-linen smell ever, but the skein was not looking any better tied-off after 2 washings.
Here is what it looked like on the swift after it had been washed:
If you have never put one of your own hand spun skeins on a swift and carefully arranged the skein so that it is not turned under or twisted anywhere, you may not realize that a skein that is not tied-off well and arranged properly will quickly become an object of terrible torment to the spinner or would-be knitter.
No matter how much you try to unravel the yarn and roll it into a ball, the yarn keeps getting hung up every 2 inches or so. This is similar to what happens when an evil dog or cat (or toddler for that matter) gets a hold of your yarn, but all the more annoying because, theoretically, it was supposed to be tied-off properly so that it could not tangle.
There is no word I know of for this phenomena, so I call it
There is a special level of hell dedicated to Skein Wreck, where former spinners are made to unravel, overly large, poorly tied-off, very fine, badly twisted skeins. Just to make it more
agonizing, the skeins are always alpaca, cashmere or (Bombyx Mori) silk - nothing that you could feel happy about throwing away. Not that that is an option in skein wreck hell.
Being tortured with Valkyrie wool combs for all eternity would be a welcome relief compared to this.
So, I threw the skein out. Shocking, I know, but I did only pay 50cents for the entire thing, and, having experienced skein wreck before, I knew I would not keep my sanity if I continued trying to unravel it. My fiber friends were aghast!
I try to be charitable and pretend that this, now-passed-from-this-world, spinner might have spun and tied this linen skein before she really knew what she was doing, and just couldn't bear to throw it out.
Maybe she bought the Flax on a special trip somewhere.
She just didn't realize that the fates would be cutting her own thread quite so soon, and never intended for this skein wreck to be sold. I hope I'm right.
I wouldn't want her to be YOU-KNOW-WHERE now!
I also bought some wonderful hand spun yarns in white and multi-colored purple. These I bought already wound in balls, so I skeined them on the niddy noddy and washed them before I ended up by winding them into balls again.
Here is a photo of most of my purchases lined up together:
My favorite purchase at the hand spinner's estate sale might just be the little booklet about all of the different, historical spinning wheels bought at the Ulster Museum for 3 shillings and 6 pence.
Yes, I am a spinning history nerd - and not in the cloakroom about it either!
If you are wondering why I could not resist the plastic toy spinning wheel in the above photo, so am I. There's just something so retro-cute about it. I doesn't really spin though.
This week's alpaca e-mail:
You're invited to join our brand new Herd Sire directory, which will be available as an online resource, as well as in print form. The online
directory will be free to view by anyone, and the printed copy will carry a small fee to cover printing and postage costs.
We are past the planning stage and in the design stage of the herd sire directory, so we are offering a discount for those that sign up now. The special price will be $50/yr. per alpaca. After this promotion ends, the price will be $75/yr per alpaca. The directory will be updated once a year. Blah Blah, etc., etc.
Under subject line: "Help!"
I have several Alpacas 13 to be exact and in the market for more . I am having a problem with finding a site that would be interested in coming
out to shear my Alpacas and buying the wool .Do you know of a site or a place that I can call to help me sale my wool .Thanks
Yeah, where IS that "site" that just calls YOU up and says, "We want to come shear your alpacas for you, then buy your fleece from you. when's good for you?"
So, at the risk of repeating myself -AGAIN- I sell a DVD that teaches alpaca owners how to shear their own alpacas. If you want one, you can get it here:
Alpaca Shearing (and care) DVD
I don't maintain a directory of shearers, nor do I find buyers for YOUR product. Maybe the people who want you to advertise in their herdsire (stud) directory can help you. THEY must still be in the alpaca breeding business.
Or, maybe the person you bought your first 13 alpacas from can help you. Unlike me, THEY are also in the alpaca breeding business.
Sorry to be so mean, but saying it nicely, over and over and over, wasn't working.
Entirely gratuitous photo of an armadillo in my yard:
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