In case any of you are still mad that I did not return your calls with questions about the alpaca fleece show at the Great Frederick Fair (see entry below) I was huddled up in a hotel room in the Yucatan with extra bottles of water, crackers and candles waiting to get pounded by Hurricane Dean. I hope you feel bad for being impatient with me now!
Above is the little chart that appeared in the "Diario de Yucatan" on my birthday this year. This chart was scanned as-is from the newspaper except the very little red dot, which was added by me to show the exact location of myself, my husband and our kids on August 17. In case you don't read spanish, that headline reads, "a menacing trajectory." This was a CATEGORY 5! The CNN guys were wetting themselves in excitement about our impending doom. In the end (after a few tense days) the storm passed just below us.
So, sorry if I called you back late but my flight was scheduled for the day the hurricane hit. However, we WILL be pushing back the deadline for alpaca fleece entries at the Great Frederick Fair due to me not being happy with the amount of entries so Please Enter Right Now! Just think of how good your chance to win is when other people are too lazy to enter! Did I mention the amazingly knowledgeable judge and the big, shiny ribbons?
Meanwhile, back at the farm, I have, of course, not finished my own two entries for the alpaca show and time is getting short......
Still trying to finish hand combing my little baby fleece mentioned in
Here is me, "charging the comb" otherwise known as filling the little hand comb with pieces of alpaca but NOT TOO FULL! In case you don't know, fleeces that are combed and spun tightly are called "worsted" preparation and those that are carded and spun loosely are "woolen" preparation. That matters if you want a men's suit made out of alpaca (worsted) as opposed to a crew neck, fisherman's sweater (woolen.) We don't want our suits to be fluffy nor our sweaters to be shiny and flat.
Then I "comb" from one comb to the other holding them perpendicular to one another. Whatever is stuck on the original comb and won't comb off should be thrown out as these are shorter pieces. When you comb a fleece, you end up throwing out about half of it! But, what is left is really perfect and aligned with no pills, bumps or slubs.
After I comb back and forth from comb to comb, throwing out what is left behind the tines each time, I carefully draw off the "sliver." If you have never heard the word sliver, it is the equivalent of "roving" but rovings are "carded" with hand cards or a drum carder, not combed.
Now, if I wanted to be absolutely perfect in my worstedness, I would have draw the sliver off of the comb through a "diz." However, I am just too lazy to do that even though I do own a very cute little diz made of caribou horn or some such thing. Here is a photo of a diz:
Here is my "cheater's sliver."
If I finish enough of these little guys, I will be able to spin them up in time to make one of my two hand spun alpaca skein entries for the great Frederick Fair.
Speaking of which, we will be judging the fleeces there on Monday, September 17th after 10 am. Come and meet alpaca fleece expert Wini Labrecque and learn all about alpaca fleece judging by watching and hearing her comments. We'll be at the entrance to the sheep barns.
See you there!
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Wini Labrecque judging alpaca fleeces at the Great Frederick Fair, 2006
IMPORTANT NOTICE!!! We will be judging the fleeces at the alpaca fleece show at the Great Frederick Fair, 2007 on Monday, September 17 and NOT Sunday September 16 as stated in the catalog. I will be receiving fleeces for the show on Saturday, September 15 from 9am until 3pm but you have to pre-enter so keep reading!
Alpacas and fleeces from ANY STATE may enter this regional fair!
OK, I have already tried to nag you into entering the Great Frederick Fair's alpaca fleece show (in my previous post) but I would be crazy not to gloat about the Super-Amazing fleece show judge whose services I have secured as judge of this year's fleece show at the Great Frederick Fair. She is, of course, Wini Labrecque!
I have had the pleasure of serving as alpaca fleece show superintendent for several alpaca shows with Wini as our judge and she has always gone way above and beyond when it came to spending time educating the alpaca fleece exhibitors about how they could have done better, in preparing their fleeces, what characteristics each fleece possessed; she even discusses the overall health of their alpacas based on what she sees in their fleeces. This woman is the real thing! To get the opinion of this person for only a $10. (hand spun skeins only $7!) is a pretty serious bargain. Don't miss out on it!
PS. We also give HUGE, pretty ribbons AND money if you win!
If you are not sure that you know how to prepare your alpaca fleeces, Enter the Show and get Wini's opinion of what you could have done better! This show caters to brand new alpaca exhibitors. No one will make you feel foolish. I am the superintendent and I guarantee it!
Wini is a teacher of spinning, felting and weaving. She also co-owns a business that provides custom fiber services from hand spinning to finished knit or woven clothing from the owner's own fleeces. She is currently involved in a project to develop a wash and wear alpaca fabric. She is working with the NC College of Textiles in Research & Development of this product. She also gives an excellent seminar in how to skirt your alpaca fleeces.
Her experience in judging alpaca fleece shows, spinning competitions and in lecturing on alpaca fleece topics is too extensive to list out here. You can find out more on her website:
To see the blog entry showing Wini judging and lecturing alpaca fleece exhibitors at last year's Great Frederick Fair, please click here:
Blog Entry - Wini judging alpaca fleeces 2006
To Enter the Great Frederick Fair Alpaca Fleece and/or Halter Show, please go here:
Catalog Pages for Entry in Great Frederick Fair Alpaca Show
Uh Oh, I better get my own alpaca skein entries finished. See you at the Fair!
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my son, Nick - napping in the alpaca pen at the Great Frederick Fair
Once Again, I will be the alpaca fleece show superintendent for the
Great Frederick Fair's Alpaca Fleece Show.
This is NOT a county fair, but a large, regional, agricultural fair with huge crowds of people. This is a fair where I have sold alpacas & breedings and bought alpacas and breedings and so have many others. So there are many potential customers here. But, it is a fun, laid back show and very inexpensive to enter!
PLEASE ENTER both halter classes and the fleece show, especially the FLEECE SHOW! Here is a link to the fair catalog's entry info:
Fair Catalog - alpaca page
Want to know how fun this fair is?, what it's like to show there? What it looks like and what other things are going on there? Here is a link to some of my blog entries from last year's Great Frederick Fair along with MANY photos.
Great Frederick Fair 2006 Blog Entries
New to alpaca showing and scared to go in the ring? Want pointers? Here is a link to my blog entry on how to show alpacas:
Secrets of Alpaca Showing
Want to know how to enter your fleeces at Frederick? Just e-mail me from the link saying "Contact Me" above at right or call me, Kate Perez, at: (301) 607-9129.
Warning! I have a well-deserved reputation for bullying other alpaca people into using, showing and selling their fleeces! If enough of you alpaca people don't enter the fleece show, I'll have to hunt you down and that won't be pretty so
Don't Make Me Come Find You!
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Yay, I finally got my brand new, Alpaca Heritage Events T-shirt from Yvette ( Wool and Gray Alpacas ) but, for some reason, they forgot to write "President Emerita of Alpaca Heritage Events" on the back like they were supposed to. I love it though - thanks Yvette and other "current" members of Alpaca Heritage Events.
Meanwhile, I continue to toil away at combing the rose-gray alpaca fleece of my doomed Galadriel (mentioned in the previous post) and, when my hands get too sore, I switch to knitting on my Crazy Alpaca Scarf. I decided to take some of my left over hand spun alpaca yarns and put them together in a crazy scarf and, when it is done, I will throw it in the washer and full it. For those of you who are not in-the-know about fleece related crafts, "Felting" is only the correct word if you are taking the raw alpaca fiber and felting it into something. If you knit first and then felt, it is called "fulling"or sometimes, even "cheating" because it's much easier than real felting. Okay - lecture over.
I happen to have a fondness for weird knitted items. If I were a Harry Potter character (3 days left and counting!!! and, I am going out on a limb here but I predict that Snape killed Dumbledore on Dumbledore's orders!) I would definitely be Mrs. Weasley with all her strange, half-ugly, knitted clothing, so this crazy alpaca scarf will either be weird-but-cool or just plain weird. We won't know until we see it. Here is it almost halfway done:
I feel like I spend a lot of time this summer answering the well-meaning question: "Don't you miss the alpacas?" Well, yeah. Wouldn't you? But, I have my ways of coping.
Aside from working on various alpaca fleece projects, I can also cheer myself up by reminding myself that I still have nice little animals around to enjoy. In fact, I have been stalking a Momma Deer and her twin fawns all summer on the pretext that I have to "practice" learning the controls of my new Digital SLR camera. (This camera IS pretty hard to learn though!)
So I have crawled around the edges of my cornfield, crouched behind a bunch of cat-o-nine tails on the edge of my pond and run through the woods looking through the lens of my camera trying to get that perfect deer or baby deer shot. I don't recommend the latter - a lot of facial scratches and poison ivy rashes later, I still didn't get the shot but I did manage to trip over a stump and slam into the ground hard. Of course I held the camera up in the air to protect it during the fall. I have health insurance but not camera insurance.
Turns out that photographing alpacas was hard but getting actual "WILDLIFE" is MUCH harder. Here are some of my early efforts:
Momma Deer jumping out of cornfield
Momma Deer and one of the twins running through cornfield - otherwise known as the "butt shot."
Blurry baby deer exiting the woods.
Baby deer now in focus - if only tree was not located right there!
This shot of the deer in front of my pond would have been so great - if only it had been in focus!
Whenever I did not have my camera with me, the deer seemed content to just stand and stare at me or even lie on the grass dozing as I walked by them - THE LITTLE BRATS!
I got this photo of Mama deer when she walked up to me and did that scary huffing noise and stamped her little hooves at me as if to say, "Stop following us!"
And, I had given up on getting the twins at all when I walked out in the middle of the day to let my dog out and found them dozing on my back lawn.
OK, they are not alpacas but the are sort of alpaca-ish. Same body size and type but without the fleece. Now that I do not have to worry about them giving Meningeal Worm to my alpacas, I feel very fond of them.
Meanwhile, back on the farm of my friend Amanda Little Wing Farm Alpacas , her girl, Goddess, had been refusing to drop that cria even though she was at least a month overdue. She finally had her on July 15 but at least she was smart enough to give birth by 8:30 a.m. before it got too hot. No word on the name of this pretty little girl:
And, lest I forget my own alpaca girls (OK, OK, my FORMER alpaca girls!) Sue Hammer Wildwood Alpacas sent this photo of the sons of Pinka (the pretty white boy on the left) and Gladdie . Their moms are immortalized on my website under the History of our Farm page.
And finally, for those of you who remember my old post about Tom Perez Alpaca Farmer vs. Tom Perez, politician, where I mocked the politician and then ran into him at our kids' summer camp, HERE , here is a photo of the two Toms - together at last.That should end the controversy about whether MY Tom Perez - former alpaca farmer and alpaca shearer extraordinaire (on right in photo) is the same Tom Perez who ran for attorney general of MD.
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