Tuesday, December 1, 2009


I shaved this cozy and it looks better to me. Don't you agree? I used one of Todd's old razors.

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Monday, November 30, 2009

Felted Wine Bottle Cozy

Oh the stuff I do! I just made this thing here.
That is an alpaca wine cozy. In theory it will keep cold wine cold. Unfortunately it does not fit over champagne bottles.
I had a lot of alpaca left over from carding, the stuff that isn't quite up to snuff.
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Undoing my Ravelry Violation

OK, so here it is.

Simple Tapered Scarf
I will explain exactly what I did for this particular scarf but I consider my directions only a suggestion. If you start with more stitches it will be better as a head scarf. I actually have made a series of scarves with this general design, some wider and longer and some narrower and shorter. Any yarn that feels good on our face will do. The key is to use oversized needles to let it drape. So do not worry about gauge or any of that, cast on and go!

This is natural fawn suri alpaca from ohio that I hand carded and spun.
It’s fingering weight.

The pattern is simple. It’s all stockingette stitches with gradual decreases. You need 40 inch circular 10 sized needles. In metric that’s 100 cm circular 6 mm sized needles.

1)Do a Cat Bordhi magic cast on with 70 stitches on top, 70 stitches on the bottom.
2)Round 1-3 Knit, only the top stitches, we’ll get to the bottom stitches after step 7.
3)Round 4 K34 K2tog K to end
4)Round 5 Knit
5)Repeat Round 4(but keep K2tog in center of row), and Round 5 until there are 20 stitches left
6)K2tog in center every row until there are 8 stitches left
7)Bind off remaining stitches together and weave in end
8)Repeat steps 1-7 on the bottom

if you like the colors of my scarf you may hand paint it as I did.

Here's some images pertinant to this pattern.

A beginning of a scarf modeled by Sally.

Some scarves combined

Possibly my favorite

Three scarves braided together

For those who are unfamiliar with Cat Bordhi's magic cast on, this video is for you. It taught me!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Alpaca Fleeces

I have been dyeing some fleeces. washing and dyeing and it is fun. I have used mason jars to do little batches, slightly different colors and random fleece.

My thoughts seems scattered but I've done a lot and haven't posted in a while.

I discovered via ravelry Fermented Suint Mix which reminds me of bokashi. I actually have inoculated my mix with a little bokashi juice and added a little epsom salt since alpaca do not sweat like sheep.

Anyway, a fleece I dyed today is very, very nice. The one I did yesterday is nice but not like this one. They are both huacaya but all alpaca are different.

hopefully I'll get my camera back from the county so I may post pictures soon.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

My Learning Curve

My learning curve. Perhaps it is getting slightly less steep. Abe looks annoyed here but I assure you that's his macho look. I am knitting a pair of mermaid gloves. Craftaholic has inspired alot of people with this design which is... well, go to the blog post and you'll see. I have a feeling that mine won't be quite as nice as some but they'll do. I was going to make socks but those gloves are just so beautiful.
I am starting to stockpile batts. I think I should sit on them for a while rather than try to sell them. As I have said before my learning curve is getting less steep but it is still pretty steep and our economy is pretty bad. You'll notice that some batts are vividly dyed. Those are my latest. Some however are less vivid in part because I started with fawn but still they would be brighter if I had known then what I know now. The pre-dye soak is helped with salt and citric acid. That has made a world of difference.
Basically my fleeces are all bargain basement. They were all in garbage bags and not very clean. Quality is inconsistent but overall so far has been high.
So anyway I have been working with a couple 'jane doe' fleeces, that is a suri and huacaya that did not have any name written on them. I wonder if this is a reflection of their quality because they both seem to have a shorter staple than most of what I have worked with so far but they still are both pretty fine. I sorta feel most comfortable experimenting with lesser stuff.
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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Photos do not do justice...

to alpaca. I pulled out a chocolate fleece today and washed half of it. This is a huacaya but it is very silky, it shows strong suri tendencies. I have a feeling I will like this fleece.

I also dyed some suri and huacaya red, and this time I managed to dye it a good deep red. I am starting to understand how to get alpaca to take dye. It helps to soak it in water with salt and citric acid. I think I might blend the 2 varieties of alpaca. Maybe I should spin up something fine and attempt some sort of lacy thing. I'm not big on red but I'm not opposed to it either, it has to be the right shade and I like this shade. The problem is it really does take time, each process. I sorta have to slow thing down to stick with something.

It sorta amazes me how different each fleece is. Not just the texture but the smell. The chocolate fleece has an earthy grassy smell. I washed it but it still smells like the animal. I think it will take spinning and washing then knitting and washing for that smell to go away. Some fleeces do not smell that good, but this one does. The alpaca it came from is named Dottie.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Stucco's Scarf

I finished Todd's scarf. I think the color there is pretty close to reality. I am finding that the things I make here translate much better in person than via a photo. Just the incredible texture cannot be translated. I love suri.
On Todd's head is a hat I knitted him years ago. It is huacaya cria. I can't say which is softer. The hat is partially felted. It is a better texture for a hat. Anyway, when it gets colder, Todd will be ready.
I also changed my initial design. Instead of reducing it a stitch every other row, I reduced by a stitch every 4 rows. I started with 54 stitches in the center via magic cast on as illustrated by my previous post, beginning a scarf and decreased at that rate until I had 26 stitches then I increased the decrease to a stitch every other row. When if had 20 stitches I decreased a stitch every row until it had 5 stitches and I bound that off, weaving in the end.
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Monday, October 12, 2009

Beginning a Scarf

Here's my basic scarf design. I start from the middle as shown by doing the magic cast on, onto 40 inch circular needles. In this case I am using a sport weight yarn, 64 stitches, on 9 sized needles. I did a few rows straight up knit and am now reducing by one stitch every other row. When I am down to 20 or so stitches I will probably decrease one stitch every row until there's 5 left and then I'll end it. I will complete one half this way and turn it around to complete the other.
For this project I spun up 2 skeins that more or less have the same color progression. I doctored the photo as the colors looked off to me. They are still off but whatever.
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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Some Steps

I'm trying to make a scarf for Todd that I won't be inclined to steal, something that isn't a 'girly' scarf. What follows is an attempt. I monkeyed with the colors in the photos as they are not true to life. These are closer I think.
I intended to spin this up thin so I made some pencil roving. I don't understand why people say suri is hard to spin. I have no perspective but I've found it just as simple as anything else. much of my roving came from Zinn's fleece, which has very long locks. This may have made things easier, though it sure didn't help make the carding easier! That was a pain.
Here's what the yarn looks like. I measured out the roving to alternate colors regularly. I have a pretty specific scarf design that starts out wide in the center and tapers. So for the dirty purple I started with 10 measures then ended with 7 as I alternated with the other colors.
I decided to post my drying rack. We have a 2nd full bathroom that we seldom use that had no soap shelves built in so we ended up putting this corner shower shelf thing in when we had some folks staying with us and it is perfect for stretching out freshly washed skeins.
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Saturday, October 10, 2009

I decided I wanted some socks for myself (or sexy socks)

The socks, with gratuitous knude knees
So, I've been all about the suri. I love love love suri. But it isn't the thing for socks unless I do something really fine and fancy. I think it's beautiful for fairly fine scarves, shawls and stoles and I think I wanna do a skirt but socks? Nope!
I was feeling guilty for making things not for others so I told Todd I'd make him some socks. Fortunately I had a large skein that I hadn't used which is amazing for me. Generally I spin something than knit it up immediately. If I need more, I must spin more which also means more carding. What a process! We really do have it easy now.
OK, so here's me deciding something that is forcing me to wash, dye, card and spin something. I have an off white huacaya fleece labeled 'blue' that I used. I finally suceeded in dying something bright colors. I suppose that learning things from google takes time. Maybe if I had in addition to pre-washing with synthrapol if I were to add some citric acid and some salt my fiber will take dye better. I think that's how it works.
Anyway, I could have taken pictures but I can't get cat's to pose with wet fiber. It's just bright turquoise and purple stuff, this time it might be too bright. I might experiment with blending it with some darker fleece to tone it down. I sorta can' t wait to see how this goes.
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Orange Suri Twist and Raw Purple

I got lazy and made a twist instead of a braid
My orange twist model is making it difficult to post. Sally has conquered my chest. Oh the hazards of couch blogging! Whew! She just left.
I was going to make a third batt, probably natural fawn blended with orange but I did this twist instead. They are orange and orange blended with red.
Three dye lots of purple.
It's hard to get a good picture showing the color variation within one dye lot. I did some monkeying with various effects to show improve the photo with limited results. And then once I card the fleece the colors are so less exciting. Imagine a beautiful delicious dinner thrown into a blender. Or maybe it's really like flour. Yarn is cake batter and a pair of socks is some cupcakes.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

3rd Suri Braid

I guess I've got a thing about cats
Yes, I now have three braids. How many more do I make before I actually try to sell them? Any spinning lurkers out there salivating? These are pretty and soft. I can do custom work if desired. I do wish to dye my colors darker and more vibrant but that'll come so the learning curve is still pretty steep. I need to get a cheap pot so I don't have to do my mason jar thing.

I forgot to mention the small shawl next to Abe. It is a blend of natural off-white and fawn suri spun together which came from Nikita. The shawl is now a cat blanket more than anything else.
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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Suri Roving Braids

I love using cats to model things.

So here's my 1st 2 roving braids. They all came from Zinn's fleece except for 50% of the yellow which is unidentified. I used a flash photo because it better illustrates how shiny suri is.
If I sell this,what should I charge? Should I just stockpile this considering how slowly I produce this stuff and wait for the unemployment rate to improve? Two years ago I'm pretty sure my profit margin would have been much higher but I also would have paid more for the fleeces.
Anyway, the bluish braid has all pea green roving, carder blended blue and purple, and carder blended green and blue. I carded the colors together three times from the raw dyed fleece. The earthy braid is natural fawn, dyed yellow and dyed orange. Each braid is just over 3 ounces in weight.
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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Two-tone Suri Yarn

This is my 1st attempt at blending colors in the carder. I thought I'd try just mixing these colors. Here is the result.
And here is a batt that shows That I simply carded yellow on top of red just after carding each color separately twice. I can say that for this second batch I had technical problems because the fawn came from Zinn's fleece who has excessively long locks. They kept getting stuck on the licker drum which I would feed onto the main drum. I sorta think I should do something special with Zinn's fleece because it is so long but I don't know what.
I threw in this picture of the 'rainbow socks' which do not look like a rainbow now. They ended up being a little bit too large for Todd's feet so I shrank them slightly. Now they fit perfectly whehter he chooses to wear them alone or over another pair of socks. The colors became muted though, now they are blue with colorful flecks, better suited to Todd. I finally managed to make him something nice!
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Monday, September 28, 2009

Snake Scarf

We begin this post with Abe posing with a lock frim Zinn. Zinn produced an all fawn fleece that is cottier than alpaca generally is with very lovely LONG locks. I believe this is ideal for doll hair but imagine they will gum up my carder a little. I understand that industrial carders do not work with locks longer than 4 inches. Is this lock softer than Abe? Not quite but it's pretty close. I have met a few cats with fur less soft than this, like perhaps a certain feral cat, but Abe is just very soft.
This scarf came from Nikita's fleece which is fawn and beige. Hers is the 1st suri fleece I have worked with. This scarf is also shownbraided I thought I'd post a better picture because of all my hand painted experiments this one is the most successful.

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Modular Shawls/Scarves

Considering that I am pretty much making a scarf in every color it is easy for me to play with them. I discovered this way of suspending a shawl.
I suppose that none I have made can really be called a shawl but it works as one. I could see this look being pretty sexy with a nice evening dress. I am not in tune with fashion, I was saddened to read somewhere that square toed shoes are not in style because they seem bearably comfortable compared with the pointy ones women wear.

Anyway, I can't imagine a world where an incredible soft and warm suri alpaca shawl is not in style.
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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Frisco Rainbow

Wow that sounds sorta gay. Hope I do not offend anyone by that observation but really! If I google "Frisco Rainbow" what images will appear.


Hmm, it's less exciting than I imagined. I like the poodle. This was by the way not a safe search.

For those who missed my previous post, Frisco is the name of the alpaca whose fleece made this yarn. I just dyed this and showing little restraint ended up with rainbow colored yarn. Now imagine how much brighter it would be if it had started out being white.
It was not white, it was fawn, actually it was this color. Below is, dare I say it, my mom contemplating eggplants from my garden. For those curious they are ghostbuster and turkish orange. The hat and scarf she is wearing both came from Frisco's fleece.I washed this hat and scarf combo about 8 times before it stopped feeling waxy. Yes, Frisco's fleece feels waxy, not quite greasy, more waxy but once it's clean it is pretty nice.
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4th scarf almost complete

Yup. I am going to experiment with some yarn painting today. I have a 2 ply huacaya fawn skein I spun up a while back. It came from a herdsire named Frisco who for some reason has a greasy fleece. After much washing the quality is pretty decent, though it does not feel as nice as what I've been working with for the past month or so.

I think I want to make a pair of socks for my sweetheart. I feel like I am neglecting him, though he is pleased with the scarves I've made.

It really amazes me how much fleeces vary from animal to animal, not just based on suri versus huacaya.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Scarf on the Wire

I decided it would be nice to post a scarf being made to show what I am doing. My idea was to make a hybrid between a scarf and a shawl. Most of the yarn I have spun has been pretty fine. I have been knitting it up on fairly large needles for its gauge so they can be pretty wide without being bulky.

So after 2 scarves I settled on doing a magic cast on to start it in the middle, its widest part. If you don't know the magic cast on, watch Cat Bordhi demonstrates Judy Becker's Magic Cast-On. It's how I really figured it out even though I did buy her book. So I have one 40"(100cm) needle which holds both the top and bottom. I knit a few straight rows and am now decreasing one stitch every other row.

I've been making each scarf a little wider and longer than the last. The 3 scarves in the last post were knitted with a fine fawn yarn then dyed after completion. The scarf in this post was fiber dyed, that is the fiber was dyed before carding or spinning. I suppose this could be "Barbara Bush Blue". While I was never particularly fond of her, though I think Laura Bush is pretty cool, I do like this color. I understand that blue is universally appealing to people. I want to do a red/orange scarf next.
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Braided Scarves

I wanted to use a cat to model this but it's damp and cats hate that. This looks like roving but as the title says, these are scarves. I made up a very simple tapered design. I've had a lot of fun using these in modular ways which I'd like to illustrate later.
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Friday, September 18, 2009

Study in Suri

I have been experiementing with dyes. Nothing fancy but the colors make my brain go 'zing'. The cat enjoys the texture.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Cats and Alpaca

I have a lot of affection for both cats and alpaca. I have personally met only a few alpaca but have been impressed.

This 1st shows the cheddarhead eating in my lap. I have broken the rules of taming a feral cat by picking him up and forcing him to eat in my lap. This is clearlyas you can see in this photo sheer torture! I have an alpaca shawl in my lap which protects my knees from his claws which he tend to dig into my knees no matter how many times I tell the Cheddarhead to stop. I made the shawl from storebought yarn.
This second images shows Abe wrapped up in a small suri shawl which I made from raw fleece. Yes, I carded, spun and knitted this all myself. The alpaca that provides the fleece is named Nikki and lived in Ohio. Perhaps s/he stills live there. I just know that the bag of fleece had Nikki written on it.
Believe it or not Abe likes being wrapped up in soft things. Sometimes he gets cold.
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