Tag Archives: Alpaca

Special Mittens

Late last year I was asked to make a special pair of mittens.  A mom had just purchased a headband for her daughter who has cerebral palsy.  The young lady’s hands are clenched into fists due to the disease.  This makes the thumbs on mittens stick out oddly and makes gloves out of the question.  So we chatted for a short time and came up with a way to make mittens that would fit these special hands.

Once my old wash machine was installed just for the purpose of felting, I was ready to give our idea a try.

felting in action

Felting in action

Using my sock yarn of 95% alpaca / 5% nylon and following my usual mitten pattern, I knit an extra long cuff.  I skipped the shaping for a thumb, and knit fewer rows for the hand.  Overall, the length of the mitten is about the same as my regular mittens.  After sewing the seam, I gave the mittens a big swish in the wash machine to felt them slightly.  Once dry, they’ll be ready for delivery!

completed mittens

Mittens complete

The felting will make them warmer.  I think there is still enough of this winter left that these mittens will get plenty use.  I sure hope so.

I enjoyed the challenge of adapting a familiar pattern for a special purpose.

 

 

Spotsie’s contribution

A few years back I used up some of my not-so-soft alpaca yarn knitting wrist warmers which I then felted.  I called them my ‘manly man’ wrist warmers because they were far from delicate or feminine.  Their place was with the ice fishermen and hunters.  But I noticed the ladies were trying them on and buying them for themselves, so I made more in smaller sizes until I had used up all my old ‘strong’ yarn.  After they were gone, I still had people asking about them – wanting the felted wrist warmers, not the pretty soft ones I had for sale.

And so after shearing this year, I had 2 fleeces from Spotsie (this year’s and last year’s).  Now Spotsie will be 10 years old this fall and her fiber is pretty coarse, but I had it spun into worsted weight.

white yarn

Spotsie’s yarn

On my last big dyeing day, I dyed some of the yarn and dyed the remainder in a pot earlier this week.

pile of green yarn

Dyed green

Some is green, some light purple, some a light brown/gray.  2000 yards in all.

2 balls of yarn

Wound into balls

Then it is wound into balls.

6 knit wrist warmers

Knitting is done

The wrist warmers knit up quickly on the knitting machine.

2 pair of seamed wrist warmers

Seaming done

Seams are sewn, leaving the thumb hole.

5 pair felted

Felting done

After agitation in the hot suds of the wash machine and a few hours hanging outside to dry, I have 5 pair of light purple felted wrist warmers.

size comparison

Before and after felting

The size is reduced considerably in the felting process.  I should have 5 pair of the gray/brown and 6 pair of the green, for a total of 16 pair.  They will soon be available at craft show or farmer’s market!

Thank you, Spotsie, for providing just the fiber I needed for this project.

Amazing Shawl

I while back while at Anoka Fiber Works I met a gal who had purchased some white roving my shop space there.  She had spun the roving on a supported spindle and it was lovely.  I think the fiber was from my alpaca Carley.  The goal was to knit a shawl from the yarn.

shawl

Before blocking

And before I knew it, this spinner/knitter had finished a lovely shawl and sent me pictures of it.

shawl being blocked

Being blocked

Beautiful.

shawl after blocking

After blocking

Lovely.

close up of lace

Close up

Lace detail.

shawl being worn

Being worn

And looks great on!  An especially amazing project to complete by spinning on a spindle and knitting!  So proud to have contributed just a little!

Drawing a blank?

I’ve knit a few sock blanks from my new sock yarn.  Do you know what sock blanks are?  Have you tried them?  Do you like them?

Sock blanks are a rectangular piece of knitting using 2 strands of white (or very light) sock yarn.  This rectangle is then hand dyed or painted in any way – the more intricate the better.  After drying, the rectangle is unraveled with each strand being wound into its own ball.  The result is 2 balls of identical yarn to knit into 2 matching socks. Perfectly matched socks every time!  No muss, no fuss!

sock blank

Sock blank

Here’s why I think my sock blanks are really great!

  • They are made from my 95% alpaca / 5% nylon sock yarn
  • There is 300 yards of yarn, 150 yd per sock
  • They are knit in the rib stitch, not stockinette, so they lay flat for dyeing
  • The rib stitch is loose, so dye will soak through and dye evenly
  • The rib stitch is loose, so unraveling will be easy
  • They have ample ‘scrap’ yarn on the end to start unraveling so you can easily find the ends
  • And… ( I think this is very cool)
loop at beginning

Bonus!

At the beginning, which will be the last to be unraveled, is a loop.  If you are making socks, just snip your 2 balls of yarn apart.  But if you would like to make a very uniquely dyed scarf, you can knit one ball from the center, the other from the outside of the ball and your scarf will be mirrored from end to end.  THAT is one of a kind!

Are you ready to try sock blanks?  I would love to see your results!

Big day dyeing

I managed to sneak in a really big day of dyeing when we had a rare dry and warm day a week or so ago.  I dyed 60 skeins in one day.   I had 4 dye pots going most of the time.

yarn drying

Sock yarn

By the end of the day, I had my drying rack filled with yarn that had been dyed, rinsed, washed, rinsed, and in a vinegar bath for a final color set.

drying rack, side 2

Lace and Royal Baby

The rack had to come inside to finish drying, some was still dripping, but I was thrilled with my accomplishment.

Now it is all re-skeined and looking very pretty.  All ready to go to out on the town!

sock yarn

Sock yarn

This is my sock yarn.  It is 95% alpaca, 5% nylon, 300 yards, $25 each.   It will still felt, so will make great felted mittens as well as socks or hats or scarves.  The nylon will give it more durability.  The skeins in the photo are stacked 2 deep except the 2 skeins are on the far right.

super soft yarn

Royal Baby yarn

This is my super soft yarn, under 20 microns, royal baby 100% alpaca, 300 yards, $25 each.  You need to feel this to believe it!  Great for anything you want next to your skin!  Again, the skeins are 2 deep, so there is 600 yards of most colors.

lace yarn

Lace weight yarn

And lastly, this is my lace weight yarn, 100% alpaca, 300 yard skeins, $18.  Perfect for shawls or scarves.

A few skeins have already be spoken for, but the remainder will be going to Llama Magic and Fiber Friends festival on May 10 – 11 and then on to Shepherd’s Harvest on May 17 – 18.  I look forward to seeing all my fiber family at these events.

Cuffs, at last!

How long have I been writing, talking, thinking about making boot cuffs?   I’m sure you’re as tired of ‘all talk and no action’ as I am.  But I really have been making progress.  I made a couple designs I didn’t like, one I liked okay and then this!

blue boot cuff

Boot Cuff Success

I wanted something simple, so I could reproduce and make enough for craft shows and markets.  But I wanted something unique about them, too.  I finally hit upon an idea that also satisfied my biggest problem with machine knitting.

When knit on a flat bed machine, most things are knit… well, flat!  And that means a seam is needed for a boot cuff.  I wanted my boot-cuff wearers to have the option of pulled up or folded over their boot.   But how to hide a seam?

violet boot cuffs

Cuffs in violet

The answer?  Don’t hide it, make it a feature!  I’m using an afghan latch stitch.  It looks the same on both sides and makes a lovely open lattice panel that is definitely worth showing off.

I have 2 pair (dark green and purple) for sale at Anoka Fiber Works ($25 / pr) and these 2 pair which will go in my online store.

I would love to hear what you think of them.

Something new

Yes, I have felted many different ways, making many different things, but yesterday I tried something that has been brewing in my mind for quite some time.  Something new.

felted square vase

Felted square vase

I made a pattern – just an oval-ish shaped piece of plastic – and wrapped and felted alpaca fiber around it, removed the plastic, and felted it a bit more.

square vase

Square vase

My sizing was pretty far off as I thought this would fit around a glass jar between a pint and half pint.  But, I really had to stretch it around this square vase which would probably hold more than a quart.   Ooops.  Lesson learned.

Try #2.

felted glass

Felted glass

I made a smaller pattern and tried again.   Again, bigger than I expected, but I was able to felt and full it to fit snugly around this tall glass.  With the glass vase inside, they can be used as a candle holder or as a vase for real or artificial flowers.

lit with a candle

With a candle

Above is in partial darkness with a votive size battery-operated LED ‘candle’ that changes colors.

Purple lite inside

Lit from within

The darker the room, the more the colored light shows through.

tall vase with blue light

Partial light

On the tall one, the inside glass ends where the felt begins to flare out.  The felt is thick enough to stand up on its own, but thin enough for light to shine through.

fuscia light inside

Lit with fuschia

Now that I have succeeded in the basics, I’m thinking of ways to add dyed fiber or make cut-outs in the felt.  I would love to hear what you think of these.  Would you use them as flower vases?  Candle holders?  To hold buttons or other doo-dads?  Or don’t you like them?