Tag Archives: farm tour

Out of my hands

I had a most difficult time getting the white fiber that I purchase from Kinney Valley Alpacas.  I got part of it in May, but with cold weather that delayed shearing and busy schedules that seemed to be always out of sync, things didn’t come together until a week or so ago.  Finally, I had all the fiber and I could get to work.  Last week I spent a good part of Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday cleaning and sorting fiber.

My first goal was to get at least 25 pounds for sock yarn.  I got nearly 30 pounds in the 21 – 23 micron range, in my estimation.  This came from about a dozen different alpacas’ blankets.  I will have Rachel mix this with a bit of nylon and spin it into sport weight yarn.  I haven’t yet determined how much nylon – more on that in a future post.

My second group of fiber is what the industry calls baby or royal baby alpaca.  I estimate the micron count between 15 and 19.  I got about 11 pounds from nine or so alpacas’ blankets.   Most of these were crias and they were very full of vegetable matter.  This I will have spun into fingering weight.  It will make lovely baby garments.

I also wanted to have some lace weight yarn spun.  I lined up locks from the remaining blankets.

six locks of fiber

Six locks to compare

These all had micron counts a little stronger / higher than the above batches.  My estimated micron counts on these was 24 – 25.  Since lace is such a thin yarn and requires a tight twist, a little stronger fiber works well.  From the above samples 1, 5 and 6 were the most similar.

three fiber samples

Down to three

They were closest in length and fineness, so I combined those 3 for about 11 pounds of fiber to be spun into lace weight yarn.

4 bags of fiber

All my fiber

Those are really big bags!  They total nearly 50 pounds of fiber.  And now all that fiber is at Rach-Al-Paca Fiber Processing.  I’m so happy to have it off my plate for awhile.  The sad news is that it will be nearly the end of the year before it is done!  I look forward to getting it all back to be dyed!

In the mean time, I’m busy getting ready for our Farm Tour.  This weekend, Sept 28 & 29, 10 – 5 each day.  Projects for kids, face painting, spinning demos, shopping, alpacas to see and feed a treat, lunch stand by a 4-H club.  We would love to have you come by for a visit!



Back to dyeing!

I’ve been waiting for the chance to do some dyeing with the new colors I got a while back and the white yarn I had processed at Rach-Al-Paca’s mill. 

Step 1:  Skein up a whole lot of yarn:

yarn skeins

Skeins to be dyed

Step 2:  Hang the wet yarn to drip until dyeing is done:

hanging yarn

Wet yarn

Even though it was rather windy, I managed to keep my dye-pots hot and the colors appeared like magic!

Step 3: After washing, rinsing and rinsing again with a little vinegar, the water is spun from the yarn in the wash machine and the yarn is hung to dry:

drying yarn

Side one

My little drying rack is loaded.

hanging yarn

Side two

 Both sides are full.

hanging yarn

And more

 And this pipe is holding more skeins.

hanging yarn

The last of the yarn

 The yarn on this pipe is the odd amounts for custom projects or to be knit into products.

Step 4:  After the yarn is dry, I re-skein it to make it look better:


Which is better?

Each pair of skeins above is the same color.  The one on the left has been re-wound into a neat skein with the multiple colors blended as they will look when knit into a project. I think they look better.  Do you?


Here’s half

 I have 28 new skeins of yarn for sale.  Those who visit during Farm Tour will have the first chance at this yarn! 


And the rest of the yarn

I have 2 and 3 of some of the color combos.  I even have a couple in camo and blaze for the knitters with hunters in their lives! 

I hope to see you all at Farm Tour – Sept 29 -30 – at our farm.

Farm Tour 2012 – coming to farm near you?

This year’s Farm Tour weekend is coming up so fast!  Are you coming to see us?  We are working really hard to be ready for you.  We are using a new sign this year.

farm tour sign

Coming from the north – turn right!

It is on loan from the local Knights of Columbus group.   We have it across County Road 23 from our drive way just north of Becker, MN.

farm tour sign

Coming from the south – Turn left

We’ll have fiber projects for the kids to do again, and a spinning demonstration.  We have a 4-H club lined up to have a little lunch stand.  I’ll have my gift shop moved out to the barn and the alpacas are waiting to greet you!  If you want to be a big hit, bring some dandelion leaves – the alpacas love them. 

We sure hope you are making plans to stop by and see us.

Pictures from Farm Tour

Here are some photos from Farm Tour:

cutting pictures

Alpaca project

There were alpaca pictures to cut out and create collages.


Showing off his tattoo

There were tattoos for the boys…



and the girls.


Spinning yarn

And spinners were spinning yarn and explaining the process to the guests.  We also had a lunch stand by a local 4-H group, shopping and treats for guests to feed to the alpacas. 

Thanks to everyone who visited.  We look forward to seeing you all again. 

On Monday, the day after Farm Tour, we had a group of about 35 people from a home-school co-op visit. 


Home-school group

They learned about alpacas, and then got to feed the alpacas some treats.

A day spent dyeing

I really lucked out this week.  I wanted to get some dyeing done.  It rained on Sunday, so I held out for Monday.  It was beautiful.  I wound 4+ cones of yarn into skeins.  One cone was lace weight.  The others were the remainder of my sportweight.  The afternoon was spent over the dye pots.  It was cool enough to be comfortable, but not so cold the propane burners had to work over time to keep my pots hot!   By Monday night, I had my drying rack filled.  And a good thing that was.  It has been raining, cloudy and/or windy since.


Lace yarn

Above are 4 skeins of 4 oz each of 100% alpaca lace weight yarn.  A lot of yardage on these darlings!  


Multi-colored skeins

Here are 2 skeins of 3 different variegated color schemes.  I’m looking forward to re-winding these to get an idea of how they will turn out when knit.


More variegated

I have 2 skeins of the red/green/black and 3 skeins of each of the others.  See any you like?  All these are 6 oz skeins of 100% alpaca in sportweight.


For me

These are the ends of the cones.  When there will not be enough for a nice 6 oz skein, I usually wind up a big skein of yarn somewhere between 7 and 11 ounces.  These go into my pile to use for knitting mittens, scarves, headbands, etc.  And that is where the above yarn will go. 

Besides the yarn, I’ve been knitting mittens to be felted and adding more colors of wrist warmers to my inventory.  This weekend is FARM TOUR!!!!  I can hardly believe it is nearly here.   I’m very excited about all the new things we will have here.  I hope you are all planning to stop by.  Saturday and Sunday, 10 AM – 5 PM. 

And a teaser for those waiting for more bulky yarn.  My order is finished.  I plan to go Rach-Al-Paca’s early next week to pick it up.  Then there will be more dyeing in the works!

Watch the video!

The video of our farm that was shot here on Sunday of Farm Tour is now ready for public viewing on YouTube.  It was shot by a student from a local college.  I think she did a great job.   Let me know what you think of it!

Looks who’s on the front page

Our local newspaper reporter came out to Farm Tour and we were most pleased to see our alpacas on the front page of the Oct 3 edition of the Sherburne County Citizen.   It is a very well written article.  Kathe even made the printed version as she was spinning, but that photo didn’t make the online version.    Thanks, Citizen, for the article!

Report on Farm Tour

We had an awesome Farm Tour.  Saturday was a steady stream of visitors.  The kids colored pictures, made fiber projects and fed the alpacas all the dandelions leaves that we had picked.  The sales in my store were really hopping too.  My only regret — I took no, none, ZERO pictures!  I even had my camera in the barn, but never took a picture, never asked anyone else to take some pictures.   So if you weren’t here, you’ll have to imagine the fun and plan to come next year. 

Sunday was much slower.  We were competing with gorgeous weather and a Viking game!  But we still had visitors most of the day.   A video production student from a local college was here shooting some footage for a class project.  I’m hoping to be able to show that to you someday soon.  She has the knowledge to put the video on YouTube. 

The best moment of the entire weekend came from a little boy – maybe 5 or 6 years old.   My brother-in-law was putting tattoos on any willing visitor on Sunday.  After the Vikings game was over, we had a big group of Vikings fans come over.  Two families came together, most were wearing Vikings’ shirts.   This little boy had a shirt with HARVIN printed across the back – the typical sports team shirt.  My bro-in-law said ‘Hey Harvin, would you like a tattoo?’   This little kid looked at my bro-in-law with the funniest expression and said ‘I’m just a little kid.’ 

For the first time, we had a 4-H club serving refreshments and selling pumpkins which could be deorated with colored Sharpie markers.  I think the 4-Hers felt it was a good fund raiser for them.  I know the work crew here ate lots of sloppy-joes and cookies over the course of the two days! 

If you didn’t get to an alpaca farm somewhere across the country over the weekend, put the date on your calendar for next year – September 24 – 25, 2011.   We’re already thinking of new things to try for next year!

Yarn is ready

Yesterday was so drizzly and dreary, that the yarn I dyed on Sunday didn’t dry until last night – and some big skeins are still damp.  But today these are dry and re-skeined.

Yummy varigated

I dyed these for Twisted Suri Alpacas.  2 orange/red, 2 purple, 2 yellow, all have varied shades of their color. 

4 multi-colored

These are also for Twisted Suri.  This is the last of their dyeing job.  Such fun.  And since the dye pots were cooking….

4 for sale

I dyed these for sale.  The 2 on the left are bulky, 100% alpaca, 6 oz, 110 yds.  The 2 on the right are sport weight, 100% alpaca (do I need to say that?), 6 oz, 330 yds.  $27 each.   Let me know if you can’t resist.  They are going on the rack for farm tour!

OH – FARM TOUR!!!   Yes, it is only days away.  This Saturday and Sunday, Sept 25-26, 10 AM – 5 PM each day.  There will be fiber projects and tattoos for kids, spinning demos, all my alpaca products for sale, treats to feed the alpacas.  And new this year, a local 4-H club is selling pumpkins to decorate and they will have a lunch stand.  There are farms across the nation participating, but we hope you can visit us.  If not this weekend, then another time.  Or you can visit the Upper Midwest Alpaca site to find a farm in the 5-state area.

Miscellaneous goings on!

Seems I’ve been running in many directions these days, so here’s a recap.

1)  I had a  great time at the Little Falls craft show.  Perfect weather, good traffic in our office turned into store, even some return customers from last. 

2)  The garden keeps producing.  Here are some peppers I stuffed and have ready to freeze. 

Ready to freeze

3)  Tomorrow, Sept 17, I’ll be spinning at Pioneer Days in Albany.  There are lots of school kids who come to visit to see what it was like in the ‘old days’.

4)  I finished this new cowl / scarf.  My own pattern (I should write it down!  I might want to make another!), 100% alpaca, bulky yarn that I dyed. 

Purple cowl / scarf

5)  On Saturday, Sept 18, we’ll be Zimmerman at Art Reflections for the Krazy Dazecelebration.  We’re bringing our alpacas Sonny and Rolly.  I’ll be spinning and will have lots of alpaca things for sale. 

6)  Rugs and stadium seats are in!  We pooled our fiber with the fiber of Twisted Suri Alpacas and had awesome rugs made. 

3 ft x 5 ft, $150

Lots of colors and designs.

2 ft x 3 ft, $75

I’ll have them all to see at Farm Tour, Sept 25 – 26.

Butt Warmers, $20

Also make great place mats.

7)  Yes, Farm Tour is barely over a week away! 

Please come to see us at an upcoming event.  They are posted on our Events Page and I also try to get them on our FaceBook fan page.