Tag Archives: spinning

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.


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


shawl after blocking

After blocking


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!


But does it spin?

The proof is in the pudding, as they say, so dyeing roving is only successful if yarn can be spun from said roving! 

And so I took the roving I dyed in my first and second dyeing sessions and set about spinning it.  I was able to gently pull the roving to unchain the finger chains I  made before dyeing. 

Single ply on the bobbin

Single ply on the bobbin

And it spun up into a colorful single.  I just spun one chain after the other until all were done.  On the right end of the bobbin is the chain that had the mixed dyed on the underside, resulting in brown dyed roving.  But once spun, it just appears as a darker version of the colors.  I think I prefer it to the lighter colored yarn.

single ply ball

Singles in a ball

I then wound the single ply into a ball to ply it from the center pull ball.

2-ply yarn

2-ply yarn

If I were a better spinner and had spun a much finer single, it would have been fun to see this navaho-plied.  But even as a traditional 2-ply yarn, I rather like it.

skein of yarn

Skein of yarn

The resulting yarn is very squishy and so far I’ve just been petting it and holding it.  I think I will keep it to show the dyeing results.

I gave a chain to Mary of Spinning Magic so she could spin it on a spindle.

single ply


Here is her single ply yarn on her Turkish Spindle.

2-ply yarn


And Mary’s after plying.


Finished yarn

This is the finished yarn spun on a spindle.  I have not seen this yarn in person yet, but it looks to have spun up with ease too. 

I’m so happy with my dyeing attempts and the resulting yarn.  I’m looking forward to spending some quality time with my roaster and dyeing more roving!

Cria pictures

Technically, they are now weanlings, but they are still my babies!  Nearly a week ago, the four crias born in 2012 spent their first night separated from their mothers!  They are doing fine, but still cry after evening chores when they don’t get to go back with their moms!  Normally, the mothers would wean the crias themselves, but since I didn’t re-breed them, they have less interest in weaning. 

I’m already thinking about shearing and took some pictures of the crias who be shorn for the first time this spring.  I created a poster of these pictures to put in the Anoka Fiber Arts Co-op to give spinners a chance to snag one of these fleeces come shearing day.  Here is your chance!

This was the first born:

brown alpaca



This is Francine.  Her fiber is lovely.  Warm dark brown.  But this photo is just to tempt you.  Her fleece is already spoken for! 

Up next:

white alpaca


Max has shiny white fiber.  It is quite fine and by spring will have a really long staple.  Either left white or dyed, this would spin into wonderful yarn. 

Number 3:

fawn cria


Stellar’s fiber has a nice crimp and is a little darker than Johnny’s.   This will be a nice fleece for spinning, too.

And our last:

fawn cria

Johnny B

Johnny B has the best fiber of the four crias.  It is very crimpy and an even light fawn in color.  His fiber seems to be quite dense, so should shear a good amount of fiber despite being smaller than the others.

And there they are.  My babies are growing up!  If you are interested in reserving one of the boys’ fleeces, just let me know.  We’ll be shearing the end of April.

The Special Hat – Step 4

So far I’ve washed, carded and spun my black alpaca fiber.  Step 4 of the process to make this hat is to ply the singles I’ve spun and set the twist.

spinning wheel

Ready to ply

This is view from above my spinning wheel looking down.  The two bobbins that I have just spun are sitting on long pins on the right (you can see the ends through the tops of the bobbins).  They will turn freely as I spin those two single ply yarns into a 2-ply yarn which will get wound onto the bobbin at the top of my wheel.   I have a bit of brown yarn on the bobbin, but I will just put the black over it. 

new yarn

Yarn completed

It was getting dark outside, so I had little natural light for this photo, but wanted to show this step.  The bobbin on the left is the 2-ply yarn.  The center bobbin shows the amount that was left on one of the bobbins of singles when all the other bobbin’s yarn had been used up.  Not too bad! 

yarn on niddy noddy

Onto the niddy noddy


Then I wrap the yarn around my niddy noddy.   This allows the yarn to be wrapped into a big hank that takes up a relatively small amount of space.  I made this niddy noddy of PVC pipe, so once I have the yarn on there, I just hold it under water to dampen the yarn and then let it drip and dry in a bath tub.  This will do to the yarn what blocking does to a knitted piece – it sets the twist in the yarn so it will stay the way it dries. 

skein of yarn

Big loop of yarn

This big loop of yarn came off the niddy noddy once it was dry.

ball of yarn

Ready to knit

Then it gets wound into a ball.  Next…. swatching and knitting. 

Just a couple more craft shows left for the season.   Dec 1 at Oak View Elementary in Maple Grove, MN and Dec 8 at the United Methodist Church in Zimmerman, MN.  Then I plan to have store hours here at the farm until Christmas.

Step 3 of my Special Project

This is the next step in the hat I’m making for the member of our family who is going through chemo treatments and has lost his hair. 

Step 3 is to spin the fiber I carded in Step 2.  But first, I need to empty two bobbins. 

yarn wound off bobbins

2 empty bobbins

I wound the yarn from 2 bobbins into balls to be used later.  Now I have the bobbins I will need to spin the black fiber into singles.

black fiber

Divided in half

I use my scale to divide the fiber into 2 equal amounts.  Each bag of fiber will be spun onto a bobbin as a single-ply yarn.  My goal is have the same yardage of yarn on each bobbin.  That will require me to spin the same thickness of yarn on each bobbin. 

spinning wheel

Ready to go

Yes, those are my bright magenta knees before my spinning wheel.  I wear a pair of very slick nylon jogging pants when spinning fine alpaca fiber from batts.  The fiber does not stick to the slick fabric, which helps the spinning process.

tiny fiber bits

Fiber bits

Each bag of fiber is a bit over 3 ounces and took about 3 hours to spin.  After completing the first bag, I had a bunch of tiny second cuts which I pulled from the fiber as I was spinning. 

2 bobbins of yarn

Bobbins complete

After a second spinning session, I had spun all the fiber onto these 2 bobbins. 

Step 4 will be to ply the singles and set the twist. 



My new space!

Yesterday I moved into my new space!  Here is the before:

blank wall

4.5 feet of blankness

I have started renting a small space in the Loft at Shepherd’s Choice in Anoka, MN.  A bunch of fiber people have taken over the loft and filled it with fibery fun.

wall of socks

Socks and yarn

My back wall is pegboard, so I hung a bunch of my alpaca socks and some yarn.  As I get new yarn dyed, more will be added. 

socks, yarn, roving

My whole space

I’ve also got some wrist warmers, a basket of alpaca roving and one of my sweater dryers.  The sweater dryer is for sale but does double duty as a little table to show off a bowl of cat toys.  I’ll also be putting in some hours working at the shop.   I’ll post my hours on my facebook page – if you would like to see something specific or have me bring in an order for you, please contact me.  Let’s save driving and shipping costs!  There are lots of wonderous goodies in the Loft.

spinning wheels

Wheels and braids

Mary of Spinning Magic has a lovely collections of wheels and other spinning goodies for sale.  She is also available most days to give priviate spinning lessons.  There is lots of sheepy wool ready for spinning, too.

felting and stuff

Lots of stuff to check out

From felting to bags to lots of fun, fibery things to discover, you’re sure to find something to delight you in the Loft at Shepherd’s Choice.  I hope you make plans to check it out soon.  I’m looking forward to seeing you there.

More for me, me, just me!

A very long time ago – probably a year or 2 ago – I started spinning Rosita‘s last fleece.  It is so soft and wonderfully crimpy and spins into to great squishy yarn.  I finished this huge bobbin of plyed yarn way back then.

yarn and swatch
A long time ago

I spun it with a project in mind.  This is the first time I’ve tried going in that direction.  I usually spin and then choose the project for the resulting yarn.   I hadn’t thought my spinning ability was up to matching a yarn in my mind.  I’m still not sure it is, but I’m going to try this.  Last summer or fall, I created a swatch.  It seems to be close, but fuzzier, so the lacy look is not quite as pronounced.  So today, I will wind the yarn into a ball and start this:

pattern picture

Just for me

A customer gave me this pattern after I fell in love with one she made from the alpaca yarn she bought from me.  Progress report coming tomorrow! 

Something new

During our church festival on July 4, Betty, a customer and friend showed me her new purchase.

(This image was taken from the Hansen Crafts site.)

This is an electric mini spinning wheel.  It is crazy compact.  The wheel, battery, extra bobbins and fiber all fit into a back pack.  We were sitting under a big canopy, watching the people at the festival, listening to the live music and spinning.  Let me tell you, that was life at its finest!   I was even able to spin a bit on it.  Once we got the speed and take up tension all set for me, it was spinning nirvana. 

While I really love my Louet wheel and it travels reasonably well, a wheel as small as this would be really handy to take places.  And with a battery pack, it can go anywhere.  Or it can plug into regular outlets.  A very nifty wheel.   Check out the Hansen Craft site – the reason this little wheel came to be is a story in itself.  

I’m working on something new.  I can’t wait to show it to you.  It will be soon.

Back to school

This morning, I went back to school.  To an old country school.   A local family does a 3-day “Life in the Past Lane”  experience through Community Education.  They host a bunch of kids in an old country school.  Teaching ‘old time’ lessons, singing traditional songs and giving the kids a glimpse into days gone by.

country school

Kids at school

And the kids even dress the part.  Many girls wear dresses and bonnets and there are lots of Laura Ingalls braids.  I’m invited to give a little lesson on carding and spinning. 

teaching spinning

Talking about spinning

I find the old pull-down maps and the chalk board to be in amazing shape and so cool to see.   I even learned something from the gal who was helping with the music – she played an old piano that was at the school.   See the piano behind us in the photo? 

country school teachers

Annie and Teresa

Her name is Annie and she told me about carding wool as a child.   Every summer, her Mother would take the family quilts apart and they would card the wool to fluff it back up after being slept under all winter.   Then the newly fluffed up bundles of wool would go back in the quilts, get stitched in place and be ready to keep the family warm another winter.  What a great way to recycle.   And we think recycling is a new concept!

Discover Alpaca Fiber Day, in review

We had a wonderful full house barn for our Alpaca Fiber Day.  I hope all our guests had a good time and enjoyed learning about alpacas, and spinning alpaca fiber.  As usual, my photography time seems to fly out the window when there are other things to do.  So I have no pictures of spinners or alpacas or the fun we had. 

I would like to thank Roger and Gina of Twisted Suri Alpaca Ranch for hosting.  Roger gave a great barn tour and showed off alpaca fiber while still on the animals.  Gina made a wonderful lunch for everyone.  Thanks to Mary of Spinning Magic for bringing wheels and helping guests try out new wheels.  But mostly, a big thanks to our guests.  Some had quite a drive and a couple added extra miles when they took an unexpected ‘scenic’ route.  We hope everyone had a good time, learned something new alpacas and felt it was worth the trip.   We are planning to make this an annual event, so if anyone has any ideas of suggestions, please leave your comments.