What I Did With This Year’s Alpaca Fiber

There are many options when it comes to processing alpaca fiber into a value added product.  Finding a fiber mill that will help you evaluate and determine the best use of your fiber is very helpful.  Morning Star Fiber Mill, an artisan fiber mill in North Carolina, offers custom processing and did our processing for us this year.  I brought our fiber to the Great Lakes Fiber Festival in Wooster, Ohio for pick up, which was very convenient, and I had my product back in less than a month’s time.

Alpaca Roving - Medium Fawn  Alpaca Roving - Bay Black

Two of our huacaya girls, Annalise and Amelia, have been at our farm just a year.  Morning Star has a six pound minimum per color for processing into yarn and I did not have that much fiber from these two girls, so I had their fiber made into roving for spinning.  It is super soft and lovely, and I can’t wait to spin some of it!

Alpaca Yarn - White Mocha

I had been saving fiber from Sunshine and Sunscape, mother and daughter, for several years so I did have enough of their fiber to have yarn made.  I didn’t want just solid colors, so gave “artistic license” to JC Christiansen, owner at Morning Star, and said he should “play”.  He ran Sunshine’s white fiber and Sunscape’s brown fiber side by side at the carder to produce the yarn above.  I am calling it “White Mocha” even though it looks rather silver grey.

Alpaca Yarn - White Mocha Closeup

I decided on a two-ply worsted weight, a less rounded yarn with a nice “squish factor”.

Alpaca Yarn - Cappuccino

I’m calling this yarn “Cappuccino“.  It is a result of more of Sunshine’s white fiber run side by side with medium fawn, from an alpaca named “Brawny”.  For the last few years I have bought fiber from a local 4-H girl, so the remainder of the yarn was made from her fiber.

Alpaca Yarn - Milk Chocolate

The colors used in this yarn are white, and a white and medium fawn mixed to make a medium rose grey, fed side by side at the carder to produce a color I’ve called “Milk Chocolate“.

Alpaca Yarn - Dark Chocolate

This yarn called “Dark Chocolate” is medium fawn and dark fawn, fed side by side at the carder.

Suri Alpaca Roving - White

I had several years’ worth of suri seconds, so had roving made from the light colored colors, see Suri Alpaca Roving.  I have been dyeing this roving and have had lovely results, be sure to see Circus Time and Summer Delight.  Check back for a post on dyeing roving if you’d like to try this yourself, or try out one of our Roving Dyeing Kits!

Suri Alpaca Roving - Mabelle

The brown Suri Alpaca Roving is from Mabelle’s fiber.

Suri Fiber - Natural Colors Suri Fiber - Hand Dyed

I have a market for selling raw Suri Fiber to spinners, and the longer length suri fiber to doll makers.  I sell both natural colors and hand-dyed fiber, so that is what I will do with my prime suri fiber this year.  This involves skirting, tumbling, washing, dyeing, and packaging, more labor for me but less expense.  Who knows what I’ll do with our fiber next year.  I love that there are so many options.  Keeping products unique and marketable is a fun challenge!

See products made from our fiber in past years. More coming soon on how to evaluate your fiber.

Suri Alpaca Merino Lopi Lite Yarn
Mother Daughter Suri Alpaca Yarn

How to Wet Felt Flowers

A friend asked me to teach a Wet Felting Flower Class. Having never taught this particular felting project before, I thought I better figure out how. What I found is that it is simple, fun, and the flowers come out beautiful!

Here is what you need:

Wet Felting Supplies

Boot Tray (provides a textured surface to aid in the felting process and contain the water) or Towel – to work on
Towel – to dry your hands (dry fiber is sure to stick to wet hands) and roll your flower in when finished
Roving – I use alpaca because that’s what I have, or sometimes an alpaca/wool blend
Other Fiber – small bits of other fibers, scraps from other projects, yarn scraps, thread
Bubble Wrap – two small pieces, about 12″ x 12″
Liquid Soap – I like Dawn but whatever you have will work (if you have skin sensitivities, stay away from anti-bacterial soap)
Hot Water
Sponge (optional) – nice for sopping up extra water on mat
Pool Noodle
Something to Wet Fiber With – empty spray bottle, turkey baster, soup ladle, ball brauser sprinkler, or sponge

Wet Felting Flowers Tutorial

Lay a piece of bubble wrap, bubble side down, on the towel or boot mat. Draft (or pull apart) small pieces of your main color of roving. Do not cut the roving. Thin wispy fibers will felt much better than blunt, cut edges.

Wet Felting Supplies

Lay the roving pieces in a round shape overlapping in the center.

Wet Felting Supplies

Add other bits of color as desired. If using yarn, Suri Locks, or thick pieces of fiber, be sure to lay a very thin piece of roving on top to “scotch tape” these thicker fibers in place, or they will not felt.

Wet Felting Supplies

Add a squirt or two of soap to the hot water. Now wet your fiber with the hot, soapy water. My absolute favorite felting tool for wetting the fiber is a ball brauser sprinkler (a tool used to water bonsai plants), but a spray bottle, turkey baster, soup ladle, sponge, or cup will also work to get water to your fiber.

Wet Felting Flowers Tutorial

If using a ball brauser sprinkler, squeeze the bulb before putting it in the water, drop it into the soapy water, release the bulb, and it fills itself.

IMG_0615 (480x640)

Thoroughly wet the fiber. Lay the second piece of bubble wrap on top of the fiber and press.

Wet Felting Flowers Tutorial

Gently push down on the fiber moving your hands all over pressing the water through the layers of fiber.  You don’t want the fiber to be sopping wet but do make sure the water completely penetrates the fibers.

Wet Felting Flowers Tutorial

Carefully peel back the bubble wrap to check and see that the fiber is thoroughly wet. If not, add more soapy water. Put the bubble wrap back and rub with your hands for five minutes or so.

Wet Felting Flowers Tutorial

Peel back the bubble wrap again, your fiber should be starting to hold together.

Wet Felting Flowers Tutorial

Now, roll up the bubble wrap and fiber.  Wrapping the bubble wrap and fiber around a pool noodle works well too.

Wet Felting Flower Class

Whether using a pool noodle or not, wrap the layers of bubble wrap and fiber snug, and tie in several places with yarn, string, or rubber bands to hold in place.

Wet Felting Flowers Tutorial
Sop up excess water with a sponge, or pour off into a bucket or sink.

Wet Felting Flowers Tutorial
Begin rolling the pool noodle back and forth about 50 times.

Wet Felting Flowers Tutorial
Unroll. Adjust fiber as needed. Wet any dry areas. Turn 90 degrees, roll layers, tie, roll 50 times. Do this a total of four times, turning your piece 90 degrees each time.

Wet Felting Flowers Tutorial

When your flower passes the “pinch test”, you are done. Pinch the fibers between two fingers, there should be no movement! If they still appear a loose, add a little more hot soapy water and continue rolling for a while longer. Repeat the “pinch test”.  If more felting is needed, you can also rub the flower on the boot mat.

IMG_0702 (480x640)

Unroll bubble wrap and fiber.  Warm up your flower with some very hot water.

Wet Felting Flowers Tutorial

Wad up fiber and throw it against the boot mat, in a bucket, or in your kitchen sink about 25 times.  Yes throw it!  This causes the fibers to shrink and harden a bit.

IMG_0733 (480x640)

Open up your flower, stretch the edges sideways.  This will help ruffle your edges, (of the flower that is).  Throw against your mat again about 25 times.  Pull on the fiber to create petals, if desired, or cut petals.  If cutting, rub on a textured surface just a little to soften the edges.

Rinse in a vinegar water solution, and then in plain water until the soap has been rinsed out.  Roll in a towel to absorb excess moisture.

Wet Felting Flowers Tutorial

Grab the center of your flower from the back and scrunch it up towards the center.  Use a twist tie or piece of yarn to tie the center.  Shape your flower the way you would like it to look. Allow your flower to dry this way.  I have read where people dry their flowers in egg cartons to help maintain the shape.  I have also used the umbrella hole in my rod iron table.  Your flower will dry quickly outside on a sunny day, or near a fan inside, or close to a heat vent in the winter.

Wet Felting Flowers Tutorial Wet Felting Flowers Tutorial

When dry you could needle felt a center, sew on a button or beads, or leave as is.  Leave the yarn you have tied the flower with in place to give dimension to your flower, or remove it, scrunch up your flower towards the middle again and needle felt around the base for the same effect.

Wet Felting Flowers Tutorial

Just like in nature, there are many kinds of flowers when it comes to felting, along with various techniques.  Be creative, and have fun felting!

Felted Bouquet Wet Felting Kit

Felted Bouquet Wet Felting Kit

This is a kit available through our Online Store or in The Fiber Studio at Alpaca Meadows.  Click on the link or the image above to see videos for wet felting some basic flowers.  Click my board on Pinterest called Felted Flowers to see some favorites from other fiber artists.  You will find a few tutorials there too!

Live nearby?  Get a group together and come take my Wet Felting Fancy Flower Class!

Be sure to check out Knitting and Crocheting Flowers for more flower fun!

 

 

Free Crochet Pattern – Crescent Shawl

I love, love, love the new yarn called Mariquita from The Alpaca Yarn Company.  If you liked the Astral Yarn in all its beautiful colors, you will like this one too.  It has 50% tencel which is what gives it the lovely sheen like the Astral, and it is blended with 50% baby alpaca!  This Crescent Shawl, pattern by Julie Aakjaer, was perfect for the Mariquita, our new fingering weight yarn.  I used a smaller size hook than what the pattern calls for, which created a very lacy look that I think is very pretty with this yarn.

Crescent Shawl

 

HOOK

I used a 3.5 mm (E)

MATERIALS

One Skein Mariquita Yarn, the color I used is called Winter Wheat

FINISHED MEASUREMENTS

I crocheted 50 rows, and ended up with a shawl that measures roughly 52 inches wide / 132.1 cm long and is 19 inches/ 48.3 cm long at the widest point.  Lovely use of the Mariquita yarn!

NOTES

The size of the shawl depends on the number of rows you crochet. Suggestions are given on the pattern for sizes from young child to adult size large, with approximate yarn requirements and recommended hook size given for each.

Sign In | Favorites Shopping Bag (0) Crescent Shawl

CH – chain
SC- single crochet
HDC  – half double crochet
DC – double crochet
PIC – picots
TOG- together
SP – space

DIRECTIONS

Click Spring Crescent Shawl Crochet Pattern!

 

Crescent Shawl

 

 

Flowers, Flowers, Flowers

I love hats with flowers, maybe not on me, but a flower just sets off a hat, makes it so much more stylish!  I love flowers, and it is Spring, so thought I would share my Flowers, Flowers, Flowers Pinterest Board.  On it you will find crocheted, knitted, fiber, and felted flowers, some with instructions and some just for inspiration!  Be sure to check out our Classic Alpaca Yarn for many, many pretty colors of 100% alpaca yarn for flower making, and my favorite patterns for Knitting and Crocheting Flowers!

Follow Alpaca Meadows’s board Flowers, Flowers, Flowers on Pinterest.

There are also many FREE flower patterns for knit and crochet, or perhaps you can create your own!  Some of the flowers shown are knit, then felted by throwing them in the washing machine and dryer.  Some have been cut out of felt, others needle felted.  Our Bloomin’ Brites Needle Felted Flowers Kit uses a combination of both cutting flowers from felt and needle felting fiber onto them.

Our Felted Bouquet Kit uses another felting technique called wet felting. Check out How to Make Wet Felted Flowers!

Happy Spring!

 

Felted Rabbits and Bunnies

In preparation to teach another Bunny Felting Class, I thought I would gather pictures of some of my favorite bunnies.  Pinterest was a great place to do that!  Felted rabbits really do come in all different shapes and sizes, some that are very simple designs that would be great for a beginning felter.  Those that have some experience with felting might want to tackle a bunny with more detail, perhaps even with bunny clothes and accessories!

Follow Alpaca Meadows’s board Felted Rabbits on Pinterest.

When it comes to needle felting, there is more than one way to felt a bunny. The following are some tutorials to help you to decide what your preference might be.

Mama Bunny and Three Bunnies Felting Tutorial
DIY Cute Wool Rabbit
Needle Felting a Bunny: A Photo Tutorial
How to Make a Cute Needle Felted Bunny for Easter

Though I don’t have a Bunny Felting Kit available yet, the House Mouse Kit or Needle Felt an Animal Friend Kit both come with instructional DVD’s to help you learn three dimensional felting.

House Mouse Felting Kit

House Mouse Kit

Needle Felt An Animal Friend Kit

Needle Felt An Animal Friend Kit

If you don’t live too far away, and would like to learn how to needle felt a bunny in The Fiber Studio at Alpaca Meadows, click Bunny Felting Class.  Organize a group of friends to come do a class with you, or join a class already scheduled!

 

Free Crochet Pattern – Two Tone Mitts

I love these fun two-tone gloves, each glove with colors opposite from the other.  The pattern is by Pollyfoofoo and her website is pollyfoofoo.blogspot.com.  Her pattern calls for a bulky yarn, but I’ve chosen our Astral Yarn, a dk weight yarn, which comes in some gorgeous colors.  I think you could mix-n-match almost any two colors of this Alpaca/Merino/Tencel blend yarn and be pleased with the combination.

astral-fingerless-gloves2

Stitches Used:

SC- single crochet
SC BLO – single crochet back loop only
SC FLO – single crochet front loop only
HDC BLO – half double crochet back loop only
HDC 3rd LIF – half double crochet through 3rd Loop In Front
DC – double crochet
TR – treble crochet

Astral Two Tone Fingerless Gloves

HOOK

4.0 mm (G)

MATERIALS

Astral Yarn – 1 skein of two colors, approximately 191 total yards

Yarn Colors – 1st Picture:
Copper Penny, Aries

Yarn Colors – 2nd Picture:
Gold Rush, Virgo

Yarn Colors – 3rd Picture:
Aries, Pavo

NOTES

The arm is worked first, then you turn your work ¼ turn clockwise to work the hand. The thumb is created by skipping stitches and making a chain as a bridge over those stitches. These mitts are worked flat and seamed when finishing.

Do not skip the first stitch of the row when doing HDC. Treat it like a SC, to keep edges tidy and less holey. Even though you will be seaming the edges, it’s not a place you want holes.

Ch1 for turning chain on HDC.

The last stitch of every row is worked as you normally would (under both loops/legs). This keeps your edges tidy and less holey.

The stitches for the arm are SC but worked in BLO and FLO. The hand portion is mostly HDC, but worked in either the BLO or through the 3rd loop in the front (LIF).

FINISHED MEASUREMENTS

 

Astral Two Tone Fingerless Gloves

DIRECTIONS

ARM:

Foundation Row: Chain 25 (or if you do chainless foundations, FSC 24, turn and go to Row 1).  Starting in the second chain of your hook, SC 24 stitches turn.

Row 1 (RS): – ch 1, SC BLO 23, regular SC in last st, turn (24)

Row 2 (WS): – ch 1, SC FLO 23, regular SC in last st, turn (24)

Repeat Rows 1 and 2 until you have 25 rows. (End with a RS row)

For gloves bigger or smaller than pattern, you can make adjustments by making more or fewer rows, but please note that you will also have to make adjustments when time to do the hand portion by making more or fewer stitches.

HAND:

If you are going to make your hand with a different color, cut your arm yarn now, leaving an 18 inch tail for seaming later. If all one color, don’t cut.

With RS facing, turn work ¼ turn clockwise and attach new yarn color in the upper right hand stitch.  Work 27 HDC evenly into this edge, turn.

Row 1 (WS): – ch 1, not skipping the first stitch, work HDC into the 3rd LIF for 26 sts, and work the last HDC as normal, turn. (27)

Row 2 (RS):((thumbhole row)) ch 1, HDC BLO 8, DC 1, Tr 1, make a chain of 6, skip the 6 sts under them, Tr 1, DC 1, HDC BLO 8, HDC last st, turn. (27)

Row 3 (WS): – ch 1, not skipping the first stitch, work HDC into the 3rd LIF 11 sts, HDC into the back bump of each ch st (6), HDC into the 3rd LIF 9 sts,  and work the last HDC as normal, turn. (27)

Row 4 (RS): – ch 1, not skipping the first stitch, work HDC BLO 26 sts, and work the last HDC as normal, turn. (27)

Row 5 (WS): – work as Row 1

Row 6 (RS): – work as Row 4

Repeat rows 5 and 6 until hand portion reaches 2 inches tall and ending on a RS row. Cut yarn, leaving a tail to seam with. Give yourself 24 inches or so tail to seam with if you used 1 color for your mitts. If you did hand in different color you only need 10 inches or so to seam it, and then you’ll pick up your other color tail to seam the arm portion.

Before you do your seam, however, weave in your ends. It’s just easier that way.

SEAMING:

Then, fold WS together. Using clips/locking stitch markers to line up the stitches and hold your work together while you seam is a good idea, removing as you approach them. Use them as checkpoints to make sure you are seaming equally so your mitt seams won’t be lopsided. A mattress stitch works quite nicely.

Weave in your seaming yarn tail ends.

Astral Two Tone Mitts

To print pattern, click Two Tone Astral Mitts Crochet Pattern.

Alpacas in Winter

Alpaca fiber is oh, so, so warm and socks, hats, scarves, gloves, and sweaters made from alpaca, are the best!  Alpacas have their fiber to keep them warm, and honestly they mind the heat much more than the cold. However, there are times and conditions when our alpacas appreciate a little help keeping warm.

Alpacas in Winter

Our rule of thumb is that we close the alpacas in the barn, when we hit single digit temperatures.  Even alpacas appreciate being able to get out of cold, harsh winds and pelting rain or snow.  We line the inside walls of their shelter with bales of straw, stacked three or four high, to cut down on the drafts as well as have handy for layering on top of the manure.  Other than the cold and the snow, alpaca care is actually a little easier in the winter because we don’t clean up the manure in the barn.  Rather we spread straw on top of the manure.  Heat is generated from the lower layers of composting manure and straw.

Alpacas in Winter

Feed ahead of the weather.  In winter, we always have plenty of hay available and when it is cold, our alpacas easily eat twice as much.  They seem to know when a change in the weather is coming.

Alpacas in Winter

Older alpacas and little ones can have trouble staying warm.  There actually is Winter Wear which can help immensely especially if an alpaca is sick or compromised in some way.

Alpacas in Winter

Below are some tips written by Ben Fisco of Humminghill Suri Alpaca Farm on “Raising Alpacas in Harsh Winter Climates”.  Read the entire article here.

  1. Breed for spring and autumn births.
  2. Use layered, thick, dry bedding in sheds and barn.
  3. Bring alpacas inside in extreme cold and when they are wet dry them off before sending them back to the pasture.
  4. Use a flame and fan-free heating system when heat is used.
  5. Avoid drafts.
  6. Provide good drainage.
  7. Provide good ventilation and air circulation in all barns year round.
  8. Clear pastures of snow in areas large enough to provide exercise.
  9. For cria hypothermia, place cria in a plastic water-tight bag in warm water up to, but not including, the head.
  10. Use heated water buckets.
  11. Use cria coats and coats for adults when you see them shiver.  Use common sense.
  12. Feed large volumes of high quality hay in cold weather.

Alpacas in Winter

Several other helpful articles:

Can It Get Any Colder?
Suris in Winter – Dispelling a Myth
Tips On Raising Suris in Cold Weather

Free Crochet Pattern – Jessica Scarflette

This Jessica Scarflette crochet pattern is by Jessica Dassing of Chick-a-Pea Studio.  Any weight yarn will work using the appropriate hook, as there is no fit to this scarflette.

Jessica Scarflette Crocheted with Swizzle Alpaca Yarn

I used one of our Swizzle Yarns, a DK weight, and 100% alpaca.  The color is called Punk Rock Princess, now isn’t that a fun name?

Jessica Scarlette with Swizzle Alpaca Yarn

HOOK

4.0 mm (G)

MATERIALS

276 Yards or 1.3 skeins of Swizzle Yarn, enough left for another small project

NOTE

Button holes are not necessary since there are openings created by this crochet stitch. When picking out buttons, test out how they fit with your project; button size will vary with gauge and yarn choice.

FINISHED MEASUREMENTS

This alpaca scarflette measures roughly 9 inches/ 23 cm wide and 39 inches/ 101 cm long.

Jessica Scarlette with Swizzle Alpaca Yarn

DIRECTIONS

Chain 28 stitches.  These include the extra 3 chains at the start of Row 1.  These chains will allow your double crochet stitches to stand up straight.

Row 1: 5dc in 4th chain from hook, *skip 2 chains, single crochet into next chain, skip 2 chains, 5 double-crochet into next chain*.  Repeat between**s until 3 chains remain. End row 1 with 3 double crochets in last chain.  Turn work.

Row 2: Chain one,*5 double-crochets into single crochet from previous row, single crochet into middle stitch of shell from previous row*. Repeat between**s until last shell, 3 double-crochet into top of chain 3.  Turn work.

Rows 3-66:  Repeat rows 1 & 2 until desired length.  Weave in ends.  Sew on buttons along one side.

Optional Edging:  Continue around the outside border of the scarflette adding shell pattern over and over again, making twice as many double crochets to round the corner stitch.
.

Jessica Scarlette with Swizzle Alpaca Yarn

To print pattern, click Jessica Scarflette Crochet Pattern.  Click here to see a number of ways this scarflette can be worn, and other yarns used for this project.

The New Encyclopedia of Crochet Techniques The New Encyclopedia of Crochet Techniques Crochet-opedia

Fiber Processing Flow Chart

MILL MOVIE

There are many steps involved in processing fiber as can be seen in the chart below.  For a virtual tour inside a fiber mill, click 84 Alpacas Fiber Mill.

Fiber Processing Flow Chart

 

FIBER PROCESSING

FIBER COOPERATIVES

ALPACA FIBER EXCHANGE PROGRAMS

COMMERCIAL USER

Needle Felting Ornament Kits and Videos

Needle felting has taken off in our area.  Even those who don’t think they have the skills required or aren’t creative, have been enjoying felting classes in The Fiber Studio here at the farm, and going home with projects they are pleased with.  There is no need to have to pay attention to a pattern, such as with knitting or crocheting, so felting is a fun craft to do with a group of friends or in the evening while watching TV.

Needle Felting Ornament Kits

Just in are some new felting kits!  Among them are a variety of felted ornament kits, with instructional videos to follow.  Keep scrolling to see the videos.  Click on the images below if you’d like to order the kit.

     

Happy felting!

Be sure to check out the pictures from some of our felting classes!



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