Alpaca Bird Nesting Balls

What is an Alpaca Bird Nesting Ball, you ask? It is a ball made of grapevine stuffed full of alpaca fiber, for the birds to pluck out and carry away to build nests for their young! Alpaca fiber is very soft, and very warm. Can you just imagine what a comfortable nest a mama bird could build for her babies!

The birds really do use this fiber and I frequently find it when cleaning out birdhouses in the Fall.  The grapevine balls are approximately 4″ in diameter and generously filled with 3 ounces or more of alpaca fiber inside, and sticking out of them. Nesting balls hang from a piece of twine, and can be hung on a branch or tied.

Alpaca Bird Nesting Balls make unique gifts for bird loving friends, hard-to-buy-for family members, and gift exchanges. They can also be used as Christmas ornaments. Or enjoy one, two, or three in your own backyard!

Most birds construct nests purely for the purpose of holding their eggs and chicks. However many species will use the nest outside of the nesting season as a place to sleep, so why not help them make it comfortable.  Alpaca Wool: A Great Nesting Material for the Birds shows pictures of birds caught in the act of using this wonderful fiber for their nests.  For other ways to help the birds, you might want to read Top 10 Ways to Help Nesting Birds.  Many birds breed and lay eggs in the spring, but some begin as early as winter, some lay their eggs late in summer, and yet others breed and lay year-round.  Alpaca Bird Nesting Balls can be hung outside year round and even when it rains, the alpaca fiber repels the water and dries quickly, retaining its original softness.  If you feed the birds, consider hanging a nesting ball or two near your feeders.

The alpaca fiber used in our Alpaca Bird Nesting Balls is considered Seconds and Thirds.  The picture of the colorful alpaca above illustrates from what part of the alpaca this fiber comes.  Typically the fiber is shorter, and not as fine as the Prime fiber that can be made into yarn.  At shearing time, each section of fiber from the alpaca is kept separate, to preserve the integrity of the Prime fiber (also called the Blanket) which is the most uniform in length and fineness.  While not all alpaca fiber should be made into yarn, it all can be used for something!

Alpaca Bird Nesting Balls can be used year after year, and can be refilled as the fiber gets used.  Refilling them is just a matter of pushing fiber through the holes of the grapevine ball with a pencil, knitting needle, screwdriver, your finger, or some other pokey thing.

Alpaca Bird Nesting Ball Kits are available if you’d like to make your own!  This is a very simple fiber craft kit, suitable for both children and adults.

 

Liven things up a bit with some colored fiber in your nesting balls!  This fiber has been hand-dyed with our colorfast Gaywool Dyes.  It’s always fun to find colored alpaca fiber in our neighboring bird nests!!

 

Purchase Alpaca Bird Nesting Balls in Fun Colors by clicking here.

Kits available too!

Fiber from both breeds of alpacas in a variety of hand-dyed and natural colors is used in the nesting balls, and comes from the alpacas that we raise on our farm in Mansfield, Ohio. Did you know that there are two breeds of alpacas? One is called a Suri, the other a Huacaya. Find out the Facts about Alpacas.  Suri fiber grows vertical to the alpaca’s body, and huacaya grows horizontal. The Suri is very elegant, the Huacaya is very cute!  That’s the difference.

 

Take a look at more of our Kits here.

 

Crochet Pattern – Faroese Shawl

This wonderful triangular shawl called Faroese Shawl is a traditional design by Cheri McEwen from the Faroe Islands.  Ever heard of this place?  Eighteen mountainous islands form an archipelago that are located half way between Scotland and Iceland in the Northeast Atlantic.  Looks like a beautiful spot, and an interesting fact, it is home to puffins … who knew!  Be sure to click the link for a delightful video.  Anyway, a Faroese shawl is a traditional piece of clothing from the Faroe Islands with the distinguishing feature of these shawls being the lovely center back gusset shaping.

The pattern designer crocheted the shawl in a solid color and it is very pretty (click the link above).   I opted to use two different types of Dk weight yarn and three different colors, in shades of blues and grays and purples.   I happen to really like this color combination, but whether a solid color, or mixing and matching, you can’t go wrong either way!

One of the yarns I used is our Paca Paints yarn, hand painted and 100% alpaca.  The other is an alpaca yarn called Astral that is blended with tencel, which gives the yarn a pretty sheen.

The Paca Paints color is called Moonlight.

The Astral Yarn colors are Virgo and Shooting Star.

 

You’ll need a Size I (5.5mm) crochet hook and about 880 yards total yardage.

 

Stitches Used:

ch = chain

dc = double crochet

yo = yarn over hook

V-st = V-stitch 

2-dc dec = 2 double crochet decrease

3-dc dec = 3 double crochet decrease

sh – shell

lg sh – large shell

 

 

The shawl measures approximately 29 inches from the top to the point of the triangle and 66 inches across the top edge.  For the pattern, click here.

Interested in purchasing the shawl pictured?  Click Faroese Alpaca Shawl.  For other shawl patterns, click here.

How to Needle Felt a Frog

If you’ve been wanting to take a stab at needle felting, a roly poly needle felted frog is a fun beginner’s project.  Frog Needle Felting Kits are available to purchase that have instructions with lots of pictures, all the materials and felting supplies that you’ll need to make this cute little guy.

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Handmade Knit Alpaca Ornaments

We are now selling these adorable knit alpaca ornaments, handmade by a not-for-profit social enterprise called Global Goods Partners.  GGP is is committed to providing sustainable jobs for women, and as stated on their website, they have tapped into the rich well of skill and artistry that is passed from one generation of women to the next.

Hand Knit Alpaca Ornaments

Since GGP first launched in 2005, they have partnered with over 60 artisan groups in more than 20 countries throughout Asia, Africa and the Americas, helping to design and bring to market the fair trade, handcrafted products they produce.  Each artisan earns reliable, fair living wages, and gains experience that can add benefit to all aspects of her life.

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Free Knitting Pattern – Darn Knit Cable Hat

This knit hat is called Darn Knit Cable Hat and the design is by Aimee Pelletier.  Aimee’s grandmother taught her to knit when she was a young girl.  She put her knitting away for many years, and then according to Aimee, her Nan conned her into it again!  She now owns her own yarn shop in Stillwater, Minnesota called Darn Knit Anyway.  To see more of Aimee’s projects on Ravelry, click here.

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Knitting Kit – Forget Not Mitt Kit

Looking for a Spring knitting project?  While cooler seasons are known to be the height of knitting and crocheting, many of us know that knitting and crochet season never really ends.  With warmer temperatures, we might opt not to be covered in super bulky alpaca wool yarn, but rather enjoy lighter yarns and smaller projects.  Today I wanted to share the Forget Not Mitt Knitting Kit with you, along with all the pretty color combinations available.  The pictures below are from Ravelry, and all the fingerless mitts were made using this kit.

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Free Crochet Pattern – Go With the Flow Scarf

I found this pattern on the My Hobby is Crochet website.  It is called Go With the Flow Super Scarf, and can be made as wide and as long as you like.  For this scarf I opted for a DK weight yarn, one from our Classic Alpaca Yarn line, because well,  I just wanted to make something with this yarn!  I love how it turned out!

Here’s the yarn I used.  It is beige, light brown, black, and grey, and is 100% alpaca, so is super soft.

classic baby alpaca yarn

The color is called Chain Maille.  It is one of our Classic Baby Alpaca Tweed yarns, all pretty!

classic baby alpaca yarn chain maille

Using a combination of front and back crossed double crochet stitches, this scarf has wonderful texture and nice drape.

Stitches Used:

ch = chain

sc = single crochet

dc = double crochet

st = stitch

back bump of chains

csdc = chainless starting double crochet

This scarf took three skeins of Classic Alpaca Yarn.  I used a Crochet Hook size H-8 (5mm) and began with 173 chains.  Of course, you’ll need a Yarn Needle for weaving in ends, and pair of Scissors, if you don’t already have those items.  This scarf is worked lengthwise, so your foundation chain will determine how long the scarf will be.  That also means that you will not have to keep turning your work.

Here’s the pattern.

My scarf turned out to be 64″ long (without fringe) and 6″ wide.  It’s long enough it can be wrapped around your neck several times, if desired.  I’ve also made this scarf with a bulky weight yarn called Snuggle, which you can see here.

 

 Interested in purchasing the scarf in this post?  Click here.

 

 

 

Free Knitting and Crochet Pattern – Stormy Sky Shawl

Surely it will be warm weather soon, and thoughts will turn to lighter weight yarn for knitting and crochet projects.  I found this pretty shawl on Ravelry, knit by Lynn Fukutani, using Mariquita Yarn, a Fingering weight yarn, which is a luxurious blend of 50% Baby Alpaca and 50% Tencel.

Mariquita yarn has a subtle shine and a beautiful drape, and is the perfect choice for this lightweight, asymmetrical shawl.

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Alpaca and Llama Face Masks

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has issued an updated set of guidelines on wearing face coverings in public, including homemade face masks as the US struggles to fill a coronavirus-driven demand for more personal protective equipment.  If you love alpacas and llamas, like I do, you might enjoy checking out the alpaca and llama collection of face masks available.  You can click on either the picture, or the link below the picture, to purchase!

Many other designs available too!

I do a small amount of affiliate marketing so if you purchase one of the items in this post, I do receive a small percentage of the sale, and I thank you, especially during these difficult times!

Flock Of Alpacas Pattern Cloth Face Maskcom
Flock Of Alpacas Pattern Cloth Face Maskcom

(A group of alpacas is actually referred to as a herd.)

Bright Colorful Alpaca Pattern Cloth Face Maskcom
Bright Colorful Alpaca Pattern Cloth Face Maskcom

Alpaca Maskcom
Alpaca Maskcom

There’s no strong evidence that homemade masks and face coverings can keep you from acquiring the coronavirus, but there are some benefits.

Alpaca Cacti Pattern Cloth Face Maskcom
Alpaca Cacti Pattern Cloth Face Maskcom

Wearing a homemade face mask may block large particles ejected from sneezing and coughing.  They might help protect others from your sneezes and coughs if you acquired the virus but are otherwise asymptomatic and in public.  Face masks could encourage more mindful behavior, including avoiding touching one’s mouth, nose and eyes.  Last but not least, wearing a handmade face mask can give peace of mind.

Cute Alpacas Pattern Cloth Face Maskcom
Cute Alpacas Pattern Cloth Face Maskcom

Homemade face masks should be used in combination with appropriate social distancing.  Thorough hand-washing is still the most advocated medical advice for healthy people to avoid acquiring the virus.

Doodle Alpaca Pattern Cloth Face Maskcom
Doodle Alpaca Pattern Cloth Face Maskcom

Trendy Dressed Llama Pattern Cloth Face Maskcom
Trendy Dressed Llama Pattern Cloth Face Maskcom

Colorful Llamas Pattern Cloth Face Maskcom
Colorful Llamas Pattern Cloth Face Maskcom

Pattern Of Alpacas, Cute Llamas With Hats, Flowers Cloth Face Maskcom
Pattern Of Alpacas, Cute Llamas With Hats, Flowers Cloth Face Maskcom

Cute Llamas With Scarfs, Alpacas, Cactus, Stars Cloth Face Maskcom
Cute Llamas With Scarfs, Alpacas, Cactus, Stars Cloth Face Maskcom

Cute Llamas On Teal Pattern Cloth Face Maskcom
Cute Llamas On Teal Pattern Cloth Face Maskcom

For more Alpaca and Llama Face Mask designs, click here.

Homemade face masks are not medical-grade and are not in any way a substitute for N95 or surgical masks, but they do serve a purpose.

How to Make a Face Mask at Home

How to Make a Face Mask at Home

To start a DIY face mask, you’ll want these supplies on hand:

Cotton fabric

Elastic

A sewing kit or sewing machine

A nonporous yet breathable material to go between the fabric (this may be detailed in a pattern)

Some designs call for filter material, which is added in an effort to block smaller particles.

According to Etsy, “Tens of thousands of sellers have already augmented their product offerings to include fabric face masks, demand will very likely outpace our sellers’ existing supply.  That’s why we are continuing to let sellers know that those with the skill and materials may want to consider creating and selling face masks on Etsy.”

If you’re looking to donate homemade face masks, there are multiple options, including Joann Fabrics and hospitals and organizations on this list.

 

The video above shows How to Make a No-Sew Face Mask.  For a video on How to Crochet a Face Mask, click here and a video on How to Knit a Face Mask, click here.

Stay safe!

Free Pattern – Sampler Fingerless Gloves

Loving texture, and interesting, unique patterns that also keep me interested while I’m making them, I was inspired by a blanket pattern.  Thinking about a class to teach at the farm, for those that had taken my Learn to Crochet Class, were tired of making scarves, interested in making fingerless gloves, and ready for a bit more of a challenge, I designed my first pattern!

The inspiration came from the Chunky Sampler Blanket Crochet Pattern – Wintertide Throw on the Mama In A Stitch website.  I thought that a sampling of different stitches in one project, would make a great next crochet class.  I’ve had to reschedule, and cancel, and reschedule my classes again, like many others, due to the worldwide pandemic we are currently experiencing, in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Since I still have not been able to hold the Sampler Fingerless Gloves Class, I thought I’d share the pattern, the beautiful yarn I used, and make a Kit available to purchase.  I am not a pattern designer, so please allow some forgiveness if you find an error in the pattern, and by all means, please let me know so that I can correct it.

The yarn I used is called Espiral Yarn, it is a worsted weight yarn, and 100% alpaca.  It is fairly new to the line-up from The Alpaca Yarn Company and is meant to replicate the look of hand spun yarn with every skein being unique.  I like that the randomness of this yarn just adds even more to this pattern for a fun pair of mis-matched, yet matching pair of fingerless gloves.  The yarn comes in both Natural Colors and Hand-Dyed Colors.  The color shown in the gloves is called Blue Curacao.

This pattern was meant to be shared in a class, so for that reason I’ve included links to instructions and videos to help you with the stitches that might be unfamiliar to you.   The following is a list and abbreviations of the stitches you’ll be using in this pattern.  What You Need to Know to Read any Crochet Pattern is an article you might find helpful.

Abbreviations (US) & Skills:

ch – chain
sc – single crochet
dc – double crochet
hdc – half double crochet
blo-work stitch through the back loops only
flo – work stitch through the front loops only
hdc flo – half double crochet through the front loop only
hdc blo – half double crochet through the front loop only
bphdc – back post half double crochet
sts – stitches
sk – skip
ch sp – chain space
yo – yarn over
sl st – slip stitch

Bobble Stitch
Yarn over, insert hook into st, pull up a loop, yo and pull through two, * yo, insert hook into same st, yo pull up a loop, yo and pull through two more, repeat from * three more times for a total of 5 loops on the hook, yarn over, pull through all loops on the hook.

Bean Stitch
Row 1 Insert hook in st, pull up a loop, yo, insert hook into same st, pull up another loop (4 loops on hook) yo, insert hook in same st, pull up a loop (6 loops on hook) yo, pull through all 6 loops on hook (bean stitch made), * ch1, sk 1 ch, work bean stitch in next st, repeat from * around.
Row 2 Work bean stitch in 1st ch sp, *ch 1, sk st, work bean st in next st; repeat from * around.

Granite Stitch
Sc in 2nd st from hook, *ch1, sk st, sc in next st, repeat from * across the row.

Finished Size:
Instructions are given to fit size Small. Changes for Medium and Large sizes are in parentheses (). S (M, L)

To fit Hand Circumference:  7″ (8″, 9″)

Finished Length:  9″

Hook Size: H-8, 5mm

Materials:  One Skein Espiral Alpaca Yarn

Instructions
Make 2.

CUFF
1. Ch8. Turn, Hdc in 2nd ch from hook and in each ch across. Turn. – 7 st
2. Ch1. Hdc blo in 1st st and each st across. Turn. – 7 st

 

Lesson 12: How to Crochet in the Front and Back Loop

Working in the back loop

To crochet in the back loop of a stitch, insert your crochet hook underneath the back loop only and make the stitch as indicated in your pattern.

Lesson 12: How to Crochet in the Front and Back Loop

3. Repeat Row 2 until you have a total of 17 (19, 21) rows.

Gauge check: Your band should be 7″ (7 3/4″, 8 1/2″) long x 2″ wide

Slip Stitch the ends of the cuff together.
Turn your work as if you’re going to another row of hdc blo, but don’t ch.
Fold up the bottom row so that it is behind your top row.
Insert hook through the back loop of your top row and the bottom loop of your starting chain. Slip stitch.
Slip stitch in this manner across (this is the wrong side of your cuff).

Turn the cuff right side out. Do not cut. The first round will be worked into the side of the cuff where your hook is. You will now be working in the round, but turning after each round.

BODY
Round 1 Ch2. Work 28 (32, 36) hdc evenly around the cuff. Ss to 1st hdc. Turn. – 28 (32, 36) sts
Round 2 Ch1. Dc in next flo of same stitch and each st around. Ss to top of ch1. Turn. 28 (32, 36) sts

Working in the front loop

To crochet in the front loop of a stitch, insert your crochet hook underneath the front loop only and make the stitch as indicated in your pattern.

Lesson 12: How to Crochet in the Front and Back Loop

Round 3 Ch1. Work row 1 of Bean Stitch Pattern in each st around. Ss to top of ch1. Turn. 28 (32, 36) sts
Round 4 Ch1. Work row 2 of Bean Stitch Pattern each ch sp around. Ss to top of ch1. Turn. 28 (32, 36) sts
Round 5 Ch1. Work row 1 of Granite Stitch Pattern, working through front loops only in each st around. Ss to top of ch1. Turn. 28 (32, 36) sts
Round 6 Ch1. Hdc flo in same stitch and each st around. Ss to top of ch1. Turn. 28 (32, 36) sts
Round 7 Ch1, BPHdc in same stitch and each st around. Ss to top of ch1. Turn. 28 (32, 36) sts
Round 8 Ch 1, work Bobble Stitch in flo of same st, * dc flo in each of next 2 sts, bobble flo in next st; repeat from * across to last 2 sts, dc in last 2 sts of row. Ss to top of ch1. Turn. 28 (32, 36) sts
Round 9 Ch 1, turn, work row 1 of Granite Stitch, working through the front loops only, across the row, working last sc in the turn ch 3 of previous round. Ss to top of ch1. Turn. 28 (32, 36) sts
Round 10 Ch1, turn, work hdc flo in same st and in each ch st and sc each st around. Ss to top of ch1. Turn. 28 (32, 36) sts
Round 11 Ch1, turn, work BPhdc in each st each st around. Ss to top of ch1. Turn. 28 (32, 36) sts
Round 12 Ch1, work round 1 of Bean Stitch Pattern, working through the front loops only each st around. Ss to top of ch1. Turn. 28 (32, 36) sts
Round 13 Ch1, work round 2 of Bean Stitch Pattern in same ch sp and each ch sp around (work normally, not flo). Ss to top of ch1. Turn. 28 (32, 36) sts
Round 14 Ch 1, sc in 1st st, ch1, sk1, *sc in next st, ch1, sk1* 2 times, sc, ch4, sk4, sc in next st, ch1, sk1* until end of round. (Thumbhole made) Ss to top of ch1. Turn. 28 (32, 36) sts
Round 15 Ch1, turn, hdc blo in each st around. Ss to top of ch1. Turn. 28 (32, 36) sts.
Round 16 Ch1, turn, hdc flo in each st around. Ss to top of ch1. Turn. 28 (32, 36) sts.

The next round calls for Back Post Half Double Crochet

Yarn over, insert hook from back to front to back around post of corresponding stitch below, yarn over and pull up loop, yarn over and draw through all 3 loops on hook.

Back post half double crochet (BPHdc) how to article from Interweave.

Round 17 Ch 1, turn, BPhdc in same hdc space and each hdc sp around. Ss to top of ch1. Turn. 28 (32, 36) sts

Tie off and weave in ends.
Block to shape and size as desired.

 

Interested in purchasing a Kit to make these gloves?  Click here.  Again, you can find the Espiral Yarn here.

Alpaca Meadows