Free Crochet Pattern – Sweet Stripes Alpaca Baby Blanket

I’ve been in the mood to make baby blankets lately … don’t ask me why. I don’t know anyone that’s expecting a baby and I certainly am way past those years. Maybe it’s because it took so long to warm up here in Ohio, and I haven’t minded having my lap covered with a warm alpaca blanket!

One thing for sure is that it will be warm and soft on that brand newborn baby skin. Can you think of any better way to welcome baby into this world than swaddled in a blanket made of natural alpaca fiber?

Speaking of babies, this is our newest cria, Ophelia. I just couldn’t resist posting a picture. She was just two weeks old when this was taken.

Newest Cria - Ophelia

I’m really happy with how this baby blanket turned out.

The grey, white, pink combo is so pretty and the scalloped edge is the finishing touch!

The pattern is a free one, from the Lion Brand website. You do have to set up an account and log-in to download the pattern, but there is no cost to do so. They call the pattern Summer Stripes Baby Afghan Pattern.

I used the Classic Alpaca yarn by The Alpaca Yarn Company in the colors Petal Pink, White House, and Liberty Grey. Click the links (or images) if you’d like to purchase!

It’s gotten warmer since I started this post, 90 degrees in Ohio today. I think I’ll opt for some smaller projects, like this matching Baby Hat and Booties!

Both the Sweet Stripes Alpaca Baby Blanket and the Baby Alpaca Booties and Hat Set are available to purchase, and would make a wonderful baby gift, just click the links!

Free Crochet Pattern – Ribs ‘n Ridges Alpaca Infinity Scarf

This pattern is fairly simple, and I love the post stitches that create the ribs and the ridges in this infinity scarf! The pattern I started with is The Ribs and Ridges Scarf on the The Friendly Red Fox website.

I altered it just a bit. Rather than crocheting a rectangle and sewing the edges together when finished like the pattern instructs, I crocheted the scarf in the round. I just like to be finished, when I’m finished. Do you know what I mean?

I used our Classic Alpaca Tweed Yarn for this project and really like how it turned out. This yarn is available in eight different colors, all with little flecks of fiber in them to create the tweed. Of course, it’s 100% alpaca, so very soft and just a pleasure to work with … and wear! The color I used is called Cork.

SKILL LEVEL
Easy

HOOK
5.5 mm (H)

MATERIALS
Approximately 465 Yards of Classic Alpaca Tweed

Stitches used in this pattern (click the links for help with stitches):
CH -chain
Sl st – slip stitch
Sc – single crochet
DC – double crochet
FPDC– front post double crochet
BPDC – back post double crochet

PATTERN

Row 1: FDC 250, join into a circle.

Row 2: Chain 2, alternate FPDC and BPDC until the end, join with a ss in top of chain.

Row 3: CH 2, match your FPDC and BPDC. The posts should line up. Continue around, join with a ss in top of chain.

Row 4: CH 2, FPSC acround. There will be a row visible in the front. Slip stitch to the back stitches, join with a ss in top of chain.
HINT: The slip stitch is only to take you back to the FPDC that you did in row 3. If you crochet on the FPSC then it will not show up as a neat line.

Row 5: CH 2, DC in each stitch around. Make sure that you do not crochet in the FPSC, join with a ss in top of chain. It will be easy to see the ridge if you are doing it correctly!

Row 6: CH 2, FPSC across. Slip stitch to the back stitches (not the line in front), join with a ss in top of chain.

Row 7:  CH 2, DC in each row across. Make sure that you are not crochet in the FPSC. Chain 1 and turn, join with a ss in top of chain.

Row 8: CH 2, FPSC around. Slip stitch to the back stitches (not the line in front), join with a ss in top of chain.

Repeat  Rows 1-8 (With a DC not a FDC for row 1) twice more!
Do not FPSC for the last row.

For a more visual representation the entire scarf should look like this:
3 Rows of Post Stitches (This includes the starting DC row)
FPSC
DC
FPSC
DC
FPSC
3 Rows of Post Stitches (This includes the starting DC row)
FPSC
DC
FPSC
DC
FPSC
3 Rows of Post Stitches (This includes the starting DC row)
FPSC
DC
FPSC
DC

10 Reasons to Raise Alpacas

Why did we start raising alpacas? We fell in love with them, and the alpaca lifestyle! There are soo many more reasons to choose to start an alpaca farm…here’s just ten of them!

1. Love of the Animals

Like I said, we fell in love with the animals! When we visited that first alpaca farm and saw those intriguing looking animals, it was love at first sight! There is a peacefulness about these gentle animals, with their long elegant necks, large eyes, long lashes, and gentle humming. Alpacas continue to transfix us, making them irresistible for those of us who have taken the “taken the plunge.” 

We raise both suris and huacayas!

2. The Love of Luxury Fiber

As I sorted through the crop of fiber after our first shearing, I knew I wanted to learn how to use such luxurious fiber. It is very high quality, super soft, fluffy, lustrous, and silky. While similar to sheep’s wool, it is not prickly and has no lanolin, making alpaca fiber hypoallergenic.

Suri Fiber

The fiber can be sold raw off the animal, carded and spun into yarn, crocheted, knit, or woven into countless products, or felted. The possibilities are endless!

Huacaya Fiber

In both our Online Store and in our Farm Store, you can find anything from raw fiber to finished garments made directly from the fiber of alpacas. Though we do breed and sell the alpacas themselves, today the fiber is my main reason for raising alpacas.

3. The Desire for a Rural Lifestyle

Having alpacas gives us a reason to get outside, be in the outdoors, and enjoy the beauty all around us. Though we live right next to a major highway, there is something much simpler about living on a farm, raising animals, caring for their basic needs because they depend on us to do so, and sometimes getting dirty. It’s a slower pace. I love living with nature all around us, and looking out my window seeing alpacas graze in the pasture just makes it all that more enjoyable. Alpacas are gentle, inquisitive creatures that make us want to take time out to watch and enjoy them.

Our dogs Lizzie and Louie have a lot of courage on the other side of the fence!

4. A Great Family Endeavor

Living on a farm of any kind teaches kids responsibility, and alpacas are good with kids. When visitors come, we suggest they crouch down, so they are more child size because alpacas are less intimidated by children and more apt to approach them. There are tons of ways kids can help to take care of the alpacas, from filling water buckets, to scooping poop, to halter training…there is always a task with which they can help. Giving chores to your children will instill work ethic and responsibility to take into adulthood. Not to mention, they will treasure the bonds they make with the alpacas!

Raising alpacas is great for the kids
My grandson in the middle of things, loving the attention from the alpacas!

If your children participate in 4-H, they can now do alpacas as a 4-H project! When my children were growing up there was not a 4-H group dedicated to alpacas, now it is becoming much more common. The Richland County Fair in Ohio even has an alpaca barn and hosts an alpaca show every year. 4-H is an awesome program for kids to make friends, build leadership skills, learn about the projects they’ve chosen, and participate in the yearly fair. Find out more about Getting Your Children Involved in 4-H.

Alpaca 4h group at the Richland County Fair in Ohio
Richland County 4-H Club

7. Easy to Care For

Compared to other farm animals, alpacas are low maintenance. They are also very adaptable to different kinds of weather and climates. If you have one acre of land, you can comfortably keep six to ten alpacas. Alpacas require regular feeding and easy access to plenty of clean water, as well as adequate shelter from the elements. They spend most of their time grazing in the pasture. Additionally, plan on annual shearing, de-worming, toenail trimming, occasionally teeth trimming, and annual vaccinations.

8. Alpacas Provide Stress Relief

Even though alpacas have some quirky behaviors like spitting when they are unsatisfied, more and more animal lovers are opting to raise them because they are easy to look after, intelligent, and tidy. Time spent with alpacas is stress-relieving — perfect for forgetting about all the troubles of the world!

Suri alpaca at Alpaca Meadows
Not a good look for such a pretty girl!

8. Alpacas are Trainable

Alpacas are perfect animals for training using a halter and leash. Though fearful initially, I’m always amazed how quickly a weanling begins to trust and learn once halter training begins, and how quickly they begin to trust and do what you’re they’re being asked. Alpacas can be taught to maneuver obstacles courses, walk across bridges, over teeter totters, through streamers, and even crawling in and out of mini-vans!

Sisters Amelia and Annalise are out for a walk with me!

9. Alpaca Manure is Great Fertilizer

We absolutely love to use the alpaca poop as fertilizer! In my opinion the smell is not as strong as cow manure and our plants grow like crazy! We take it straight out of the pasture and into the gardens. Free fertilizer is a great perk of alpacas.

Speaking of manure…interestingly enough all alpacas poop in the same place…yes, they have communal dung piles! When it comes to cleaning out the barns or the pasture there are just a few large poop piles where they all do their business. I know, it’s weird, but that’s just their nature and it makes for pretty easy clean-up.

Alpaca Manure for fertilizer
I always treat my flowerbeds to alpaca manure

Alpacas are grazers and they love a nice green pasture. Typically we will let them in one pasture for a few weeks, let them eat it down, and then move them to another pasture to let that one grow back a bit. Rotating pastures also helps with parasite control.

Alpacas in the pasture
The girls enjoying a pretty day and a green pasture

10. The Cutest Babies Ever

One of the greatest joys of raising alpacas is the babies, called crias. Seeing them born is extra special, and watching themrun in the pasture just brings a smile to my face. Females can be bred once a year and have a gestational period of 242-345 days. Working with the animals starting from when they’re crias makes for a great owner/animal relationship and deepens trust…and the babies are sooo cute!

Alpacas are herd animals so if you want one, you’ll need to have two. This is actually a great thing because they don’t really need us. If your animal has at least one companion you don’t need to worry about not having enough time for them or keeping them engaged or entertained. Just get them some buddies and they will be just fine.

Want to know more about alpacas and our farm? Check out our website.

save the planet, wear alpaca!

DIY Summer Outfits for Crocheters

Ok DIY-ers, crocheters, and yarn-lovers…don’t think all your projects have to be winter scarves, hats and gloves! Check out these awesome summer pieces and create your very own chic, unique, summer wardrobe.

Boho Mini Dress

This lightweight fun mini-dress is a free pattern by Jenny and Teddy. The pattern uses a worsted weight yarn and you’ll need a few buttons for the front. Our Espiral Yarn is 100% alpaca and is the perfect weight. This pattern is at a beginner level, so it’s great for those of you who want a quick project or are just beginning to crochet. Looking for a solid color, perhaps the white that is pictured? Take a look at our Classic Alpaca or our Astral Yarn, both a DK weight but easily adaptable to this pattern.

alpaca herd at Alpaca Meadows
Our Alpacas

Did you know you can wear alpaca clothing in the summer time? One of the miracles of alpaca wool clothing is that it regulates your body temperature in winter and summer, something called thermoregulation. Read more about it here.

Catalina Tank Top

Enjoy another great beginner pattern for free from Stitch and Hustle.  

Designed specifically for beginners who may not be familiar with making garments, this tank has a light, open, nature with its lacy crochet stitches and will make for a cool tank in warm weather.

Watch writing classes at myBluprint.com

Easy Breezy Cover-up

Wouldn’t this be an awesome cover-up for your next beach day?! This pattern isn’t free but it can be purchased from megmadewithlove on Etsy for only $3! That’s a steal for this precious pattern. Once again, this is made with a worsted weight yarn.

Currituck Coverup

Ok I had to include one more cover up because this is too cute. If you prefer a style that doesn’t cinch at the waist and sports some tassels, this is the pattern for you! This pattern can be purchased from TheStitchandHookBCS. Don’t worry, this pattern is beginner friendly.

Summer Crop Top

This crocheted crop top is the perfect hippy vibe and would look great with a pair of high-waisted shorts or a maxi-skirt. You can find this pattern on Etsy in the CONCEPTcreativeSTORE. This pattern was done with a fingering weight yarn..check out our Mariquita yarn for this one. These big bell sleeves give this top an awesome vintage look.

Maxi Skirt and Crop Top

These two-piece outfits have been pretty popular in stores lately! This pattern can be found on Casale Crafts. What a sweet duo…I think I’ll make a multi-colored pair. I have the perfect skein of Paca Paints yarn in mind!

Crochet Hooks, Tools & Notions

Lace Shorts

On to shorts. Forget denim this summer and go with lace! These crocheted shorts are sure to be more breathable, stretchy and more comfy than denim. With DIY clothing, you can adjust the length and waist size to your own comfortability! This free pattern is provided by DIY 4 EVER.

Summer Dress

And…one more dress for good measure! Such a fun and cute pattern for summer…especially in this cheery yellow color. I have a golden tone yarn called Serengeti that I’d love to try with this pattern!

Hopefully this gets everyone a little more excited for summer and inspires some projects! Let me know if anyone tries out any of these patterns, I’d love to see your results. Happy Crafting!

**I do not own any of these images, image credits all go to the wonderful pattern creators**

Strauch Jumbo Ball Winder Videos

The Jumbo Ball Winder from the Strauch Fiber Equipment Co. far exceeds any other ball winders on the market. It’s proudly made in the U.S.A., is super sturdy, containing no plastic parts other than the band which will last for years. Whether you’re winding a small or large skein, lightweight yarn or bulky, this is a quality made ball winder in a class all its own, and is an essential tool that will be invaluable to any fiber artist.

Strauch Fiber Equipment Company is committed to keeping customers satisfied. Enjoy the following videos to help you get the most out of your Strauch Jumbo Ball Winder! Don’t have one yet? To order, click here.


 How to Fix a Squeaking Strauch Ball Winder

 Replace the Drive Cone and Clean out Trapped Fiber from your Strauch Jumbo Ball Winder.

 Winding Slippery Yarns on a Strauch Jumbo Ball Winder

 Strauch Fiber Equipment Yarn Management Tools

 Jumbo Ball Winder and Swift. The Perfect Couple.

 Checking the Ball Winder Internal Bearing

 We Love Happy Customers!

 How to Wind Super Wash Merino on a Strauch Ball Winder

 Winding Slippery Yarns – Another Technique

 Winding Merino Yarn

 Strauch Jumbo Ball Winder Maintenance

What makes the Strauch Jumbo Ball Winder so special?

  • Makes a very large center-pull ball – up to one pound of yarn.
  • Great for winding large skeins or bulky yarns.
  • No oiling or adjusting required thanks to a ball bearing drive.
  • Longer counter-weight bracket greatly reduces vibration.
  • 15″ base eliminates “knuckle-smacking” while winding.
  • Tall, soft rubber feet prevents the winder from sliding and scratching your table.
  • Special drive belt material makes for less slipping while making a ball.
  • Extra long table clamp secures the winder to a variety of table surfaces.

Of course, the perfect companion to the Jumbo Ball Winder for all your yarn winding needs is the Strauch Swift/Skeinwinder!

5 Unique Crochet Patterns to Try

There’s so many things that can be made by knitting and crocheting…the possibilities are endless! If you’re bored of hats, scarves, blankets etc., here are a few unique things you can make! There are great patterns for unique gifts, decorations, or just a new accessory for yourself!

Save The Drama Llama

Llama doll crochet pattern
Pattern by Nancy Anderson

Llama and alpacas are all the trend lately when it comes to decorations, toys and accessories. Every time I go to the store I see something with a cute alpaca or llama pattern or some new alpaca knick knack. With this pattern, join the alpaca/llama craze and crochet your own! Customize your llama to be any color you like! My recommendation would be to use Snuggle yarn for a fluffy, squishy soft alpaca or llama! For some extra crochet help see
Online Crochet Classes.

Floor Pouf

crocheted floor pouf
Pattern by MJ’s Off the Hook Designs

Ok, I think poufs are the perfect addition to any living room! Everyone likes to kick back and put their feet up. Relax in style with your own custom floor pouf … you can even make it multicolored! The pattern calls for three strands of bulky cotton and an (L) crochet 8mm crochet hook . Again, I would use our bulky Snuggle yarn for a super soft pouf!

Slipper Boots

Crocheted slipper boots
Pattern on SMP Craft

Slippers are great in the winter and summer! These babies would make an awesome Christmas gift! Just sayin’, it’s never too early to be thinking about Christmas gifts. Try out some Classic Alpaca Tweed yarn for this pattern!

Gypsy Boho Bag

Pattern on Make & Do Crew

I guarantee no one else will be carrying the same purse as you after this pattern! Create your own one-of-a-kind bag! The style is so “Gypsy Boho”… this is sure to be the perfect lightweight purse for you this summer. Choose one of the many solid colors of Classic Alpaca Yarn or go with a worsted weight and use one of the pretty colors in our new Espiral Yarn line. I am also picturing using some Alpaca Art Yarn on this bag for some wild colors and texture.

Cactus Pots

crocheted decorative cactus pots
Pattern by PlanetJune

Anyone have trouble keeping houseplants alive? Problem solved. Add some greenery to your house that you never have to remember to water! These cacti pots are sooo stinkin’ cute…and Southwestern decor seems to be all the rage lately.

Preparing for Shearing Day

Shearing day is one of the most important days of the year on alpaca farms. It is the day that we harvest the beautiful fiber that our alpacas have grown over the last year. Getting organized for the day ahead of time certainly makes the day less stressful and chaotic. Teamwork and a well thought out plan will make shearing day run like a well oiled machine.

That being said, shearing is one of my least favorite parts of raising alpacas, because though our shearers claim it takes them just eight minutes to shear an alpaca, and though they are not harmed in any way, it still is a scary experience for them. Some tolerate it better than others. All of them feel better when it’s over.

So I think of it as an day at the spa for alpacas … they get their teeth, their toenails, their topknots, and their tails all trimmed … in addition to a summer haircut!

alpacas

The cleaner your alpacas are on shearing day, the more value your fiber harvest will be. It has been said that you should “Groom your pasture, not your alpacas.” Make sure that briars, sticks, evergreen needles, dead leaves, and other small, loose vegetative matter are removed from your fields so that it doesn’t get into the alpacas’ fiber. Ideally, keep them in a nice grassy pasture with no hay one week prior to shearing.

I did say a green pasture was ideal. Our alpacas were on straw and a winter’s worth of manure (layered with straw) on shearing day. In Ohio, we go from winter to mud season and it just always seems to be too wet to clean the barns and haul manure anywhere. It’s not the end of the world.

In the pictures, you can see that we’ve used our interlocking stall panels so that we can herd each alpaca into our chute for cleaning. Our chute has belly bands and various restraints to keep the alpacas semi-still while we do some cleaning. Cleaning involves picking the debris out of their fiber, as much as they will tolerate. If they are getting stressed, we quit. This is also a good time to give yearly vaccines, dewormers, and any other medication they are needing.

Here is a list of items to have on hand on shearing day:

  • Large sheets for collecting blanket (prime) fiber. Plastic tablecloths work nicely for this, or a large plastic bag cut up both sides.
  • Large clear plastic bags for seconds (neck and upper leg) and noodled blanket fiber. Clear bags can be hard to find. Check Costco or Odd Lots. Read how to noodle alpaca blanket fiber here.
  • Trash cans for collecting thirds (leg fiber, tail, top knot, trimmings), or a smaller bag if you plan to weigh fiber from each alpaca.
  • Trash can for contaminated fiber.
  • Labels to identify fiber from each alpaca.
  • List of alpacas in order you plan to shear, males first, then light colors to dark colors.
  • Loaded syringes if you plan to administer shots the day of shearing.
  • Towels for “accidents”.
  • Broom for sweeping fiber.
  • Halters/leads to move alpacas to shearing area and back to pasture/barn.
  • Cleaning tools. We use the Crimp Slick N Go and the Oster Curry – Coarse, found at Quality Llama Products. Some people use blowers, but we never have.

Weather is always an issue. If it looks rain, keep your alpacas in the barn to so they can stay dry. A wet alpaca cannot be shorn.

We shear males first so they can be put back out in the pasture and away from the girls that will be parading by all day. We then shear lightest colors animals to darkest, which helps to prevent color contamination.

If we have a mother and cria, we try to keep them close in the shearing line-up to minimize stress for both.

You will need some help. The shearers, of which we have four young, strong men who are professionals and know what they are doing, will perform most of the physical work. This year we got by with three additional people helping the shearers, four or more is better for our size herd. Each helper has a job:

Helper One and Two: Halters alpacas for shearing in listed order, brings alpacas to shearing area. Once alpaca is restrained on mat for shearing, brings next alpaca. Returns alpacas to pasture once they are shorn, making sure to return males and females to appropriate places!

Helper Three and Four: Lays sheet down next to alpaca to collect and noodle blanket fiber, collect seconds, and puts correct label with each. Collect thirds. Sweep up any fiber too dirty to use, toenails, etc.

In the background, you can see the plastic sheets we use, and bags ready to go. Next to them is a clipboard with the list of alpacas in order to be shorn. Labels for bags are also on clipboard.

It’s always a delight to see the lovely fiber that comes off our alpacas!

This is a picture of blanket fiber that has been noodled, label enclosed, with a bag of seconds next to it. I slip the noodled fiber in the bag of seconds, using just one bag per alpaca, but still keeping the blanket and seconds separate.

Alpacas spit! Usually it is at each other, or when they feel threatened. Unfortunately some of them feel threatened on shearing day, and Kevin took it right in the face.

Our grandchildren, Wade, Clayton, and Brylee were the clean-up crew this year! I love that we live on a farm and can involve them!!

Alpacas look a whole lot different without their beautiful fiber, just in time for warm weather to arrive.

Be sure to see Shearing Day and Shearing Day is Behind Us. Coming soon … What to Do With All This Alpaca Fiber!

Crochet and Knitting Patterns for Alpacas and Llamas

We’ve been raising alpacas for quite a few years, and now suddenly they’ve become popular! They seem to be everywhere, and on everything. There are some darling knitting and crochet patterns for alpacas and llamas, as well as purses, backpacks, finger puppets, pillows, hats and mittens, shaped like or adorned with these magical creatures!

Crochet and Knitting Patterns for Alpacas and Llamas

Some still mistake alpacas for llamas, and vice versa. The size difference between alpacas and llamas is obvious, but the other distinct difference is their ears. Alpacas have smaller, spear shaped ears and llamas have larger, banana shaped ears. Find out more by reading 6 Differences Between Llamas and Alpacas by Modern Farmer.

Photo by Modern Farmer

Hope you enjoy my Pinterest board collection of Crochet and Knitting Patterns for Alpacas and Llamas … some of the patterns are free!


Free Knitting Pattern – Susie Rogers’ Reading Mitts

I ran across a knitting pattern this morning for Susie Rogers’ Reading Mitts, which seems appropriate to post as I look outside after yet another snowfall! Seems like it’s been an awfully long winter in Ohio, but I’m very happy to see the sunshine peek in and out.

Free mitten pattern

These mitts are a quick and easy knit made from our Classic Alpaca Yarn by The Alpaca Yarn Company in the color, White House. Susie writes, “This may very well be the softest, squishiest yarn I have ever laid my hands on.”

Classic Alpaca Yarn

This yarn is 100% Alpaca, so it is also super warm, perfect for weather in Ohio. Fingerless gloves made from alpaca are also very useful in cold offices throughout the year!

This pattern is FREE, and written for three different sizes, also in four different languages! It calls for size US 5 – 3.75 knitting needles, and 200-210 yards of DK weight yarn. Simple and pretty!

Spinning Fiber into Yarn

Original content from Threads of Peru

Spinning is the process of turning the raw wool and fibers, shorn from the animals, into strong, consistent useful threads. Quechua weavers use a drop spindle (pushka), which is similar to a wooden top with an elongated axis. The pushka varies in size with the diameter of thread being spun. The act of spinning is known as puskhay. Multiple threads are combined to form stronger ones. Single strands of thread are removed from the pushkas, combined into balls and skeins, and then spun together again.

Spinning is done while walking along the road, chatting with friends, or watching over one’s children or sheep.

The process of combining threads is called plying or k’antiy. A larger version of the pushka is used to do k’antiy, creating double (2-ply) or triple (3-ply) strands of yarn into thinner, stronger and more consistent yarn for weaving. The strands can go to 4-ply or higher, but this is less common. Alpaca fiber can be spun into much finer threads than sheep’s wool.

It’s rare to see an Andean woman or young girl without her hands busy spinning. It is a predominately feminine activity in indigenous culture, and often so commonplace as to be performed almost unconsciously. It is also common, in weaving communities, for boys to learn how to spin from a young age. Men will often know how to spin, even if they don’t learn to weave. Spinning is done while walking along the road, chatting with friends, or watching over your children or sheep. It’s a skill that people begin training in as children, and it takes years of practice to spin proficiently. Thus, spinning is a refined art in and of itself; one whose difficulty is often overlooked. Spinning is a vital part of the weaving process, as the yarn must be fine, but strong and even to be useful in weaving high-quality textiles.

Read more about the Alpaca Fiber & Wool Process here.

Learn How To Spin With A Drop Spindle



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