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

Snuggle Wrist Cuffs and Yarn Substitution

This was a FREE knitting pattern I picked up at JoAnn Fabrics, also available on the Lion Brand website, and Ravelry.  It is an easy beginner’s pattern.

I substituted one of our Snuggle yarns for the Lion Brand Yarn that the pattern called for.  Both the Snuggle Yarn and the Wool-Ease Thick & Quick Yarn are considered Super Bulky weight at 5-6 wraps per inch.

Snuggle Yarn - Black

When substituting yarn for projects different than what the project calls for, the gauge of your pattern determines which weight of yarn you should select. You can use any yarn that has a suggested gauge equal to the gauge of your pattern. Ideally, you’d confirm the match by knitting and blocking a gauge swatch.  Potential substitutes might also be found in other gauge (weight) categories. By increasing and decreasing your needle size, you can alter the gauge and characteristics of the knitted fabric.

Snuggle Wrist Cuffs

If a pattern doesn’t tell you the gauge, it likely will tell you the weight of the yarn, whether its chunky, worsted, or fingering weight. Some patterns that give gauge will also tell you the weight of the yarn, which is handy information to help in your search.

This method works best if the gauge of your pattern is given over stockinette if knitting, or over single crochet if crocheting.

Be sure to swatch and check your gauge carefully, using whatever size hook or needle is needed to obtain the gauge of the pattern. Be sure you are satisfied with the fabric that results; it should be neither too stiff nor too loose.

I have to be honest, I have never knit a swatch to check the gauge in my life.  I do a lot of winging it, making adjustments as I go, making notes for next time.  Sometimes I’m happy with the results, sometimes I’m not.

Washing and Combing Suri Fiber for Doll Hair

Doll makers from all over the world have purchased Suri Alpaca Fiber from us, and frequently I get asked how to wash and comb the fiber.

Though I have washed lots and lots of alpaca fiber, I wanted to asked the experts what the best way might be to process it for doll hair.

Blythe Doll with Suri Fiber Doll Hair

Blythe Doll with Suri Fiber

 Doll artist, Sofie Bell from Ramsgate, England rerooted this Blythe Doll from some white Suri Fiber from one of our alpacas.  According to Sofie, “Two ounces (60 grams) of processed suri will give a nice thick Blythe reroot.  If combing yourself, there will be waste so ordering more than you think you need is a good idea.”

Suri Alpaca Fiber

Sophie has been kind enough to share the preparation routine that she follows :

1) Weigh the fiber before starting a reroot to make sure you will have enough for a full job.  A LOT of alpaca is lost during processing.    This is especially important if dyeing the alpaca a custom color.

2) Gently separate the locks of any large clumps of fiber.  Pick out any vegetable matter.

3) Gently wash the alpaca in warm water, using either a small squirt of dish detergent (fairy liquid etc) or a gentle baby shampoo. Keep the water temperature at a constant, never too hot or too cold, as any temperature changes can cause the hair to mat and knot together. Rinse well in fresh warm water taking care not to wring out the hair.  A gentle squeeze is enough to remove excess water.

4) Roll fiber in a towel to absorb the excess moisture.

5) Carefully separate the washed alpaca into more manageable strands and lay flat on a clean towel in a warm place.  Allow to dry naturally (usually overnight or much quicker in the sun on a nice day).  This makes the fiber much easier to handle once its dry.

6) Carefully brush out the alpaca.  A dog grooming brush, the kind with small thin metal prongs works best.  Always comb gently in the natural direction of the alpaca while holding one end.

7) Make small bundles of the processed alpaca and tie them with a rubber band.  This just helps keep everything a little tidier.

8) After rerooting, give the hair a final wash and condition, and a spritz of fragrance if desired!

Sharon Avital Dolls

The doll pictured above was done by Sharon Avital, a doll maker from Ramat Gan, Israel. Sharon’s tip for working with suri alpaca is “I separate the locks and them wash them in small batches.  It’s much easier to comb and not too much fiber is lost this way. The same with dye.”

Lilibeth by Cindy Sowers

Lilibeth, pictured above, is done by doll artist, Cindy Sowers from Burlington, Vermont with some of our fiber that she dyed.  Cindy says this about dyeing Suri Fiber, “I think alpaca is quite fragile, so anything you can do to use less processing is best. Condition (human hair conditioner) before and after  dyeing, comb gently like you would a baby’s hair. I haven’t tried cool water dyes. They would probably be better – however, with dolls, some of the plastics and vinyl soak up dye if it isn’t cured really well, so it might be sort of an experiment rather than a fact that it would work well. Probably the same things you do to dye hair for weaving or felting, just being more gentle because you want to maintain the length.”

How I process my hair….so it gets to you with no waste on your end. I soak it several different times in a detergent until the water comes clean, (After all they’re farm animals whose favorite pastime is rolling in the dirt) then I shampoo it and put a very high quality conditioner on it and rinse it completely out. I always keep the cut ends together so when you root it lays like natural hair does. I air-dry the bundles and then I comb until my very fine tooth metal comb goes thru it completely without any resistance. I bundle it in small amounts and wrap it in tissue so it arrives to you ready to use and tangle free. I asked a doll maker friend who told me she uses conditioner on the fiber (Pantene or something similar). She uses John Frieda Frizz-Ease styling spray on damp hair. She uses a heat wand for straightening human hair, and a regular human curling wand for curling.

Be sure to read Jo Moxie’s post on How to Wash Suri Alpaca and Mohair.  She has updated her post and has found with the alpaca fiber, that she  NEVER brushes it until it is already knotted and loop/locked into the dollies scalps.

New Home for Alpacas at Broken Spirit Ranch

Blazen Spirit of Lady Liberty, the first cria born on our farm, has moved to a new farm in Tennessee.

Free Crochet Pattern – Elf Slippers

Tis the season to be crocheting up some Elf Slippers!  This super cute crochet pattern was designed by KJ Hay and calls for a bulky weight yarn and and a US I-9 (5.5mm) crochet hook.   It is written for sizes XS to XL.

elf slippers crochet pattern

I’m thinking the perfect yarn would be our Snuggle bulky weight alpaca blend yarn.  Oh would these slippers be soft and warm!

        Snuggle Bulky Alpaca Blend Yarn - Jubilee  

I’d choose the colors Jubilee, Snow White, and either Shire or Pine Tree for the green.  Not exactly the same as the picture, but I like this combination.

 

The pattern suggests jingle bells or pompoms for the toe.  I definitely would opt for pompoms, thinking the jingle of the bells might get a little tiresome!

I think I’ll try a pair, in a small size, which would be really cute, don’t you think?

Free Crochet Pattern – Lost In Time Alpaca Shawl

I used the pattern called Lost in Time on the Mijo Crochet website for this beautiful alpaca shawl.

Johanna Lindah, who designed this pattern, lives in Sweden, and has included 12 different translations of the pattern, including English, lucky for me.  I love the vintage look, and all the different stitches she has included, which just makes this project so interesting and fun!  Her pattern is a repetition of 12 rows, and because I like to combine colors, I used 12 different alpaca yarn colors, some solid colors, some hand painted, some tone-on-tone.

lost_in_time_alpaca_shawl

Johanna put tassels on her shawls, which I opted not to do, just thought the edge was so pretty all by itself.

You can use any yarn, or hook, and customize your shawl size by the number of repetitions.   Using a 4.0mm (G) Hook, the finished dimensions of the shawl I made were 72″ across x 42″ from the center to the point of the triangle, and took 1015 yards.

Stitches used in this pattern (US terms):
Ch -chain
Sl st – slip stitch
Sc – single crochet
Dc – double crochet
Fp dc – front post double crochet
Bp dc – back post dc
Popcorn
Picot with 2 ch

Several stitches you might not be familiar with are the Picot Stitch and the Popcorn Stitch.  Check out the helpful tutorials below:

A “Peek-o” at the Picot Stitch: How to Make It Work for Any Crochet Project

Crochet Picot Stitch Tutorial With Variations and Patterns

Popcorn Stitch Tutorial

Crochet Popcorn Stitch Tutorial & Patterns to Try

It is a perfect pattern for our NEW Mini Madness Yarn Packs.  I’m thinking with one size smaller crochet hook than what I used, 900 yards would work for this shawl.

mini madness yarn packages

Be sure to check out the pictures that the designer has included with the pattern.   She has made this shawl in solid colors too, which are also very pretty!



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