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.


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
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!

Free Crochet Patterns for Fingering Weight Yarn

Summer is the time for crochet patterns that call for lightweight yarn, not too heavy or too warm while lying in your lap, easy to pick up and take with you on a road trip, sitting in the doctor’s office, even to the ball park.  We have a handful of different Fingering Weight alpaca yarns …  Mariquita, and Paca Peds from The Alpaca Yarn Company, and several of our lines of Farm Yarn from our own alpacas.  I’ve put together a collection of twenty of my favorite free crochet patterns, most of them requiring just one skein of fingering weight yarn.  Hope you find one you like!


Fortune’s Shawlette by Tamara Kelley of Moogly

Fortune’s Shawlette was inspired by the ubiquitous corner to corner stitch, aka the diagonal box stitch.  The result is gorgeous, and just right for year round – bunch it up for warmth, stretch it out for a light as air layer on the shoulders.

Furrow Socks by Figpox Farms Designs

Handmade socks are one of life’s true luxuries, and heavenly to wear a pair of socks that are handcrafted from soft and luxurious yarns like alpaca.

Going to Wales by Sandra Paul

You don’t have to go to Wales to make this light, airy scarf for the “confident beginner”.  It’s a perfectly portable project, if you need a project while travelling.

Spinny Chullo by Annie Modesitt

A cute hat good for any head, with a spinning pattern worked from the top down.

Isar Scarf by Julia Vaconsin

This is a very simple mid-season scarf that is perfect to show off a beautiful hand dyed yarn.

Fern by Jan Powers

This soft and light wrap curls around you like a fern frond.


Crocodile Stitch Dragonscale Fluffy Gloves by Tahara

Now these are some fun gloves, with a free pattern written for small, medium, and large sizes.


Dragon Wing by Aklori Designs

This pattern requires a tunisian hook that can hold 100 stitches.  The wrap works up very quickly and is a great way to use up a smaller gradient cake.

Ultimate Crocheted Socks by Dorothy Hardy

These socks are crocheted from the toe-up. The heel is crocheted as you go; no after-thoughts.  The custom fit is better and you’re finished when the cuff is done.


Artfully Simple Angled Scarf via Tamara Kelley of Moogly

This mesh scarf works wonderful year round, and can be worn a variety of different ways.


Crocodile Pixie Hat by Pia Thadani

Super cute hat!  Pattern contains a short photo tutorial for the crocodile stitch.


Spring Fling Triangle Scarf by Heather J Anderson

You could wear this scarf around your neck like a bandana or even as a shawlette. By using a much larger hook than called for, you are able to stretch how far one skein will take you because the stitches will be looser and farther apart.


When the Ocean meets the Scarf by MelissaFleur Hughes

This ocean theme scarf features 3D textures and patterns. The stitches include Wave stitch, Diagonal weave and a Looping Shells section. Stitches are shown with photos.


Belle Epoque Scarf by Elaine Phillips

Easy scarf pattern with a graph included.


Off to Sausalito by Jessie Rayot

This striking unisex hat is worked in continuous rounds and features spiraling stripes in a simple single crochet v~stitch.


Star Mitts by Rae Blackledge

Keep busy hands comfortably warm with these hip fingerless mittens.


Vagabond by PurpleIguana

“Simple doesn’t have to mean boring,” Vagabond is a lightweight addition that floats around your shoulders and looks good in just about any yarn.  This crochet pattern has a video tutorial.


Julia by DROPS design

Cute hat with a video tutorial and yarn converter if you want to use a different weight yarn.


Garden Trellis Cowl by Petra Cosgrove-Tremblay

A fitting name for this pretty cowl that looks like a garden trellis.


Scallop Stitch Cardigan by Fatima

This is a very easy crochet cardigan uses a simple close-weave lace pattern.


Which will you try first?  I think I’ll try When the Ocean meets the Scarf  … I love the texture of the Wave stitch, Diagonal weave and Looping Shells.  Oh and I do have a pair of socks started out of our Paca Peds yarn.  No sense in getting bored!

Male Alpacas Establish Pecking Order

It is true that alpacas are quiet and peaceful.  However, when it comes to male alpacas there is a pecking order, and sometimes they fight to determine who’s going to be in charge.  Mostly they disagree over who’s going to stand closest to the girls.  We’ve had two separate groups of males this winter for reasons I’ll explain in a moment. Recently, I nonchalantly opened the gate between the two groups because we are needing the barn space, hoping they all could just get along.  I stood and watched what unfolded next, and found it to be quite interesting.

                  Males Forced to Back Pasture

Let me back up and give you a little history.  We have a bully and his name is Ranger, or shouldn’t I label him?  I guess as nature would have it, he has fought his way to the top of the pecking order, but he’s almost gone to auction for the last three years because he’s a management problem.  Not only does he fight with our other males, he keeps them in the far pasture so they can’t be near the girls, or the hay, or the water.  We did solve the water problem by putting another water trough in the back pasture.

               Derecho and New Water Trough

As we prepared for winter, we were forced to put Ranger in a separate pasture, and give him half of the small barn that the boys use, in order for the rest of the males to have access to shelter this winter.

                             Ranger In Charge

Then came Derecho, a male huacaya that was rehomed to us this winter.  He is our only huacaya male, the rest being suri’s.  We knew better than to put him with Ranger, and have him get beat up, but being a small male, he somehow was able to squeeze between fence posts and get in with you know who.  Why would he want to do that?  I have no idea.  There were a few skirmishes, but Derecho always came out on top, don’t ask me why.  Because he’s fluffy? Because he looks bigger than he really is?  At any rate, the two have lived together fairly peacefully all winter.

                                      Ranger and Derecho

So, back to my story.  When I opened the gate between the two groups of boys,  they didn’t even notice for quite some time.  I went about doing chores, and after some time had passed, I glanced over and saw that Ranger was right up at the fence, as close as he could be to the girls, the rest of the males back out in the far pasture.  No surprise.

 I then saw Sam put his head to the ground and come charging towards Ranger, followed by all but one of the rest of the males.  Thunderstruck, the oldest, stayed back leaving such nonsense to the younger boys.  They circled Ranger, as if to say “we’ve had enough”, and chased him back to the far pasture.


Derecho meandered up to the fence, taking Ranger’s place, closest to the girls.  None of the other boys seemed to mind.  It seemed to be okay to let the new guy be in charge, without him even having to fight for his position.  Perhaps he is the peacemaker.

                    Derecho Stakes Claim at Fence

I stood and watched awhile longer.  Ranger seemed to be sneaking out of the back pasture, running to the front.   Sam lead the enterage again and corralled Ranger to the back pasture.  I found their behavior to be so interesting, doing only what comes natural to them, to be male alpacas.  There has been no fighting, no screaming, and no blood.  There has been body posturing, ears laid back , and looks that mean business.  Now all five males are living peacefully, together, for now.

Males at Alpaca Meadows

Marty McGee Bennett says, “It is only possible to affect what you can control.  Trying to make males that live together play nicely all day and all night is impossible, even if you were willing to move out into the pasture with them!”

Understanding Male Behavior in the Alpaca is a great article written by Marty and published in Alpaca Magazine.  Marty writes, “Convincing alpacas NOT to engage in natural behaviors is a losing proposition. I think an easier approach to males is to make fighting, or any other problematic behavior, unnecessary.”

Marty McGee Bennett has traveled the world, including two different visits to our farm for training and handling seminars.  She has devoted her professional life to the well-being of camelids and the education of their owners.   CAMELIDynamics is the result of Marty McGee Bennett’s over 30 years of experience with camelids. If you ever get a chance to attend one of her workshops, it is well worth it.  She not only teaches training and management of alpacas, but training of their people!

It seems we’ve always had a bully.  Spirit claimed the title before Ranger.  Keeping a lot of distance between males and females, giving them ample room to establish boundaries they inherently need, spreading food dishes out at feeding time so there is less to squabble about, all help to manage our sometimes rowdy boys and lower the stress level in the male pasture.

Gaywool Dye Instructions

Gaywool dye is formulated specifically for raw or spun natural fibers. Gaywool Originals & Bush Blends are all-in-one acid dyes which have the acid component and the leveling agent essential to stabilize the dye bath at the correct ph level. The formulation includes the mordant and dye bath acidifier and thus includes all that is necessary to produce true to type color fast dyeing.  All dyeing of hand spun yarn should be done in skeins tied loosely in at least four places. It is also essential that they have been washed in a normal laundry detergent to sufficiently remove all traces of grease.

Gaywool Colors Oak, Coal, Nutmeg, Tomato

          Oak, Coal, Nutmeg, Tomato on 100% Suri Alpaca

In the first four minutes, 80% of the dyeing reaction takes place, consequently, it is most important to gently turn the fiber over at regular intervals or lift the fiber clear with a wooden spoon, drain liquid slightly and replace. Fiber then takes in a new mixture of dye and water thus keeping the dyeing even.

Basic Safety

  • Always wear gloves and a particle filter mask when handling dyes.
  • Turn off any fans and close nearby windows when mixing powder or crystal dyes.
  • Make sure your work area is well-ventilated; when cooking your dye baths, be sure to turn on vent fans and open a window.
  • Do not eat, drink or prepare food in your work area while you are preparing dyes.


Though I have not tried all, these are common techniques for dyeing with Gaywool Dyes with occasional notes of my own:

  1. Stove Top Method
  2. Steam Dyeing Method
  3. Microwave Method
  4. Random Dyeing Method
  5. Cold Water Dyeing Methods

1. Stove Top Method 


Dyeing Equipment.

dyeing fiber in dye pots with gaywool dye

Gaywool Original Colors Pumpkin and Plum

Dye Pot – Enamel or Steel
Spoons – Wooden or Plastic
Containers to Mix Dye
Heat Source – Gas Burner, Hotplate, Stove

Weigh fiber and record weight.

  • Weigh dye or use a heaped dessert spoon as an appropriate measure.
  • Rate is half an ounce of dye (12-16gms)  to 3.5oz (100gms) fiber.
  • Wet fiber thoroughly with warm water using a little kitchen detergent.
  • Fill dye bath with enough water to sufficiently cover the fiber.
  • Dissolve dye in hot water and add to dyebath and stir.
  • Add fiber to dye bath, gradually increase the temperature to boil.
  • Gently move the fiber in the dye bath with spoon. Do not stir rapidly as this may cause felting.
  • After 30 minutes (less for paler shades) remove fiber from dye bath into bucket. Rinse in    warm water and dry.

gaywool dye lily


See more about Dyeing In A Dye Pot With Gaywool Dyes

See Suri Fiber that has been dyed Solid Colors with Gaywool Dye.







Gaywool Original Color Lily

2. Steam Dyeing Method


This method is recommended for fibers that are delicate to handle and have a tendency which requires a more careful approach when dyeing at hot temperatures.  The steam set method is ideal to use for slivers, tops, and roving, especially if they have a silk component. This method is also very good to use on the luxury protein fibers such as alpaca, angora or cashmere.

Rovings Drying in Sun

Gaywool Bush Blends Colors Nutmeg and Primrose

Dyeing Equipment.

Dye Pot – Stainless Steel or Enamel with secure lid for steaming. (Do not use a steamer that has been used for food preparation.)
Wire Rack – to fit in dye pot
Spoons – Wooden or Plastic
Containers to Mix Dye
Newspaper – preferably older than a week
Old Towel
Ice Cream Container
Rubber Gloves


Use smaller amount of diluted dye at the start. You can always make the fiber darker by adding more dye. Experiment and record your procedure if trying to replicate your dyeing application.

Try to handle the fiber as little as possible.


Weigh fiber, record weight, and then soak in warm water.

  • Wrap fiber in old towel by using a rolling pin or empty bottle and squeeze out excess water but keep moist.
  • Dilute required amount of dye in a small amount of boiling water/hot water. If the dye does not dissolve well use a fine strainer or nylon stocking and rub the dye until it is completely diluted.
  • Make sure you do not add too much water to the dye. You only need enough dye to pour over the fiber without too much excess.
  • Wet newspaper sheets, (does not need to be too thick but thick enough not to fall apart when steamed).
  • Prepare steamer.
  • Place fiber on top of newspaper and then gently pour diluted dye over the fiber. Alternatively you can place the fiber into an empty plastic ice cream container, pour the dye over the fiber then using a wooden or plastic spoon gently spread the dye through the fiber. Again, another alternative could be to use a syringe to inject the fiber with the dye. After this, take out the fiber (use gloved hands or two large spoons) and wrap in the newspaper.
  • Place newspaper onto rack or steamer pot. Bring steamer to the boil, then simmer between 2-3 hours, gently turning the newspaper every 30 minutes. Make sure you have good rubber gloves on when doing this.
  •  Check pot for water levels regularly and replace when required.
  • After the steaming period has completed, take out fiber and put it in an old towel and into the sink. Use a rolling pin to squeeze out excess dye.
  • Wash fiber gently in warm water and dry.

Note: If you want to experiment using a variegated (rainbow) method, instead of diluting the dye, just sprinkle the dye powder or dye colours over the moist fiber. Wrap in newspaper and steam. Alternatively you could try to wrap the fiber in a plastic bag after you have applied the dye, making sure you do not have too much liquid.

mixing gaywool dye for dye pot

                            Gaywool Dye Original Color Lucerne

When Gaywool Dyes came in plastic jars, one capful of dye per 4 ounces was easy to measure.  If you have any of these jars, save a few caps for easy measuring.

3. Microwave Dyeing Method

Dyeing Equipment.

Plastic Container (ice cream container)
Containers to Mix Dye
Spoons (wooden, plastic or metal for mixing dye)
Rubber Gloves
Face Mask
Microwave Safe Container & Lid – either glass, plastic or ceramic.
Water Jug or Bucket

Exhaust Dyeing……Using one color or a combination of colors.

  • Weigh fiber/fabric and record weight.
  • Soak fiber in warm/hot water until it is thoroughly saturated. The longer you soak the fiber the better the migration of the dye through the fiber.
  • Measure the amount of dye to the weight of fiber. You can use a heaped dessert spoon as an approximate measure or use the rate of 12-16gms or half of an ounce of dye to 100gms/3.5oz fibre. Please note: these measurements are only recommendations. It is up to the individual dyer to adapt and record their own results to replicate and suit their own requirements.
  • Dilute the dye with a small amount of hot water (apx half cup) in a plastic cup or equivalent and stir until the dye and crystals dissolve, creating a dye liquid.
  • To your microwave safe container add enough water to cover the fiber. Add dissolved dye to water and stir thoroughly until dye liquid is evenly distributed.
  • Add wet fiber to container and gently move fiber around in container so that the fiber takes up the dye evenly. After you have done this a few times the fiber will be ready to heat.
  • Heat fiber on high at intervals of 3-5 minutes until the dye exhausts or is close to being exhausted. For the dye to evenly migrate into the fiber it is recommended to turn the fiber 2-3 times during the dyeing process.
  • Check water level and ensure that the fiber/fabric is still covered with water. It helps to pat down the fiber into the dye mixture when checking water level or turning over fiber/fabric.
  • After you are satisfied that the dye has absorbed sufficiently into the fiber/fabric leave the fiber in the container to cool (dye will continue to exhaust).
  • Rinse fiber in luke warm or cold water then hang to dry ( yarn ) or place on table/bench (fiber).
  • As heat settings on microwaves can vary considerably your microwave may be better suited to heat the fibre on a medium setting. It is up to you to discover the best setting which suits your microwave. To duplicate dyeing results it is recommended to record your times and settings.

4. Random Dyeing Method



  •  Soak fiber for up to an hour in hot water.
  •  Place the soaked fiber into the container spreading it out evenly.
  •  Measure dye. If using two colors, allow for half of the dye quantities for each color that you would be using for exhaust dyeing.  Example: half a desert spoon for each color to 3.5oz/100gms fiber. Alternatively, 6-8 gms of each color.
  •  Mix each dye with half to three quarters of a cup of hot water to make your dye solution. Stir dye solution until crystals are dissolved.
  •  Use a syringe to inject the dye or pour dye solution over one end of the fiber & another color over the other end. Aim to leave some undyed fiber in between each color.
  •  Cover container with a microwave safe lid. Place a container of water in the microwave to prevent microwave atmosphere from  drying out. Spread the dye liquid through the fiber by patting down with a spoon.
  •  Heat on high at 2-3 minute intervals. Check moisture levels in container. If it looks too dry add a cup of water to container. Turn  over fiber and add more dye solution if required.
  •  When dyeing is complete take out container, gently take off lid & let fiber cool. When cooled take out fiber and rinse in either lukewarm or cool water and dry.


  •   Cover container with a lid which will let steam escape. If using plastic to cover your container ensuring that you make holes so the steam can escape.
  •   Place a separate container of water in to the microwave  to ensure the microwave atmosphere does not dry out.
  •   Use tongs or two wooden spoons to turn the fiber during dyeing intervals.
  •   If dyeing is uneven or has undyed patches this may be the result of either tying your yarn too tightly or not having your fiber adequately saturated with water. This could result in an insufficient amount of water/dye liquid migrating through the fiber.
  •   If fiber is too light in color with a substantial amount of dye still in the container you may not have heated the fiber for a long  enough period.
  •  If your fiber is the correct color you are aiming for, and you have excess dye left in the container, you may have used too much  dye. Please note that darker colors will not exhaust as well as lighter colors. Exhaustion rates will vary.
  •  You can try sprinkling dye randomly over your saturated fiber instead of using a diluted solution.
  •  Use the Gaywool color card to compare your dyeing results. Most yarns in the color card are dyed with a depth of shade between 1.5 – 2%, which are medium to deep shades. Experiment with different strengths of dyes to understand how each color can produce many shades.
  • Try mixing dyes to make your own new color.


Safety Issues.

  •  Do not use any metal containers or any other metal in your microwave.
  •  Handle hot containers with care. Make sure you let the steam escape from the container before lifting off the lid.
  •  Wear rubber gloves/oven mittens when handling hot containers and dye.
  •  Avoid acid fumes when lifting off lids.
  •  Use an exhaust fan if dyeing in your kitchen and have plenty of fresh air come into the dyeing area.
  •  Cover dyeing area such as tables and benches with newspapers or some other covering to avoid dye contamination.
  •  Keep dyes and all hot equipment out of the reach of children.


5. Cold Water Dyeing Method


      Gaywool Dye Original Colors Musk, Honeycomb, Mulberry

Cold Water Dyeing Using a Shallow Dye Bath

Equipment & Chemicals

Shallow dye bath, plastic, ceramic or metal (suggested size Length 15″ (400ml) , width 11″ (300ml), depth 6″ (150ml)

Rubber gloves
Large spoons
Jug or kettle for hot water.
Urea & dyes. (Urea is a garden fertilizer which can be obtained from garden supplies.)

Quick Method…..45min-1hour.

Weigh fiber & record weight.

Presoak fiber in warm water until the fiber is completely saturated.

Mix urea with boiling water to dissolve  granules completely.  Rate is 100g per 1 litre of water or ratio 1:10.

Add urea solution to fiber and soak for a minimum of 10 minutes.

Fill dye bath with enough  cold water to adequately cover the fiber.

Following directions on dye packet measure specific amount of dye and dissolve in boiling water. Mix dye solution by stirring with a spoon until crystals are completely dissolved.

Add dye to dye bath and stir dye liquid so that is evenly dispersed throughout the dye bath. Add urea mixture left over from soaking.

Add fiber to dye bath and with your gloved hands work the dye into the fiber (very important). Leave dye to sit for between 45mins – 1 hour.

Remove fiber and rinse in warm water and dry.



You will have a good deal of dye residue remaing in the dyebath. We suggest that you use this by added more fiber to take up the remaining dye.  Most colors in the Gaywool originals color range and the deeper colors in the Gaywool Bush Blends would be in this category.

The pastel shades in both the Gaywool Originals & Bush Blends have much less dyestuff and we recommend when dyeing with these colors with this quick method, increase the quantity of dye by 15 to 20%. If you have a dyeing result which is not even we suggest that you add more dye to the dye bath and re-dye, not forgetting to work the dye into the fiber. Make sure that when dyeing skeins to tie loosely in three or four places. This will allow the dye liquid to evenly penetrate the fiber and prevent skeins from tangling.

The use of urea is optional but we do recommend using this as it assists in swelling the fiber to allow the dye to migrate and produce an even dyeing result.

 Please note that this quick cold water method will absorb less dye than the longer 24hr-48 hr method.  Some colors will not absorb the dye solution as well as others but most colors do work well considering the quick dyeing time and lack of heat. This dyeing system does have a flexibility which will enable the fiber craft person to accurately mix and repeat colors knowing that their dyeing results can be quick and easily achieved.

Alternatively … another quick method which only takes 30 – 45 min


Light coloured plastic or stainless steel container or pot (I used a round container a little bigger than my plastic plate)
Chosen dyes
Measuring Spoon
Chosen Fiber
Plastic plate
Weight of some sort (I used a large jar filled with water)


Wet wool and ensure entire skein is damp before wringing out loosely. Dilute the dye as per wool weight ratio in a small amount of hot water first to ensure the granules have dissolved. Add this to the cold water in your container. Stir.  Add fiber to the cold dye bath. Place plastic plate on top of wool and weight on top of plate to ensure the wool remains submerged for the entire dyeing time.

Leave for 30 – 45 min.

Remove wool from dye bath and rinse in cold water until water is clear. After this, with any dye session, I give the wool a quick hand wash using a cold water washing powder and then lay the skein or roving on wire racks to dry. For best results, dry in shade or overnight.



Cold Water Dyeing Using a Shallow Dyebath


Slower Method………………….   Dyeing time 24 to 48 hours 


Weigh fiber & record weight.

Presoak fiber in warm water until the fiber is completely saturated.

Mix urea with boiling water to dissolve  granules completely.  Rate is 100g per 1 litre of water or ratio 1:10.

Add urea solution to fiber & soak for a minimum of 10 minutes.

Fill dye bath with enough  cold water to adequately cover the fiber.

Following directions on dye packet measure specific amount of dye and dissolve in boiling water. Mix dye solution by stirring with a spoon until crystals are completely dissolved.

Add dye to dye bath and stir dye liquid so that is evenly dispersed throughout the dye bath. Add urea mixture left over from soaking.

Add fiber to dye bath and with your gloved hands work the dye into the fiber (very important).

Leave dye to sit for between 24 – 48 hours  in the sun if possible.

Remove fiber and rinse in  cold or warm water. This will depend on the color and the depth of shade you have used.

Hang to dry.



With this cold water method, most Gaywool colors are colorfast, work very effectively, and have the same excellent results as the hot water methods.

Rainbow Dyeing

Raw fleeces may be dyed washed or unwashed. Place fleece in a container, fill with water 3/4 of the way (do not cover the fiber, or the dyes will run together).

While bringing the water close to a boil, sprinkle the dyes at random over the fleece, using compatible colors.

Gently poke the fleece into the water, do not stir, simmer for approximately 30 minutes. Several colors can be used together, e.g. Raspberry and Logwood, Cornflower and Indigo, or just one color using different strengths.


Yarn in skeins can also be dyed using the above directions.

For more muted colors, instead of sprinkling the powder, dilute the powder in boiling water first, then pour or spray.













Gaywool Dyes are easy, dependable, colorfast, earth friendly, cost effective, and they come in so many different colors.  Inspired by the colors of Tasmania, the explanation of the Gaywool name is quite interesting.  It starts with some colorful early history and carriers through to the present day.  Be sure to read Gaywool Dyes Have a Colorful History


Be sure to see:

Two Color Immersion Dyed YarnDyeing Yarn with Kool Aid
How to Dye Speckled Yarn
Shibori Dying with Gaywool Dyes.


Check out these Online Dyeing Classes by Craftsy.


Professional Yarn Dyeing at Home Online Class  Next Steps in Yarn Dyeing Online Class

Gaywool Dyes Have a Colorful History

When it comes to dyeing alpaca, I love Gaywool Dyes!  From Australia,  no additives are required, the mordant and acidifier are already in the Gaywool dye formula.  They are easy, dependable, colorfast, earth friendly, cost effective, and they come in so many different colors.  Inspired by the colors of Tasmania, the explanation of the Gaywool name is quite interesting.  It starts with some colorful early history and carries through to the present day.

Gaywool…… a colorful History

gaywool dye color inspiration

Bay of Fires

Tasmanian Rain Forests

Tulips in the Northwest Coast

Early History

  • In 1807 John Youl, was sent as a layman  preacher to Tahiti in the Pacific islands to work as a missionary.  During this time many of his companions at the mission had come to an unfortunate end and found themselves in hot water with the native population.  Luckily for him, John Youl was not a very well built man. He was tall and skinny.  He had been observed by the natives shaving every morning with his trusty razor. The native Tahitians gave him a chance of survival if he could shave the chief’s beard and also the other men in the village without spilling any blood. This he managed to achieve and some time later, he made  his way to the new colony of New South Wales (Australia).
  • After settling in Sydney, NSW, John Youl became very good friends with Dr. Thomas Arndell.  Dr. Arndell was appointed as the assistant surgeon to the new settlement of NSW. He was one of seven assistant surgeons to Dr. White  on the first fleet to Australia with Governor Phillip.  He was later appointed as surgeon at Paramatta.  Because of this friendship, the name Arndell, was incorporated into John Youl’s family name.  In 1810,  John Youl married Jane Loder and they named their first son James Arndell Youl.
  • In 1815 John Youl was ordained as an Angligan priest.  In 1818 he was  commissioned by Earl Bathurst to become the first chaplain at Port Darymple, Northern Van Diemens Land (Tasmania). Reverend Youl and his family arrived in Van Diemens Land in 1818 to start work in the new Parish.
  •  James Arndell Youl became a successful grazier but is best remembered for introducing trout and salmon to Australasian waters.  Early attempts in 1841 and 1852 of transporting ova from England to Australia had failed and also shipments in 1860 and 1862 but finally in 1864, with the help of many people, thousands of ova were packed in moss and stored in the ship’s ice-vault, and the living ova arrived safely in Tasmania.

Foreward to the late 1960’s

  • The family connection to Dr. Arndell continued and in 1967 Gillian Arndel Youl (married name Thomas), a farmer and enthusiastic hand spinner of wool started a business specializing in breeding colored sheep for hand spinners and weavers.  To start her flock she initially purchased sheep from other farmers in the district.  She started her breeding program with 10 throwback corriedale ewes.  She then purchased a Border Leicester Ram in order to obtain a long fleece. Over a period of time she built her flock of sheep and her business and also started her own shop.  Her customers were far and wide and the wool was sent to many parts of Australia and also to the United States, Canada and Holland. Gill also became the first distributor of Ashford Spinning wheels in Tasmania.
  • With her family involved in the business her son Chris, suggested that there should be even more color in the business and with the assistance of an Industrial Chemist, Barry Harding from Coats Patons Launceston developed some easy to use, quality dyes for the home dyer. In 1974 the dyes were first packed and distributed in an old shearing shed on the family farm Gayfield, Longford Tasmania.  Years later the dyes were now being sent and distributed to many parts of the world including, the USA, Canada, United Kingdom and Japan.

The  name of the business came from the initials of Gillian Arndell Youl (GAY).  Her husband was Richard Field Thomas and the business was originally called Gayfield Wool and then later changed to Gaywool.

Gaywool Dyes continues to be in the family with the name of Arndell given to some family members.  Gill is now in her 80’s and her enthusiasm and energy for life is admired by her many family and friends.

Check out the original story published in Australian Womens Weekly 1976.

Gaywool Dyes at Alpaca Meadows


Alpaca Meadows offers the Gaywool Dye Originals …

…and the Gaywool Dye Bush Blends.

Gaywool Dye Instructions

Cleaning Suri Alpaca Fiber for Doll Wigs

I’ve been going to write a post for quite some time, maybe even do a video, on cleaning suri alpaca fiber for doll wigs.  This morning I ran across the following video on that very topic, and it is using some of our own suri fiber!  To be more specific, it is white fiber from an alpaca named Miss Miami.  Credit goes to Beth Alvarez, whose YouTube channel is Lomi’s Playground.  If you do a search for “alpaca” on her channel, you can see all the videos Beth has made on using alpaca for doll wigs.

In each of our pastures, there is a bare spot where our alpacas like to roll.  It must really feel good, but they do get very dusty.  The suri fiber we sell gets tumbled which helps get out much of the dust, then rinsed multiple times.  As you can see in the video, there still is some muddy water when washing it again.  Each step of the processing is a step towards cleaner fiber.

miss miami suri alpaca

This is our sweet Miss Miami, though we have sold her and she no longer lives on our farm. We were visiting our son in college at Miami University, when Miss Miami was born, hence the reason for her name!

suri alpaca fiber miss miami

And this is her beautiful fiber!

Be sure to check out our Suri Fiber, both in raw form and separated into locks for you.  Visit Lomi’s Playground to see more videos by Beth on using Suri Fiber for doll wigs!


Be sure to see:

Using Suri Fiber for Doll Hair
Tips for Purchasing Suri Fiber for Doll Hair
How to Make a Suri Alpaca Doll Wig
Doll Makers – Customer Gallery




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