What is a Ruana?

So what is a Ruana, anyway?  Quite fitting, both alpacas and ruanas are originally from the Andes region of South America. The word Ruana means “Land of Blankets”.  Simply put, it is a blanket you can wear!  Usually they are thick, soft, sleeveless, and about knee length.  The shape is square or rectangular, with a slit for your head and the front piece split down the middle to drape over the shoulders.

 

Garnet Gem Ruana

Ruanas are quite easy to throw on and take off, and add an extra layer of warmth without having to be all buttoned up as you would in a coat.  They can also be worn over a winter coat for extra warmth and style.   Ruanas are great for dressing up, or dressing down.

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Free Crochet Pattern – Chris Cross Snuggle Scarf

I ran across a crochet pattern that I really liked, used a different yarn than what the pattern called for, tweaked it a little, and I’m quite happy with the results.  I love the texture that is created with a combination of front and back crossed double crochet stitches.  Sound hard?  Not really, once you understand the stitch and get going with it.  The pattern is worked lengthwise so this scarf can be made whatever length and width you’d like.   For a longer scarf start with more foundation chain stitches.  For a wider scarf add more rows in the pattern repeat.

Free Crochet Pattern – Chris Cross Snuggle Scarf with Tutorials on Crocheting Crossed Double Crochet Stitches

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Small Business Saturday Prize Program Starts Monday

Small businesses in Richland County will be participating in the Small Business Saturday program, and Alpaca Meadows is one of them!  The program will kick-off this coming Monday, November 25th and you’ll have chances to win prizes all week long.  So we’ll be closed on Thanksgiving next week, but we’ll be open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 12pm-4pm.

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Free Crochet Patterns for Bulky Weight Yarn

Enjoy my collection of crochet patterns, none of them mine, but rather my favorites by other talented designers.  Each pattern calls for bulky weight yarn and would be perfect for our Snuggle Yarn.  This yarn is currently available in many solid colors, as well as a handful of hand-dyed tonal multi-colors that coordinate with one or more of the solid colors.  Snuggle is a wonderful lofty alpaca blend yarn that feels light and has an incredibly soft hand. Free Crochet Patterns for Buly Weight Yarn

Created for those who like immediate gratification, or perhaps need some quick gifts for Christmas.  Start scrolling … and enjoy!

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Free Knitting Pattern – Simple Autumn Mittens

Usually, I crochet, but I saw this knitting pattern for Simple Autumn Mittens by Halldora J on Ravelry and thought I just must share it. I love the feminine, lacy, pattern … don’t they just look soft and wonderful?

 

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Remembering Louie

Losing a pet is difficult, making the decision to euthanize a beloved member of our family, even more difficult. Many of you knew Louie. He was our farm greeter. He loved being outside in the middle of things when we had an event at our farm. People asked for him. If I was having a class and he wasn’t with us, people would ask where he was, and I would have to go get him. Families would bring children to our farm, and they enjoyed our alpacas, but even more so they loved Louie. And Louie loved the attention. To the annoyance of some, he loved me, and wanted to be wherever I was, sometimes crying and whining until he could be with me. He would sit on a table underneath the front window of our house, and wait for me to get home. Apparently he even knew the sound of my car coming down our gravel driveway, and would cry to be let outside to come greet me. As a puppy, neighbors would have to bring him home because if I would leave, he would take off to come find me. I would imagine that’s how he ended up at the pound, where we found him. I think there must have been someone else that he loved before me.

2012

This picture was taken seven years ago, long before he started going downhill, losing control of his back legs, and all the other sad things that followed. It was amazing how he still got around, having to drag his back legs behind him. Should I have made this decision sooner? Maybe. He didn’t seem to be in pain, still seemed to enjoy being outside in the sunshine, with me in the bunny shed, or laying at my feet wherever I was. When I realized he couldn’t stand on his own more than a minute, I knew it was time.

A dear friend sent me the following, titled “A Dog’s Plea”. I hope it might help you should you ever be faced with a tough decision involving a pet.

Treat me kindly, my beloved friend, no heart in all the world is more grateful for kindness than the loving heart of me. Do not break my spirit with a stick, for though I might lick your hand between blows, your patience and understanding will more quickly teach me things you would have me learn.

Speak to me often, for your voice is the world’s sweetest muci, as you must know by the firece wagging of my tail when your footsteps fall upon my waiting ear. Please take me inside when it is cold and wet, for I am a domesticated animal, no longer accustomed to bitter elements. I ask no greater glory than the privilege of sitting at your feet beside the hearth. Keep my pan filled with fresh water, for I cannot tell you when I suffer thirst.

Feed me clean food that I may stay well to romp and play and do your bidding, to walk by your side, and stand ready, willing and able to protect you with my life, should your life be in danger. And. ,u friend, when I am very old, and I no longer enjoy good health, hearing and sight, do not make heroic efforts to keep me going. I am not having any fun. Please see that my trusting life is taken gently. I shall leave the earth knowing with the last breath I draw that … my fate was always safest in your hands.

I love this picture, though he always managed to squirm out of the sweater.

Laying in the sun in our gravel drive must have felt good to him, knowing I was nearby.

I’m imagining he’s been reunited with his good friend Lizzie, and all the other family pets that have gone before him … Sammie, Babe, Marshall, Chelsea, and Bojangles.

R.I. P. Louie … I love you!

Morning Chores

My husband is gone this week, so I’m doing double duty while he’s away, his work and mine. Along with shipping orders and a number of other things that he normally takes care of, I’m doing the morning chores. I should rephrase this … I get to do the morning chores! There are definitely days I’d trade the time I sit in front of the computer a good share of the day, for the stress relieving, sometimes down and dirty, tasks of caring for our animals.

Alpacas Eating

The squeaky wheel gets the grease is a phrase used to convey the idea that the most noticeable (or loudest) problems are the ones most likely to get attention, and that’s true when it comes to our Angora goats. Quieting the bleating of our three goats, Mike, Ike, and Lola comes first. They act like they are starving, and I can hardly get the feed in the tubs as they push each other out of the way. Not very mannerly.

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The Christmas Mouse

First let me introduce a NEW Felted Creation, my Christmas Mouse! It may be way early for this post, but I sure have heard about Christmas in July a time or too, so I think I’m okay at least for today. My cute little mouse was needle felted, meaning I administered lots and lots of pokes with a barbed needle, using alpaca and wool wrapped around a fiber core. His arms are movable, his tail bendable, and he sports a Santa suit and hat complete with fur trim.

 

I’m also offering a class to make this cheery fellow, for those you that live in Ohio or not too far away. New classes always fill up quickly, so don’t delay registering for the Christmas Mouse Needle Felting Class.

I had a lot of fun creating this little guy, and love him even more, after reading this story of “The Christmas Mouse” by the editors of Publications International, Ltd.

The fun and laughter disappeared when the family sold this big house.

Walter Whiskers was a sad little mouse. This big house was his home. In fact, he had lived in a mouse hole in this very same house since he was a tiny mousekin himself. His little mouse hole had always been a warm, cozy place. And there was always plenty to eat — at least, up until a few months ago. Then, the family that lived here moved out.

Now there were no children in the house, no music or parties or fun anymore. And there were no good things to eat. Walter sighed, thinking how much he missed it all. Walter lived in the house with his wife, Wanda Whiskers, and their four mousekin children, Willie, Warner, Wilma, and little Winifred.

They used to be well-fed and happy, because there were always scraps of food to pick up off the kitchen floor or from under the dining room table. And there were usually delicious tidbits to be found behind the kitchen stove. But now, Walter and his family grew each day more hungry and cold. And to top it all off, Christmas was coming! What was Walter to do?

After the big house was sold, Walter Whiskers, his wife, and his poor little mousekins were left with nothing to eat.

Then, just two days before Christmas, something happened. Wanda shook Walter awake early. “What is that noise!” she exclaimed. They heard banging and shouting right outside their mouse hole door. Walter ran to the door and looked out. There were people moving into their house!

Rugs and chairs and a large green sofa were being carried into the big living room. And a huge piano was taking up one whole corner. As Walter watched, three children ran in. They were laughing and looking around excitedly. One of them said, “Oh, I’m going to love our new house!”

Walter called for his whole family to come and see the sight. Wanda and all the little mousekins were delighted to have a new family moving into their house. “Now there will be plenty of food for us, and our mouse hole will be warm again,” Walter told Wanda and the children. “It will be just like in the old days, you’ll see.”

As Walter and the mousekins watched the new family moving in, they knew there would be plenty of food and warmth to go around.

 

But Walter didn’t know what a terrible commotion and racket all that furniture moving would make! The whole mouse hole shook with the noise. The floor seemed to dance. And that night, there was still no food for the little mice. But the next morning, the Whiskers family woke up to heavenly smells. And there was nice, warm air coming into the mouse hole.

Today was Christmas Eve, and the new family was getting ready for its celebration. That afternoon, Walter sniffed a different smell. He peeked out of the mouse hole, and again he called Wanda and the little mousekins to come and look.

The family was putting up a huge, beautiful Christmas tree! It reached all the way to the tall ceiling. And they were decorating it with sparkling lights and balls of all colors. At the top of the tree was a gold star.

The new owners of the big house decorate the tree for a fun-filled Christmas celebration.

That night, after the children had hung up their stockings and gone to bed, Walter and his family crept out into the living room to have a look around. They saw the most amazing sight! “Look, Papa,” cried little Winifred. There, running all the way around the Christmas tree, was a tiny toy train — just their size. It had a big red-and-orange engine, with three cars — blue, green, and orange — behind it, plus a red caboose at the end.

The tracks for the train went over a bridge and around a toy mountain. Beside the train was a tiny toy village. There were trees and shops and even a mouse-size house. Walter and his family could scarcely believe their eyes. Walter said, “I know what we must do. Let’s have a Christmas party of our own!” “Oh, yes!” cried all the little mousekins.

At that, Wanda ran back into the mouse hole to get some old beads she had been saving. The mice hung the beads on a tiny tree to decorate it. They were of beautiful colors and looked like shiny balls on the little tree.

Then Willie remembered some apple seeds he had. The mousekins strung them together to make more decorations for the tree. Wanda even cut a scrap of gold paper in the shape of a tiny star to put on top. Now they had their very own Christmas tree!

Then Walter went into the dining room where the family had eaten its Christmas Eve dinner. He gathered crumbs from beneath the table. There were bits of delicious cheese, scraps of tasty bread, and even tiny morsels of cake. What a feast the Whiskers family had!

Walter Whiskers and the moueskins just knew the train would be a perfect fit — so, they hopped aboard for a ride!

Finally, Walter said, “We must have one last treat to celebrate our good fortune. We will all take a ride on the train. And I will be the engineer.” So Walter climbed up into the train’s engine, while Wanda and the little mousekins piled into the cars behind. Willie insisted on sitting in the caboose. And they rode all the way ’round and ’round the Christmas tree!

Finally, Walter said, “It is time for all you little mousekins to be in bed. We have had the best Christmas celebration ever!” “Oh, yes, Papa!” cried Willie and Warner and Wilma and Winifred.

Next morning, the children of the house ran downstairs to see their stockings. They looked at the train and toy village. The tiny tree had Christmas decorations on it. And there were small crumbs scattered around. Little paw prints led to the train.

Their father smiled and said, “It looks as if someone else enjoyed our Christmas, too. Why, I believe we have our very own Christmas mouse!”

On Christmas Day, the family was happy to discover that the Christmas mouse had been there.

Deep inside his mouse hole, Walter Whiskers smiled. He was thinking of last night’s Christmas treat and of the many wonderful Christmases to come.

See original post here.

Purchase my Christmas Mouse here!

What I’ve Learned About Angora Rabbits

Several years ago at the Autumn Fiber Festival, I acquired my first Angora rabbit, a French Angora rabbit that we named Fitzgerald. I had thought Angora rabbits would be a nice addition to our farm. After all, we have a herd of alpacas, and three Angora goats (more on them later), and I love working with natural fiber. The Angora breed is very sweet, quite docile, has a calm-nature, and I had been thinking about it for awhile, so it wasn’t all that spontaneous, if you think about it. Convincing my husband wasn’t all that hard. I mean why not?

Fitzgerald

I liked the fact that I could brush him/her and collect the fiber, which is called Angora, for spinning. No harm to the bunny. It’s therapeutic really to brush a super soft bunny that’s sitting in your lap. I’ve learned that some breeds of Angora rabbits typically go through a shedding cycle called molting a few times per year. The wool will start to release and can easily be removed by “plucking” it off or simply by grooming with a comb. This is the preferred method for people who are harvesting the wool for spinning because when you use shears, the guard hairs get mixed in with the wool, and you have many different lengths of fiber. 

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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!

 

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Alpaca Meadows