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.

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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.

https://vimeo.com/49124784

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 Black Alpaca Blend Yarn

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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!

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, and then come back and purchase the yarn you need here by clicking one of the above links!

Free Crochet Patterns for Fingering Weight Yarn

 

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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

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Alpaca Meadows