28 September 2012

Diablo’s Ribbons

Almost a year ago, I was asked if I would take a prize-winning alpaca fleece, clean it, prepare it for spinning, spin it into yarn, and knit a shawl in time for a competition this fall.

It started out like this:

Well, actually that’s after washing and drying and sorting, and it’s a lot of fleece. That bucket is squished full, as is the tall bag beside it. Gorgeous stuff.

The fibre for the shawl was combed on big hand combs, then spun on spindles. That was my Tour de Fleece adventure:

I took the plied yarn with me on our recent holiday, thinking it was probably time to get a good start on the shawl. While we were away, I got an email letting me know the deadline for entries was about three weeks sooner than I’d anticipated!

I cast on. :)

It’s been a hard go getting this done – not because the pattern I chose was extremely difficult or anything (I had designed a custom pattern for this last winter, swatched and charted and everything, so I was ready to go) … but my brain seemed to refuse to grasp what we were doing and I had to really, really concentrate to get it right.

Yesterday, at long last, I was able to bind off.

I was not at all happy with the look of the finished shawl … it was just a gray blob. Very sad looking. However, I was pretty confident that the miracle of blocking would save the day and …

It worked.

The lace at the bottom edge is meant to look like the rosettes that the winning animals are given in the show:

The shawl is a semicircle, half a pi shawl:

The very beautiful animal who contributed his fleece is named Diablo, and he has won lots of ribbons (his fleece from this year took first at Olds, I saw it on the table and said “hey, I know him!”), and his People are very proud of him.

Diablo is from Tail Spin Alpacas, just west of St Albert … I met him when I was looking for a welder to repair one of our post pounders, and when I got out of the truck to deliver the broken metal to the nice man waiting for me in the driveway, I saw all these adorable alpaca and nearly forgot why I was there. I was invited to come spin at their alpaca show, and the rest is history.

So, Diablo, this one’s for you. Hope you like it.


  1. Anonymous11:29 am

    Oh Lonna - it is so beautiful! I love that you photographed it outside and yes, I've stayed close to the computer today so I could see it "first".
    Good luck in the competition!

  2. Anonymous12:32 pm

    That's far, far from a grey blob, Lonna. It's truly beautiful. And such a big job on spindles. So special -- a winner for sure!

  3. Wind in Her Hair aka Susan2:41 pm

    Congratulations on yet another amazing masterpiece!

  4. I particularly love the way the edge "crinkles" the way it hangs. Very nice! And the grey is a beautiful warm colour, not a blob at all.

  5. Thanks, all!

    It really DID look like a gray blob when it came off the needles - the transformation that happens in blocking is so amazing!

    Alpaca has gorgeous drape, which is why I specifically chose a design with a bit of flare at the base (where the ribbons are), they'll move and shift and show off the texture. That's also why I prefer to do a lot of plain stockinette in alpaca shawls - the plain knitting really shows off the finished fabric, sometimes that gets lost if you do a lot of open work or lace. :)

    Here's hoping it's invited to the competition - we submit images and the top five in each category are invited to bring the actual item for judging. Fingers crossed!


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