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.

27 September 2012


Today, I:
- finished the alpaca shawl and got it washed and blocking on the bed
- drum carded all the remaining alpaca fleece so I have big batts ready to spin
- led the calf on a lead rope for the second time
- mailed out the last of our first order of Malcolm Fielding spindles (more are coming!)
- took the first round of what's supposed to be Parmesan cheese out if the brine
- spun one very full CPW bobbin full of gray alpaca while watching Babylon 5
- had warm milk with brown sugar for bedtime snack.

Shawl pictures tomorrow.

25 September 2012

Apologies for the long silence...

... I'm still recovering from our trip, and knitting as fast as I can. This alpaca shawl has to be done in just a couple more days!

23 September 2012

05 September 2012

Travel knitting

The Reluctant Farmer and I are heading out on a bit of a road trip tomorrow morning: we are going to visit his parents (yes, I actually like m in-laws a lot) and on our way back we plan to take a couple of extra nights to see some parts of the province we’ve not visited before.

Of course, this means I need to pack travel knitting.

I have the alpaca yarn I’ve spun, which needs to be transmogrified into a shawl by November, as well as the pattern I designed loaded onto my eReader for ready reference.

I have stitch markers, and my tapestry needles. I have scissors, interchangeable needles, and my DPNs.

I also have sock yarn (enough for 3 pair of socks – this might be ambitious, but I really don’t know for sure). I even took the big balls of sock yarn and wound them into two smaller balls, evenly divided, so I’d know I have this much yarn for each sock. I’m also taking this book along:

My friend gave this to me at Fibre Week a couple of years back and I’ve been meaning to try some “real patterned socks” ever since. Now seems like a good time!

I’m starting with Spey Valley, as almost all the sock yarn I have is self patterning in some fashion or other and I figured a fairly simple sock design was best. This sock has a really neat horizontal chain of stitches in a couple of spots up by the cuff, done in a rather ingenious fashion that is sort of like binding off without binding off. I love learning new tricks.

Progress so far (it was important to be sure it was a workable project before embarking on the journey):

Seems to be working with the patterning yarn so far. We’ll see how it is once we get a little further along!

03 September 2012

Pretty copper things

I’ve been dealing with a bit of a “mental health flu” – nothing too serious, just enough to make me feel a bit off balance and short of words.

So, I will share some pictures instead. These are some lovely new hand made copper shawl pins that a local artisan makes – we have them in the Flannelberry Creek store, and they are just lovely!

Just the thing to hold your shawl or scarf in place. Light weight, with a natural finish that will age to an interesting patina over time.

As I was putting up the listings, there was one lovely spiral piece that simply refused to upload the image … even after trying three or four times. I took that as a sign that this particular one must want to belong to me. :)