Friday, July 30, 2010

Fiber Arts Friday - A Friend Who Spins is an Awesome Friend

Welcome to Fiber Arts Friday!  This week it's been all about Alpacas, Fiber Sorting, Spinning and Knitting and pretty much in that order.  I do get to add another item to the list though...Angora Rabbits.  The Bears and I are going to get our bunnies today.  Yes, I know...another animal to take care of but these adorable little creatures will give me lovely fiber that will be blended with my Suri Alpaca.  Ah Ha, you say, I get it now.
Midnight Magic's Mystery and the Wonder Why Gal at AOBA Nationals
As for Tour de Fleece momentum is still strong.  I have completed a few more hanks of yarn for the Wine and Wool Festival Where I will be a vendor at tomorrow. Check it out, if you are in Jackson.  Really, I've blogged enough about Wine and Alpaca to let you know that those two are a heavenly mix.  

I have also been spinning a present for a fellow farm.  4 Musketeers Alpacas in Bellevue, Michigan co-owns my Huacaya herdsire, Midnight Magic's Mystery and they have been both great friends and an amazing farm to co-own an animal with.  They've been in the industry just a few years longer than me and they are a wonderful resource when I have questions.  I spin and they don't so I wanted to give them a little gift to thank them for being so awesome.  I am using some of the fiber from our Mystery to make them some yarn they can use to display. His fiber is amazing both on and off him.  His fineness, uniformity of crimp and brightness are all exceptional for being a four year old black male.  If I get ambitious I might even knit a swatch up but...most likely they will get just the yarn.  Most of his fleece is being processed at the mill but I saved a bit for this gift because this will be 100% Huacaya and I typically produce blends for sale.

4 Muskateers also have a herdsire who they co-own with another farm that is amazing.  His name is Shiloh and I refer to him as the "Berber Carpet Boy" because of his density and high amplitude crimp.  I asked if I could spin them yarn out of his fleece because I am curious how his fleece spins up because of the amplitude. Will it spin differently?  Does it create a yarn more similar to wool because of the "air pocket" it will create? How does that extreme density and crimp that gets all those ribbons in the show ring transfer to the finished good?  These are my questions.

Of all the Huacaya fleeces I've sorted or simply had my hands on during farm visits or shows, his is in a class totally different from most Alpacas.  His strength is his density and crimp.  His crias that are on the ground are unbelievable so I know he can bring it on.  Working with both of their fleeces has been wonderful and educational.  I'm not done yet so...I won't tell my verdict yet until I finish my own Spin Off competition which is involved 4-8oz hanks of yarn.

After the Angoras, today will involve more fiber sorting.  I got behind due to the heat and humidity so I need to get back into my groove. What adventures or experiments in fiber arts did you have?
Fiber Arts Friday Blog Carnival!

To participate:

  1. Submit your blog article using your current blog address NOT your complete blog  i.e. you would submit  
  1. Link back to Fiber Arts Friday from your post so that your readers can come and see everyone else’s projects! Text link to  WISDOM BEGINS IN WONDER!   
  2. Visit as many of the other participants as possible and leave comments! That’s what helps us all connect!
Check out these cool blogs:

Monday, July 26, 2010

Tour de Fleece 2010 - Team of Wonder

The Tour de Fleece is over... 
I'm going to keep up my momentum and attempt to spin a bobbin a day...ok, the Bears just gave me the look so I am going to attempt to spin at least 30 minutes a day.  During the Summer it will be easy because sitting by the pool spinning does have benefits. I can spin, lifeguard for the Bears plus watch the Alpacas graze in the pasture.

I thought it fitting to take the photo of my Tour de Fleece photos by the pool since I did so much of my spinning there during the month.  Grumpy was worried that the yarn would take a dive into the pool but I assured him that they were safe on the dragon floaty.  Really, look at the smile on that dragon.  He isn't dangerous at all.

I calculated my totals and I spun 1.72 miles of two ply yarn in a total of 16 hanks during the Tour de Fleece.  If you break it down to the singles then I completed 3033 yards for each single which then hits closer to 3 miles of yarn.  Not too shabby when you figured I also was sorting fleece for the NAAFP, running the farm and our other business plus trying to save the world.

I learned during the Tour de Fleece that my puppy, Lego, loves yarn, bobbins, and roving.  We need to train that little stinker that my handspun is not a toy.

The Team of Wonder was an amazing group and I learned so much from everyone.  I hope that our fun during the Tour de Fleece inspires the rest of the team to keep up the spinning momentum. 

Remember, you never forget how to ride a bike but...sometimes training wheels help as you get back in the groove.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Rabbit by any other name is a Rat!

I was heading out to the barn around 8:30pm to check on the Alpaca herd. With this heat and humidity I wanted to make sure that their water buckets were full, fans were in a good position and scoop any poo I could for fly control.  As I walked passed the pool I heard a SPLASH!  Not a big human cannon ball splash but a creepy nasty rodent splash.

A young rabbit had decided my pool was a good place to get a drink and fell it.  EWWWW!  Little Bunny Foo Foo is NOT supposed to be in my pool.  Well, I did what any good blogger and photographer would do.  I captured it with the pool net then took photos.  That was after I had Grumpy help because a wet rabbit looks like nasty vermin.

We released it on the other side of the chicken coop hoping that our barn cats, Friend and Furball, wouldn't bring them to me as a prize because in the last two weeks they have left two headless rabbits in the doorway of the barn for this flip flop wearing Alpaca Owner to find.  double EWWW!

So that's my adventure with Little Bunny Foo Foo who, if he doesn't watch it, won't be hopping through the Wonder Forest anymore.

In other Alpaca related news, my friend and fellow Alpaca Owner of 4 Musketeers Alpacas in Bellevue, Dave Bates, came down to help us with some biting teeth that needed removal.  When Alpacas get to be around 3-4 years old they get canine looking teeth in the back of their mouths.  Typically, once you cut them or grind them out they don't grow back.  Well, I have a couple of boys, who also fight all the time, and actually wounded each other so I asked Alpaca Dave to help us out. 

Three people are always better than two when it comes to restraining a 150 pound animals to cut teeth, especially when one of those three does it quite regularly.  Thank you, Dave, for helping us out.
We used a dremel tool too take the teeth down. 
Sister Bear thought we needed to brush the Alpaca's teeth.  
I agreed but we stuck to working on the biting teeth.

While the boys were down I clipped toenails.  I couldn't believe how much they have grown since May 25 when I last clipped them.  Last year I only clipped toenails 3 times during the year.  I know, now, that certain Alpacas in my herd need their toenails trimmed every couple of months...Yikes!

I also was busy spinning this weekend.  I spun up 8oz of Polyworth Wool dyed by Briar Rose and 8oz of 100% Suri Alpaca dyed by the Wonder Why Gal.  Wait! That's me! Today, on the last day of the Tour de Fleece, I will ply my bobbins into two beautiful two-ply yarns.

On a final note, here is the sunset from last night.  The photo didn't capture the color quite like I hoped came darn close.

Enjoy your Sunday...I sure plan to!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Fiber Arts Friday - Tour de Fleece Challenge II

Welcome to Fiber Arts Friday, the Tour de Fleece Edition!  Today I'm going to show off some pictures from the most challenging day of the Tour de Fleece 2010.  I attempted to spin beads into my yarn and...I succeeded.  Now I want to shop for some pretty beads and to add with my yarn.
I had to make a few modifications on how I would spin the beads into the yarn because my standard flyer didn't want to accept my beads so I spun my singles like I always do then before I plyed the yarn I threaded the beads onto on of the bobbins.
The difference between the Lendrum Jumbo Flyer and Standard Flyer.  
The Standard Flyer packed so full it wouldn't spin anymore.
As I started to ply I would let the yarn "grab" a bead and I would adjust the plying on each side to secure the bead.  I only spun 20 yards this way because I didn't want to commit to a full hank in case it didn't work plus I could only find so many clear beads in the Bear's craft bin and I wanted it to look nice.

I also used beads with letters on them.  They spell out WONDER WHY ALPACA FARM.  I gave myself a lead area with no beads so maybe instead of selling the 270 yards I plyed with no beads, I will keep it to start a hat then used my beaded yarn as an accent to promote the farm.

Tomorrow is the last day of the Tour de Fleece.  I'm going to keep up the momentum I created during this July event to make more yarns to sell at the various Fiber Festivals I will be at this year.  The spinning wheel is my happy place so why not.  Now, let's here what adventures in Fiber Arts you had this week!
Fiber Arts Friday Blog Carnival!

To participate:

  1. Submit your blog article using your current blog address NOT your complete blog  i.e. you would submit  
  1. Link back to Fiber Arts Friday from your post so that your readers can come and see everyone else’s projects! Text link to  WISDOM BEGINS IN WONDER!   
  2. Visit as many of the other participants as possible and leave comments! That’s what helps us all connect!
Check out these cool blogs:

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Tour de Fleece - Challenge Day

Today is the big challenge day for the Tour de France where they hit the big hills.  The Tour de Fleece has a similar challenge to spin something that is hard for you or that you've never tried before.  I decided to try spinning beads into my yarn after Jennifer over at Wind Rose Fiber Studio showed us some simple steps.

I went one step further and decided I would try to spin my farm name into the yarn because hey...I promised I'd challenge myself.

What I didn't realize is that the beads I picked don't fit through the guides on my flyer.

My Orifice is fine but...the beads won't go through the guides.

So, I am spinning the two singles and I will attempt to add the beads on at the plying stage when I switch over to the amazing Jumbo Flyer that Lendrum makes.

I mean, how hard could it be?  It's not like a full grown adult trying to ride a child's bike is it?
Uh, Oh!  Well...tomorrow I plan to post some pics for Fiber Arts Friday.  I I had better get off this laptop and get cranking.  If you hear screams of'll know where they are coming from.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Binder Park Zoo Giraffes

My nieces enjoyed the Giraffes at the Binder Park Zoo African Safari Exhibit
I enjoyed their giggles and smiles.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Tour de Fleece - The Beginning of the End

It's the last week of the Tour de Fleece.  I'm sad because it's been fun to have a team to share ideas and concerns with.  Maybe I can keep the Team of Wonder going even after the Tour de Fleece is finished?  Actually, all good athletes know that you don't stop practicing once the season is over so I hope we will keep the spirit up for the remainder of the year.

This weekend I started spinning up some 100% Suri Roving that I dyed orange out of TradeWind.  I currently have my beautiful Morning Mist up at Wind Walker Ranch breeding to him.  They lovely Dark Rose Gray came from her.  Just think, those two beautiful bobbins of yarn that were carfully plyed together are from the two beautiful Suri Alpacas that are making a beautiful cria for the 2011 Summer.  Ok, I'm  a bit more choked up than you but I love the fleece from both of these beautiful creatures and I adore them too so...I get to enjoy their union a wee bit earlier than next summer.

I debated about combing their fiber up together then spinning but decided on singles instead,  The knitted look is so beautiful when the two colors pop that I have been spinning a bunch of yarn that way plus I get bored if I have to spin too many bobbins full of the same fluff in a row.

This yarn, like many others, will be traveling to shows and festivals with me this season.  Hopefully I will sell them and they won't travel with me too long but if not, I already have ideas of projects to make out of them.  If you buy one or two or more (hint, hint) I will even share the intentions of my yarn with you.

Now...back to the drawing board. I have more Tour de Fleece Yarn to spin.  I have one week left including the Day of Rest on Wednesday and the Challenge Day on Thursday.  I've decided Thursday's Challenge will be spinning bead into my yarn thanks to the advice of Wind Rose Fibers.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Think Alpaca, You'll Be an Alpaca?

I have been a bad Team Leader for the Team of Wonder the last two days. I haven't done a lot of spinning (when you consider I've been finishing a hank a day) but I have been sorting fleeces for production and saving the world (or at least conservation) by attending the Binder Park Zoo's Corks for Conservation.

This is the second year the Corks for Conservation event has taken place and this year three of my peeps from the Zombie Prom Date Knitters joined me.  We got to taste many wines from various vineyards and eat lots of Panera Bread, sandwiches and Bruschetta (I love me some bruchetta) plus they had a silent auction.

One of the evening's highlights was the Llama  who was packing corks to be used for the 50/50 drawing.  Now I can't resist a Camelid, especially one that is so charming.  I tried telling him that if he thinks Alpaca he might be an Alpaca but alas, I got a hold of his fiber (it's a compulsion of mine) and decided that it was not spin worthy.  Of course not, he's a Pack Llama.  He also refused to be my designated driver...go figure.
I lost the silent auction bids that I had worked so hard to win.  Really!  I was ready to stand up because I had won my bid on the Beadle Lake Road Large Vet Clinic item of 4 xrays for large animals.  Well, duh, I have large animals on the farm and how many other people visiting could say the same...apparently at least one..  I lost by $5 and she must have sneaked up to the table in that last minutes drive...bummer.  I also lost the bid for an Overnight Family Stay at the Kalamazoo Nature Center.  Lost that by $2 and I should complain because we were supposed to bid in increments of $5.  Oh, well...we were raising money for charity, right?

These are the unlucky numbers of the night 101 and 192.
Tell that to Holly B.  She was tickets to Disney World and an amazing visit from the ZooMobile to a group of 100 kids.  Now the rock star that she is will be donating that to her Pig's elementary school for an education assembly.    She really is awesome!

The other highlight of the evening was the Jacob living at the zoo.  I have walked through the Children's Zoo a bazillion times in my life, I even worked at the zoo the year I graduated from high school, I never noticed the Jacob.  Why didn't I?   Jacob fleece spins up so wonderfully.  So I hunted down one of my favorite Zoo Keepers...who happened to be hanging out with the Llama,  and asked what the Zoo did with the fleece. 

They throw it away!  Argh!  Why? Why? Why?  "Because it's course...."  Well, do you spin?  Do you know anything about fleece?  "Nope"  Okie Dokie, here's my card and please, please, please call me when you shear.  I will look at the fleece and I will tell you if it's bad.  DON'T THROW IT AWAY!!!!!!  That was the gist of the conversation.  You know I'm going to be all over the Zoo to give me the fleece.  I told the Zoo if the fleece was good I would spin up yarn to give the Zoo, heck, I'd knit  something for them too.   Just don't throw away the fleece.

Did you know a Fairie dies everytime you through away a fleece?  Really, just ask TinkerBell.  Speaking of fleece, I was caught in the barn during a massive thunderstorm the other night.

Lightning struck the fence attached to the barn a mere 10 feet from were I was about freaking me out.  I was scared.  I can only imagine what goes through the Alpacas heads while a storm is in progress and getting to experience it with the herd gave me a glimpse of how they react.
What did I learn this weekend? 
Wine is good. 
Wine Tasting at the Binder Park Zoo is really good.  
Drinking Wine with with friends at the Zoo is awesome. 
Alpacas are wonderful. 
Llamas are ok. 
Spinning Jacob is fun.
Storms are bad.
I like to win.
There is such a thing as too much Bruschetta.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Fiber Arts Friday - Tour de Fleece

One year ago this week, I bought my first spinning wheel.  Yikes! Only one year.  I had only been spinning on my Spinsanity Drop Spindle for a few months and here I was with my very own Ashford Elizabeth.  I was a spinner with a spindle and a spinning wheel.

My first yarn!
Fast forward a year and here I am owning four spinning wheels and wanting more plus completely obsessed with the Art of Spinning.  I don't just want to spin, I want to spin wonderfully.  I want to understand the techniques and all the fibers.  I want to understand any and all aspects of spinning, dyeing, fiber prep...everything. I want to control the thickness of my singles and the twist of my ply. If I want slubs in the yarn, I'll make them but they won't appear because of lack of skill.  If I want thick yarn, I'll spin it and if I want lace then...well, I still need to learn that but I will do it once I can control the singles. Oh, I also want to weave.
A very recent yarn
This year's Tour de Fleece is an opportunity to challenge myself...also surrounding myself with other amazing spinners.  I am learning through the fun and that is the best way to learn.  I WILL learn everything about spinning.  It may take me years but I have a feeling I'll enjoy every second of it.
One weeks worth of spinning. 
The Tour de Fleece has inspired me to blog every day which is a bit of a challenge so today's post was about reflection.  Now...about only owning four wheels, I think I would like to make it five and I already have my eye on one.  Yikes!  Now what adventures in Fiber Arts have you had this week?
Fiber Arts Friday Blog Carnival!

To participate:

  1. Submit your blog article using your current blog address NOT your complete blog  i.e. you would submit  
  1. Link back to Fiber Arts Friday from your post so that your readers can come and see everyone else’s projects! Text link to  WISDOM BEGINS IN WONDER!   
  2. Visit as many of the other participants as possible and leave comments! That’s what helps us all connect!
Check out these cool blogs:

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Tour de Fleece - Warning to not use Wheels with Motors

I've been getting up pretty early each day to spin my heart out for the Tour de Fleece.  So far I'm averaging one to two hanks of yarn a day.  Not to shabby.  Again, the house is a mess and I'm way behind in paperwork but when I hear competition I turn into a beast.

Speaking of being a beast, I've decided to heed Grumpy's advice and NOT mow the pastures or the lawn.  Back in the archives of my blog you will find where I put a slight dent into the big barn.  Well this year I've topped it.  Did you know we have a sand pit in the one pasture...yes, we are working on improving them each year until then I know, now, that you don't drive the Kubota through that area.

We used to have a few trees in the one pasture, now we have two.  I was afraid to take that picture. Oh...and the deer.  This is why I have to give my Alpacas shots every month.  Yards from the one pasture I saw this beauty.  Hopefully come November, she'll be dinner.  Awful, I know but delicious and not around to harm my herd.
 The lesson is Don't let Andrea use the tractor...stick to bikes and wheels.

Wait!  Is that training wheels on the bike?  Yup, see I am learning my limits.
Here is the product from the wheel I can control without getting hurt.
 Until later...keep on truckin'