A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

October 27, 2009

Getting Back in The Swing of Things

The vacation in England is over and I am now back in New Mexico.  My flights home went smoothly and even the trip to Heathrow  Airport via the notorious M25 (complete with road works of course) went without a hitch.  You know you have good friends when they get up way before the crack of dawn to get you to the airport in time – thanks Val and Linda!

My time in England was not only relaxing but also productive.  I completed a little knitted alpaca bag and also started and finished a balaclava made from alpaca lopi yarn that someone had asked me to make.  Time was spent with friends and family and I even got a quick alpaca fix at Mayfield Alpacas in Ringalow Village, Sheffield.  I was fortunate to get to spend a short time with Elaine Sharp the owner of Mayfield Alpacas and we had a great time “comparing notes” on our alpaca operations.   As I looked at Elaine’s alpacas grazing on lush pastures I could not help think of how our alpacas would love to be set loose on such abundant grazing.   If ever you are in the Sheffield area and are looking for something to do make sure you take a trip out to Mayfield Alpacas, not only are there beautiful alpacas to see but also a lovely café with tasty goodies, a gift shop featuring alpaca products and a great display that educates people about alpacas and the history of the alpaca industry (and the map of North and South America actually has Clovis, NM on it – how about that!).

So now I am back at the farm and having gone through the three stacks of junk mail that awaited me, caught up on the laundry and all of the other things that go on the back burner while you are away its time to get back in the swing of things.

At the weekend two of our visiting alpacas Sonora and Dona Cleia were collected by their owners Melita Clark and Mark Hogan of Milagro Meadow Alpaca Ranch.  Sonora and Dona Cleia had been at our farm for breeding and both are now confirmed pregnant.  Sonora was bred to our Enchantment’s Prince Regent and Dona Cleia had the honor of being the first breeding for our Junior Herdsire Windrush White Blast.  We will look forward to seeing pictures of the crias once the girls deliver next year.

Next on our delivery list is Ameripaca’s Theresa who is owned by Troy and Mary Ogilvie of Timber Lodge Alpacas in Kaufman, Texas and bred to our Windrush Jennifer’s Zindel.  Theresa was due to deliver on October 25 but no cria yet so we are watching and waiting.  Hopefully Theresa will not decide to do as in her last pregnancy and go 368 days gestation – I have warned her that if she waits that long she may well be delivering in the snow as our weather is definitely on the turn.

It was good to have a break away from the farm, but it is also good to be back home.  The crias have grown since I left, Blue the puppy is looking more like a little dog than a puppy (although she is still chewing anything paper or plastic including the Windrush Alpacas check book!) and Ric didn’t look too exhausted.  All in all everything looks good – so I guess that means I can leave again sometime!



March 11, 2009

Well That Was Lucky!

The Unintentional Two Tone Balaclava

The Unintentional Two Tone Balaclava


A friend of ours recently asked me to make him a balaclava out of alpaca yarn.  He works on the flight line at the nearby Air Force Base, a place that is exposed to the cold and the wind.  Our friend had tried other balaclavas but found that they made him itch and so wanted something softer.


I took various samples of yarn to him to test before I started on the project and he picked out a rose grey lopi style alpaca and wool blend.  I was a little surprised that he picked that particular yarn as the wool in the yarn may cause it to have some prickle, but he tested all of the yarns against his face and that was the one he liked the feel of the best.  The wool actually will lend some elasticity to the balaclava, which is a good thing.


With the yarn chosen and having found a suitable pattern I started on the project.  I did make some adjustments to the pattern as I felt that the neck ribbing would be too short.  Fortunately Ric had a balaclava that I could use to compare sizing on, which was very helpful as I tried to judge what changes I needed to make.


As I worked on the pattern I received a couple of surprises.  First the amount of yarn I ended up using was much less than the pattern required.  If I had been going by ounces I could understand that as alpaca weighs less than acrylic or wool yarns, but the pattern specified yardage rather than ounces, so either the pattern is wrong or my skein of yarn was longer than the label said it was.  I ended up using about 1 ½ skeins of yarn, which is not too bad.


The other surprise was that all of a sudden my skein of yarn changed color.  What started off as a definite rose gray became more silver grey part way through the skein – oh dear, that’s not what a knitter wants to see in a yarn.  Fortunately the color change occurred just as I finished the neck ribbing and started on the head portion of the pattern so it doesn’t look too bad.  I must admit I held my breath when half way through the head portion I had to start a new skein of yarn, but fortunately the new skein matched the silver grey of the previous skein – whew!  I was so lucky that the color change occurred at a good place on the balaclava, imagine though how that would look if I was making a sweater.


I will be getting in touch with the yarn processor to let them know about the color change in the yarn.  I was able to continue my project so will not be asking for a refund on the yarn, but I feel that they need to be made aware of the problem so that they can try and prevent it from happening again.


The balaclava has now been washed and is drying before I take it to its new owner.  I did try it on before I washed it and it feels nice and is definitely warm.  I hope our friend likes it and that it does not irritate his skin as the other balaclavas have.


Now I am on to my next project, a shawl made out of a ladder yarn, not alpaca I am afraid, but an effective yarn all the same.  Despite my efforts to persuade the lady I am making it for to let me use a suri alpaca ribbon yarn that I had found she eventually went with the acrylic yarn, mainly because the suri ribbon yarn would take the shawl out of her budget.   So I will have to wait to try out that suri ribbon yarn, but I am betting I will find a project for it sometime in the future.



January 22, 2009

A Bright Little Project Completed

One of the completed Nordic headbands

One of the completed Nordic headbandsThe second Nordic Head band. Both headbands are made from 100% alpaca yarn


Fresh off the knitting needles come these two Nordic headbands, both made, of course, from alpaca yarn.


The yarn is some that I had in stock for a while; it was spun and dyed for us at Royal Fiber Spinnery in Ruidoso, New Mexico.  The yarn comprised of a group of single skeins in brightly dyed colors and I decided rather than let it languish on the shelf any longer I would make it into something that I could sell.  When I came across the patterns for the Nordic headbands I knew they would work well for those single skeins of yarn.


It was lovely to work with some brightly colored yarn for a change.  It seems that all of my recent requests for knitted goods have been for black colored items.  Now I know that black is always a chic color, but I have to admit that things become a bit monotonous when every project you work on is black.  So it was definitely time to put some color into my life – literally.


The headbands work really well in our wind blown climate, they keep your ears warm and also help keep your hair in place.  I will take them down to our booth at the Crafters Mall this weekend and see if they sell.


Now having made the headbands I am left with several partial skeins of brightly colored yarn left, so I will need to research a new project or two for the remaining yarn.  In the meantime I have a request for me to knit an alpaca balaclava in – yes, you’ve guessed it, black.



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