A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

December 4, 2012

Of fiber and friends



Spinning at iIndrush Alpacas

Jessie Dodington and Ruth Randolph spinning at Windrush Alpacas while our commercial is being shot

One of the pleasures of having an alpaca business is that it opens you up to meeting all sorts of fiber addicts – knitters, crocheters, spinners, weavers, felters, we all share a love of fiber and enjoy getting together and enjoying fiber arts.  Alpacas are a fiber animal so let’s face it we alpaca breeders need fiber fanatics!

Two of the  fiber fanatics I have met along the way are Liby Ball and Jessie Dodington,

Liby, Jessie and I met through a local knitting group.  Liby was living in nearby Portales with her husband Jared who was working in Portales at that time, Jessie came to Portales with her husband to be (now her husband) Elliott who had accepted a job at Eastern New Mexico University.   Knitting groups are a wonderful way to integrate yourself into the local community.  As Jessie puts it

“I’ve moved around a lot and the one trick that never fails me when I arrive in a new town is to go to the local yarn store or library and ask about the existence of any knitting groups. There is nothing nicer than being welcomed into a knitting group. You already have something in common with everyone – you’re a crafter! – the atmosphere is casual and conversation comes easy while you sit and work on your projects.”

Jessie and Liby hit it off immediately and a firm friendship formed over time.  Liby now lives in Indiana but distance cannot keep Liby and Jessie apart and so putting their creative heads together they decided to go on a mission to entertain crafters of all types by starting a pod cast called Multicraftual 

Multicraftual is a fun and addictive pod cast.  Jessie and Liby discuss their current and finished projects interjected with much zany humor and the occasional glass of wine.

Jessie knits, Liby crochets, but both do so much more.  Liby is a very talented seamstress (you can check out her creations on her Facebook page ) and is also a belly dancer extraordinaire   Jessie is a very talented fine artist (you can check out Jessie’s creations on her blog ), knitting pattern designer, spinner and also sings in local choirs. (I guess that makes them an all singing, all dancing duo!)

When talking of Liby, Jessie and Multicraftual I cannot omit Liby and Jessie’s cats who also make brief appearances during the pod casts.  “Pancake”  (Liby’s cat) is a star in his own right and has his own Facebook Page  while “Dragon”  (Jessie’s young kitten) is becoming famous for performing “the kitty plank” during the pod cast.  Watch the pod cast to see what “the kitty plank” is.

So apart from my friendship with Liby and Jessie, how does Multicraftual relate to Windrush Alpacas you might ask?  Well first off Jessie and Liby are yarn customers of ours.  Jessie also knit a beautiful sample shawlette of her own design using our Windrush Alpacas Blue Swirl yarn so that I could display the shawlette in our farm store to show people how our yarn knits up.

Windrush Alpacas Blue Swirl Alpaca/Bamboo Yarn

Windrush Alpacas Blue Swirl Yarn. A sumptuous alpaca/bamboo blend yarn



Recently Jessie also helped out with our TV commercial.  Those are Jessie’s hands you see spinning away in the foreground during the shot of the spinners.  (The other spinner being our friend and fellow knit group member Ruth Randolph).  Plus in the recent Episode 13 of the Multicraftual pod cast our commercial and our yarn are both mentioned, and there is some bonus footage of Jessie’s time at the farm while we were filming, including a brief guest appearance by Daisy the dog!

So get comfortable, drift on over to Multicraftual and enjoy some light hearted crafting chat with two special ladies.  Be warned though it’s addictive!

Note:  For those of you who use Ravelry you can also find Multicraftual in the groups there


October 8, 2009

Welcome to Our Newest Arrival

Our newest cria - son of Ana Lynette

Our newest cria - son of Ana Lynette


Now this is the sort of cria delivery that is fun.  Here I am on vacation in England while in New York one of our newest additions to our alpaca herd “Ana Lynette” delivered her cria – a beautiful light fawn boy.  Talk about a stress free delivery – well it was for me anyway!  A big thank you to Lindsay Butkiewicus of Wild Thyme Farm for keeping us updated on the cria’s delivery and for looking after Ana Lynette and her cria until we are able to move them to our farm.

Ana Lynette is being a wonderful mother, very attentive to her cria and producing lots of milk, while her cria is enjoying life as crias tend to do.  Lindsay says that there is a chance that the cria may be more rose grey than fawn, which is a distinct possibility given his genetics (black sire and beige dam with black in her background).  Some greys become more apparent as they age so time will tell for our little boy.  Now we just have to come up with a name for him (and if you have been following our blog you will know how boy crias always prove a challenge to us when it comes to names)


We will not get to see Ana Lynette and her cria until after I return from England.  We want the cria to be at least three weeks old before he travels as it will be a long trip for him and Ana Lynette.  Hopefully by late November Ana Lynette and her boy will be with us and maybe we can even get our new junior herdsire Champ on the transport too.


Ana Lynnette and her cria

Ana Lynnette and her cria

Here in England it is still sunny but the temperature has dipped to the mid fifties, still not too bad for October.  Ric reports that things are cooler in New Mexico too and so I think we can say fall has arrived.

This evening I will be attending the Baldock Knit Together Group.  I tried to attend the group last year when I was over but was unable to do so.  Since then I have kept in contact with the group organizer Rhona and we are looking forward to meeting in person at the meeting tonight.  Of course I will be taking my latest alpaca knitting project with me, and I am sure I will pick up many new tips and free patterns during the course of the evening.  It is wonderful that knitters and crocheters the world over always welcome each other and enjoy admiring each others knitting projects while being willing to pass on tips and tricks.  Being part of a knitting or crochet group is a great way to meet some lovely people who share a common love of fiber arts.

Tomorrow my mother and I will set off by train to go to Totley in South Yorkshire where we will visit my Dad’s cousin Stella.  I have many happy childhood memories of times spent with Stella.  There were at least two summers when my brothers and I went to stay with Stella for a few weeks and had a wonderful time exploring the Yorkshire countryside and learning more of our family history.  It has been at least 20 years since I was in that part of the country and so it will be nice to visit again and enjoy the many beautiful sights of South Yorkshire.

So on that note I had better turn my attention to packing my bag for my trip.


August 21, 2009

It’s That Time of The Year Again

When the temperature starts to cool a little, the sun sets earlier and the spinning wheel starts calling me!

Having knitted several projects recently I think it is time for a change, so the spinning wheel will be getting a workout

Right now my spinning wheel has some alpaca fiber on it that has been spun but that has also been grabbed by puppy Blue and entangled.  I really need to untangle the yarn and ply it then I will be able to move on to a new project.

I have some white roving ready to go and recently have been viewing some pictures of blended fibers (thanks Theresa and Nichol!) which have set my imagination going and are tempting me to try blending something with the alpaca roving I have.  I still have that really pretty lilac colored tussah silk which I think would look nice against the white roving I have on hand; I just need to pluck up the courage to give it a try.

Within a few months I hope to have a large supply of gray roving on hand as I have finally got around to skirting my collection of blanket fleeces from our one and only gray alpaca Ma Cushla.  Cush is not the softest alpaca in the world but her fleece has a beautiful even silver gray color to it.  I am sending Ma Cushla’s fleeces in to be dehaired and put into roving, some of which I will spin into yarn for knitting and crochet projects and some I want to use for felting (a nice nuno felt scarf maybe).   It will be fun to work with Ma Cushla’s fleece during the cooler months and while I am waiting for it to return from the mill I can start to think about some potential fibers to blend with it.  (I can also think some more about the small rigid heddle loom I have my eye on – but don’t tell Ric who claims I already have too many fiber arts toys as it is!)

That’s the thing with fiber there are so many different things to do with it and so much fun to be had trying new techniques.  The real trick is to find the time to do it all, but it’s amazing what even 15 minutes a day will create.


August 19, 2009

It’s Not Alpaca But…

Filed under: alpaca, alpaca products, Alpacas, camelids, Crias, suri, yarn — Tags: , , , , , — alpacalady @ 6:37 am
Front View of Black Trellis Shawl

Front View of Black Trellis Shawl

It looks really nice! 

A few months ago I was asked to make a black shawl out of some trellis yarn.  I did find some trellis yarn that was made out of suri alpaca and tried to persuade the lady who had asked for the shawl that I should use that beautiful alpaca yarn.  Unfortunately the lady’s budget didn’t stretch to the suri alpaca trellis yarn and so she asked me to make the shawl in an acrylic yarn instead.

I knew that the shawl would take a while and it did, partly just due to the size of the project and partly due to squeezing in some knitting time during shearing, cria season and then the arrival of our puppy Blue (who thinks that all knitting projects need to be seized and dragged off into the distance – arrgh!)

The pattern was a very simple one, but with the character of the trellis yarn it was very effective.   At times it seemed as if the shawl was not growing, but stitch by stitch, inch by inch it did grow.  When I thought the shawl was about the right size I called my customer and took the shawl to her to try it on.  It was a perfect fit.    Next we had to decide on the fringe and both my customer and I felt that a long fringe would suit the shawl, partly to give the shawl some weight and partly to help proportion the shawl.

Cutting and hand tying the fringe on the shawl took more time, but once I got a system in place I started to pick up speed with the fringing.  The fringe is 16” long and the yarn developed a pleasing gentle curl to it once it was cut.

It was amazing to me to see how that 16” fringe changed the shawl from a plain piece of knitting to a glamorous shawl.  Unfortunately the pictures I have taken do not really do the shawl justice, but at least they give an idea of how it looks.

Back View of Black Trellis Shawl

Back View of Black Trellis Shawl


The next stage was to wash and block the shawl to help it memorize its shape.   I must admit I was nervous that the fringe would react badly to washing, but I carefully wound it around the folded shawl and washed the shawl by hand very gently.  Once I had the shawl laid out and blocked I maneuvered the shawl so that the fringe hung over the edge of the work surface as it dried, allowing the fringe to dry with a nice drape to it.

My customer was so excited when I called her to tell her the project was complete and we made arrangements to meet so that she could collect her shawl.  As she opened the bag and pulled out the shawl her eyes lit up and she immediately tried the shawl on, it looked very effective and my customer was extremely pleased with her new acquisition.

It was very satisfying to see the shawl’s new owner enjoying the shawl so much, she tried it on in several different ways and twirled around to show it off, that alone made all those hours of knitting worthwhile.

I have already had someone else ask me about making another shawl like this one,  she saw my customer trying the shawl on before I had fringed it and immediately wanted to know if I could make another one and how much I would charge for it.  At that time I hadn’t priced the shawl but now I have figured my costs and labor I can get back with her and give her a price – I wonder if I can persuade her to let me make her shawl out of the suri alpaca trellis yarn…  (wishful thinking on my part but you never know!)



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.



September 16, 2008

Fall Feels Like Fiber (Arts that is)


I don’t know what it is about the fall but it always brings to me the urge to do more with fiber arts.  Perhaps it is the cooler temperatures and the thought of colder weather to come, but the last few days have found my mind drifting to thoughts of spinning, knitting and crochet.  I also think about weaving but Ric has put an embargo on any more fiber arts toys and as yet I don’t own a loom – one day though…


Fall in New Mexico is a golden time, the temperatures are a little cooler, the air is still (no Spring winds to contend with) and if we are lucky more moisture comes into the area.  Yesterday morning as I walked the dogs our winter wheat was glistening with dewdrops, one clear bead of dew on the tip of each wheat blade reflecting the rising sun.


By the evening the full moon was large and present, a Harvest Moon starting off as a huge red-tinged globe on the horizon and ending up as a bright, luminous, silver disc in the sky.  If you have never witnessed a full moon in clear, unlit skies you are definitely missing out on one of life’s treasures.  Perhaps it is the subtle light and colors of fall that also stir the desire for fiber arts.


I already have a commission order for a black cable knit hat, so that will satisfy some of the fiber art itch, and bring a little income too.  There are so many other projects that I can choose to work on after that but I think some spinning is going to take priority, and perhaps I will venture to do some blending of other fibers with the alpaca fiber this time, after all I still have a beautiful ball of silk in my fiber stash that is wasted just sitting in the closet.


As an alpaca breeder it’s not obligatory to enjoy the fiber arts but it sure does help.  While I have knitted and crocheted for years, I did not learn to spin until after we started our alpaca business.  Hand spinning has it’s differences from commercial spinning but I felt that it would be helpful for me to learn how it felt to spin alpaca, and the qualities of alpaca fleece that make it desirable.  Over time as you spin you start to appreciate how the different characteristics of the fleece such as fineness, consistency, crimp and cleanliness make a difference to the finished yarn.  Fiber is a tactile thing and you can learn so much from getting your hands on and working with different fleeces.


In the pasture the alpacas fleece is now getting some length to it, with most of them having a couple of inches or more of fleece length.  Periodically when one of the alpacas is feeling obliging I take a peek at how their fleece is looking and enjoy feeling the softness of their fiber on my fingers.  Yes, it’s definitely time to get that spinning wheel going, so on that note that’s what I’m off to do now!



February 27, 2008

Not Quite a Hat but Getting There

Filed under: alpaca, Alpaca Fiber, Alpacas, General — Tags: , , , , , — alpacalady @ 7:38 am

Landscapes HatMy latest knitting project is almost complete. It got off to a good start and then got postponed as we prepared for the show. I had high hopes of knitting on the journey to the show but we were so late setting off it was dark before we got an hour down the road. I have a little light that I travel with to help me be able to knit in the truck after dark, but the yarn I am using splits easily and the fact that the section I am working on is a mid blue didn’t help my progress.

I did manage to cast on the stitches for the next section but the eyestrain just doing that was a little much and so I had to put the project aside for a while.

When we returned home I did get a chance to do some knitting – as I sat with Ric at the hospital as we waited to see the doctor. I knew we were going to have a long wait (it turned out to be over two hours until we even got to see the doctor) and so went to the hospital prepared. The time goes by a lot quicker when you have something to do.

While at the hospital I discovered that I had actually twisted the knitting on the circular needles creating a möbius band – not what I wanted at all. It seems as if every time I read the words “be careful not to twist the knitting on the circular needles” it is an automatic signal to my brain to do just that!

Still by the time we left the hospital I had ripped out the bad knitting and recreated the piece to where it was when we arrived, so all was not lost.

The next section will form the crown and will attach to the main body of the hat that you see pictured above. The yarn is Landscapes, a lovely blend of alpaca and silk from Alpaca With A Twist and the hat has a beautiful soft feel to it.

The hat will be finished soon and then it will be on to the next craft project, I still have a couple of sweaters on my to do list, but of course there is still that matching sock to make to complete the pair I have already started. Whatever the next project is one thing’s for sure, it will be made of alpaca!



January 14, 2008

What’s on my Needles?

Filed under: alpaca, Alpaca Fiber, Alpacas, General — Tags: , , , , , , , — alpacalady @ 7:49 am

Laca Alpaca Scarf

I always try to keep one fiber arts problem on the go, using, of course, alpaca fiber.  For the past few months my project has been a knitted black lace scarf.  The scarf was knitted using 100% North American alpaca and consisted of a total of 27,262 stitches with a hand knotted scarf of 160 strands of alpaca yarn.  This particular scarf was made for a friend of ours to give to his wife as a gift for their 40th wedding anniversary.  I made a little care card up to go with the scarf explaining how it was made.  The card also had a little quote and verbiage that related to the significance of a 40th wedding anniversary.  Our friend says that he is not sure which his wife likes the best the card or the scarf!

I really wanted to try some more on my knitting machine this weekend in lieu of my not being able to attend my knitting machine class in Colorado, but a 4 hour online Board Meeting and an unexpected visitor put paid to those plans.  Instead I worked on a very colorful knitted hat that is my latest alpaca fiber arts project.  The yarn is Landscapes by the Alpaca Yarn Company and is a lovely heavy worsted yarn in a blend of 70% alpaca and 30% silk.  It is knitting up really well and as the needles required are large than those for the scarf my progress is a lot quicker.

I was once asked by someone how I find the time to knit, crochet and spin along with everything else I have to do.  It really isn’t too hard, I enjoy the fiber arts side of my business and so to spend time making something is a pleasure and provides me with relaxation.  I try to carve out 15 – 30 minutes a day to work on one of my projects and it’s amazing how much progress can be made even in that small amount of time.  Knitting, crochet and spinning all have something of a meditative quality to them and it is good to be able to free my mind of everything that is whirring around in it and just focus on a fiber art for a little while.

I put the hand knit items I make up for sale, and it is quite exciting when someone else appreciates the time and skill that went into making a hand made piece and decides to buy it.  I can’t honestly say that I get paid for the time that I spend making the hand made items, but the pleasure in making them is part of the payment I receive.

Of course I always have my eye out for the next project to make.  I have one sock of a pair made and need to finish the other one.  This was my first time at attempting to make socks and I must say I didn’t find it nearly as challenging as making something from a lace pattern, but perhaps I need to find a more challenging sock pattern to work on.  I also think it is time I once more take on the challenge of making a sweater.  When I was in my early twenties I used to turn out a sweater a month!  I still have a couple of them and sometimes cannot believe that I actually made them, so I feel it is time I take on that challenge again and remind myself of what I am capable of doing.  Of course in my twenties I had a little more free time on my hands, but even though it will take me a bit longer it will be fun to make such a project again!


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