A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

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.



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