A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

September 23, 2008

The Socks Are Done!

My First Attempt At Knitting Socks
My First Attempt At Knitting Socks

 

Thank goodness – over the weekend while Ric was away I managed the final few rows of the second sock and that project is complete.

 

The sock project started off because I had some leftover yarn that I wanted to use up.  The yarn was not the best, having been made by a mill owner in his early years of processing alpaca fiber.  Some of the skeins were over spun and had a harsh feel to them, but we made allowances for the fact that the mill owner was new to the business and was in a learning curve (and these days his yarn is vastly improved).

 

I had read in various knitting publications how fast and fun sock making was, so thought I would try my hand at knitting a pair of socks just to see how I enjoyed the experience.  Well, I didn’t!  Perhaps the fact that I was knitting plain socks with no pattern or color variation was a factor, but I found the creation of the socks quite mundane and fiddly.

 

Normally my knitting projects involve lace knitting, cables, interesting stitches or variation of color so that might be why I found the socks less than inspiring.  Still I had started the project and wanted to see it through to completion and so I persevered.

 

The socks were always intended to be used by me, the quality of the yarn was such I didn’t feel right trying to sell the end product, and after all this was my first time trying such techniques as turning a heel.  As things turned our it’s a good job I wasn’t planning on selling the socks as they are not my finest creation, but they certainly have “character” that wonderful term fiber artists use to describe areas of their work that are less than perfect!

 

You can see from the picture that the shape of the heel on the bottom sock is too elongated, the top sock is better and it was the second of the two socks that I knitted – at least I was showing improvement.  To me the cast on for the ribbing at the top of the socks is too loose, but the pattern instructions said to make sure that the cast on was loose.

 

The yarn that I used for the second sock was supposed to be the same as the yarn for the first sock, but there is a difference in both the color and weight of the yarn.  On seeing the socks Ric joked with me that I will have to alternate which foot I wear each sock on as he thinks they will wear differently over time.

The result of unsorted fiber, a fuzzy sock with protruding guard hairs

The result of unsorted fiber, a fuzzy sock with protruding guard hairs

 

When I went to photograph the socks, I realized what a beautiful example they were of fiber that was not sorted prior to being spun into yarn.  Just look at this close up of the first heel – talk about guard hair!  You can see the sock has a very fuzzy outline and some very long straight hairs protruding from it, which are guard hairs.  These protruding fibers will produce a prickle effect to the skin (not good) and over time will shed and pill.  Fiber that was properly sorted by grade, length and color would not have produced two different colored, different weight socks and there would be little to no fuzzy outline or guard hairs.

 

My sock project ended up being more of an education than I ever thought it would be, so it was not a totally wasted experience – and at the end of the day I have a pair of barn socks that will be great to wear as the cooler weather arrives!

 

Rosemary

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!

Rosemary  

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