A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

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.

Rosemary

May 20, 2009

Spinning Wheel or Kid Magnet?

The Spinning Wheel has a magical attraction for children

The Spinning Wheel has a magical attraction for children

 

The last couple of days have found us with school groups, first a group of nine kindergartners (along with a few parents and siblings) who visited the farm for a field trip, then a visit to a local elementary school to talk about alpaca fiber and the process of taking raw fiber to cloth as part of their medieval arts project.

It is always interesting to see the reactions both of the children to the alpacas and the alpacas to the children.  The kindergartners proved to be very interesting to a couple of the alpacas, Sleeper and Cinnamon took time to check them out reaching their necks forward to sniff the children and also being very interested in the artificial flower on one the little girls hats.   We used Pride as the alpaca for the children to touch and also to show off his teeth and feet pads, he behaved very well and was very tolerant of the small hands that all wanted to touch him.  Having learned a little about alpacas and met the alpacas and llamas the children declared that they were now hungry and were happy to eat their lunches on our front lawn in front of the girls’ pen.  I reckon two of the llamas Maya and Griffin must have encountered kindergartner lunches before as they hung by the fence line and were eventually rewarded with pieces of apple from the children’s lunch packs – smart llamas!

The elementary school visit also went over well, although Blast and Atlas, the two alpacas we took with us, were a little overwhelmed when they walked onto the school patio to be greeted by the first group of children who were kindergarten through Grade 2.   There were a lot of children and a lot of noise as their excited voices reverberated against the patio walls.  Blast and Atlas bravely entered the patio although I am sure they were wondering what on earth all that noise was.  The children soon settled down when asked and enjoyed learning about the alpacas and spinning alpaca fiber.   Blast was particularly taken with one of the teachers who offered to hold his lead rope, giving her kisses and checking out her sandals on her feet.

The second group of children was Grades 3 through 6 and so was a little older.  They soon settled down and had plenty of questions about the alpacas and alpaca fiber.

One thing both groups had in common was their fascination with my spinning wheel.  Since owning my spinning wheel I have learned that spinning wheels are “kid magnets”.  Children are absolutely fascinated with them and almost cannot stop themselves from coming up and touching the wheel.  I have seen many usually well behaved children defy their parents “do not touch” request when it comes to a spinning wheel; as with the yarn it spins the wheel just seems to draw the children in.

This group of children was no exception and shortly after I started spinning in front of the first group I discovered that I was surrounded by small children who had completely forgotten that they were supposed to be sitting on the floor listening to Ric’s presentation.  The children had lots of questions too “where does the yarn go”, “what’s this”, “is that hard to do” “how does that happen”

The older group of children did manage to stay in their seats a little longer, but as soon as they were told by their teachers that they could get up came over to the spinning wheel reaching out to touch the main wheel, the drive belt, the yarn and anything else they could get too.  They were just so curious and fascinated by the spinning wheel that they too could not stop themselves from making a connection with the magical machine.

It struck me as I spun in front of the children that it would be pretty cool to have spinning as a regular school activity.  Certainly spinning is very relaxing and helps your mind to focus.   In these days of high technology and instant communication I wonder what effect it would have on school children if they had start and end each day with 30 minutes of hand spinning.  I suspect it would have a very positive result.

Rosemary

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!

 

Rosemary

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