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Wednesday, 25 March 2015


Sad news - Rob and Tammy's baby alpaca, Babycham, died last week.  She'd had diarrhea for a few days, but otherwise seemed totally healthy.

Bailey had had the same thing but got through it after 4 or 5 days.  We put it down to the spring grass - after lots of rain and warm weather, it had grown rather lush and was maybe too rich.  The other reason could have been that the babies had just been weaned from their mothers and were in a separate field.  Stress can often cause symptoms like this.

Poor Babycham was taken for an autopsy, and the laboratory asked for poo samples from Bailey and his Mum, Cerise, who had also had the diarrhea.  When the reports came back, they showed that Babycham had massive amounts of worms in her system, more than they could count.  They were all wormed three months ago, so that was the last thing we thought of.  She also had some sort of bacteria in her bowel and pneumonia. How could she be so ill and not show it?  That's alpacas for you - they hide all their symptoms until they're too ill to treat.

Bailey's tests showed that he also had too many worms, but only a quarter of the amount that Babycham had.  He's now having treatment (anti-bacterial I think) for his bowel problem, and also for the worms.  The laboratory tested the worms to see which drug would cope with them best and came up with Praziquantil.  All the animals on the farm are now being treated - let's hope it works.

Bailey's Mum, Cerise, is really not well at all.  Rob thinks that is a totally separate issue. She was pretty thin after feeding Bailey for six months, but is still not putting on weight. The vet has tried various treatments, but she doesn't seem to be responding.  She's getting very weak and a bit shaky on her legs. When she sits down she doesn't have the energy to get up again.  Rob has to help her several times a day.  We're hoping for a miracle here, but don't really expect it to happen.  We think she may have eaten a lot of acorns in the late autumn/early winter.  The poison could have caused internal damage which can't be cured.  Fingers crossed.  In the meantime, Bailey is back in the field with his Mum and the other female alpacas and is staying very close to Cerise.  It's almost like he's looking after her.

My favourite photo of Babycham and Bailey.  Rest in Peace little one.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Spinning Progress - Waste Not Want Not

Gosh, almost a month since I last posted - where is this year going?  It's not that I haven't had anything to show you; there's been lots of spinning around here.  I just haven't actually managed to finish anything!  Well, except for these :-

This was the order that Tammy received for 600g of hand-spun alpaca (I volunteered to do half of it).  I've tried and tried to get rid of the blue sheen on this photograph, but looks like it's here to stay.  The true colour may be more apparent on the next photo.

This is from Jorrocks - it's mainly dark grey with a slight brownish tinge here and there. Tammy designed the labels - I just cut them out!  I don't have photographs of her half of the order, but let's hope the recipients are happy with what we've done.

Well, that's it for finished items, but I have started preparing this for spinning :-

This is the green cotton I grew last year.  It doesn't look very green at the moment, but once it's spun and boiled, I have every confidence that it will indeed be green!  You can see a bit of green on the cotton bolls at the left of the photo.  So, unfinished project!

A few weeks ago I put in an order to World of Wool using some of the gift vouchers one of my wicked stepsons sent for Christmas (OK, not so wicked this time!!).  I ordered 500g of botany lap waste (one of my favourite products from WoW because it's always a surprise what you get in there).  I also sent for 500g of scoured Polwarth fleece.  Must admit, for the first time ever, I was less than pleased with this item.

It's not felted, but it's not in what I would call "good order" either.  It's full of clumpy bits that have to be pulled apart and I had a bit of a problem knowing how to prepare this for spinning.  I tried carding, but that wasn't very satisfactory.  What did amaze me was the amount of nepps in this fleece.  Because of those I decided the best way was to get out my combs and have a go.  The combing took quite a while because there was so much waste in there - just look at the nepps in the waste (on the right) :-

I ended up with half spinnable fibre and half waste - which isn't a good ratio in my books.

Mind you, the finished fleece is gorgeous and I look forward to spinning it, but I do wish I hadn't bought 500g of the stuff!  Life's too short.  Lesson learned though - don't buy pre-scoured fleece.  I prefer to spin "in the grease" anyway.

I have to say at this point, I did contact World of Wool and they were quite willing to give me a refund for this if I sent it back.  However, after checking up on postage rates from France to the UK, this was going to cost almost as much as I paid for the fleece, so I decided to keep it and just work on it in idle moments.  It'll get done eventually.  And those nepps will be thrown into leftover dyes and then included in textured yarns - waste- (if you'll pardon the pun!) not-want-not!

Finally, back to the Botany Lap Waste.  As usual, I was pretty pleased with what was in the bag, and fished out all my favourite textures and colours

Look at that sparkly amazingness.  I'm pretty sure there's nothing natural in that bit, but who cares, I love it!

First I spun each colour in sequence to give a stripy effect - two bobbins of this.  Then I took the fibre that was left, added in a few more shades, and blended it on my drum carder :-

That's my nifty milk bottle top diz I'm using there.  Ended up with seven of these luscious balls of fluffiness :-

Which were spun (bobbin on the left)

and plied together to make a pretty nice skein of yarn.  I was a bit worried it was going to turn into clown barf with all those colours, but I think I like it.

Again, another unfinished project, but it does make life more interesting having lots going on!