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Monday, 31 August 2015

And Then There Were Two

This little chap arrived a few weeks ago, 8 days after Caramac (yes, the first baby was finally given a name).

Here he is, staying pretty close to his Mum, Bella.  Hope, Caramac's Mum, seemed to think she should have this baby too and kept trying to steal him!

Everyone was amazed at his colour - Mum's white and so is Dad, so where on earth did this come from?

Cadbury and Caramac were immediately friends and love to play together.

"Stick with me kiddo . . . I'll teach you everything I know!"  I can see already that this pair are going to get into lots of mischief!

There may be some exciting news in the future.  When the babies are weaned at about six months old they will need to be put in a separate field from their mothers.  Normally they would go in with other males, but at six months they're still too little to go in with the adult males (Rob and Tammy's first baby alpaca was killed at eleven and a half months old by one of the fully grown males - we think he was crushed to death).  If Rob uses a third field (the females are kept separate from the males) it makes a bit of a mess of his field rotation.  So guess where they might be going?  Yes, our garden!!!!  It would only be until they're big enough to go back with the male alpacas, but I'm really quite excited about this.  I've never baby-sat alpacas before!

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Baby Love

Look who arrived at Rob and Tammy's on Friday last :-

This is Hope's little boy.  She was a bit bemused at having a little being running around her, but is coping well.  Last year her baby was born dead, so this is her first real offspring.  He's quite small, but perfectly formed!  He looks quite a lot like Bailey (my last alpaca) except for his size - Bailey was a big boy!  Hope's father was Bailey's grandfather, so that probably explains it.  He doesn't have a name yet, but this year's babies all have names beginning with "C".

He's only half a day old here - it always amazes me how quickly they get the use of those long legs!

Hope wearing a necklace in celebration!

Bella still has to produce her baby - fingers crossed it's a girl.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Tour de Fleece 2015 - Week 3

Finally, I'm getting round to posting the results of TdF's week 3 (about time too!)  Just a little warning - this is a picture-heavy post.  It was a fun and busy week though, so maybe that's a good enough excuse.

First I plied the mohair and alpaca for the boucle yarn.  I was a bit worried that I wouldn't be able to push the loops up the alpaca core because it was a bit fluffy.  It worked perfectly however, so here it's ready for the binding thread to hold all the loops in place.

After plying this, I realised I had much more yardage than I thought I would have.  I estimated that my home grown silk that I spun (the violet) was no-where near long enough to use as the binder for this, so decided to spin some commercial silk and dye it.

This is spun "Z" (clockwise) and is going to be plied "Z" which effectively puts more twist into the yarn, so I tried to put as little twist into the spinning as I could.

I made this into a centre-pull ball and soaked it overnight

then dyed it in the microwave whilst still in the ball, which wasn't as successful as I'd hoped - the dye didn't penetrate right through to the centre.  I hand-painted the undyed bits and stuck it in the microwave again.

This is the finished boucle, plied with the blue and mauve silk :-

As it turned out, I used far less of the silk for this than I'd anticipated, so maybe the home-grown silk would have been enough after all.  I'm happier with the colour of this one though, I think the viole(n)t would have been a bit too much!

Next, I carried on with singles for the multi-ply challenge.  This is Merino dyed with cherry flavoured Kool Aid :-

I threaded the beads onto some of the locks of wool

then spun them into the yarn

Oops - didn't foresee this though - the beads were a bit of a tight fit going through the orifice.  I had to push each one through each time before it would go on the bobbin.

All sorted now :-

Then it was the turn of some merino which I dyed last year.  Again, beads were threaded onto the locks of wool

and spun in.  Smaller beads this time so they fit perfectly.

Then it was time to pl(a)y!  First, I "S" (anti-clockwise) plied :-

2 bobbins of madder-dyed merino
2 bobbins of madder/grape Kool Aid dyed merino
and 1 bobbin of cherry Kool Aid merino with beads

This was made into a centre-pull ball (every time I came to a bead on the ball winder I had to unhitch it, pull the bead through and re-hitch it!) and plied "Z" (clockwise again) from either end.

It was then "S" plied (back to anti-clockwise) with the thick and thin beaded woad-dyed merino,

made into a centre-pull ball again and "Z" plied back on itself from either end :-

It was my intention then to wrap the blue and mauve silk around it.  First attempt failed because the silk was too fine and just got lost in the folds of the main yarn, so I 3-plied it.  Second attempt failed because my wheel had come to its limit for drawing in the yarn and kept getting knotted up.  I know I could have solved this by making adjustments to the tension bands on the wheel, but I didn't want to fiddle with it too much because I'm more than halfway through another project on it and didn't want to mess that up.  Instead, I called this finished :-

and named it "Rapunzel".

The final measurements for my yarns are :- 

Boucle (85g) 45 yds/41m, 
Rapunzel (150g) 16 yes/15m, and 
Mystere (60g) 80 yes/73m

 - which makes it look like I've been sitting around doing nothing for the last 3 weeks!  Good fun though!  Roll on next year!

Edit : I worked out that with all the different plies and doubling back on itself, the Rapunzel yarn ended up having 22 strands!  My fattest yarn ever.