Celtic Cable

Celtic Cable

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Alpaca, Cables, and a Bum Drum (Carder)

Happy Friday, everyone!  I've had a super fibery-week! I spun some merino on the wheel, some Icelandic on the spindle -- Icelandic is excellent for spindle-spinning -- and some pure alpaca (on the spindle.) On to the alpaca!

I washed, combed, and spun some of the Nancy fiber I got from Shepherd's Purse Alpaca farm.

 I soaked it once without soap, then with Suave Strawberry Shampoo (you are supposed to use human hair shampoo with alpaca, I've read). I soaked it a couple more times after the round with soap, then dumped it out to dry. It went from dusty black and full of VM to shiny, soft, and floaty.

The cats loved it.

Edgar guarded it for a couple of days. I think he thought it was his kin.

Carding alpaca is difficult! It clings to the carder, but not so much to itself.

And it looks remarkably like my doggy's hair. Perhaps I could make a blend.

Spinning it was somewhat difficult. Edgar persisted in his attentions.

A singles swatch. The swatch is 100% alpaca. The stuff wrapped around the darning egg (I really need some nostepinnes) is blended with brightly dyed mohair locks. I was experimenting. Alpaca by itself is wonderfully soft and fun, but it is the very dickens to card and spin!

And my drum carder is not working properly, which doesn't help. The drive belt just isn't driving. I can still use it, but only with the large drum. Since I don't use the licker-in, it's not that big a deal -- I always feed the fiber in on the top, using the teeth to tease open the locks and stretch them out while the drum is turning. It's faster, and more efficient that way. IMHO. But I need the small drum to blend fibers. I have completely dismantled it, cleaned it, oiled, reassembled ... still no luck. I am probably 100% to blame ... I don't use air conditioning most of the summer, and it was exposed to heat and humidity.

On to the WIPs! Here is the sweater-in-progress, front and back at the same time. The far left view is the front view; the closer work is the back view. I love it when the cables start showing!

The ever fabulous Kool-Aid blanket. I couldn't get the dog to stand next to it for scale ... it's long enough to go from my toes to my torso, and wide enough to comfortably cover me. I am going to make it longer now, but not wider.

One of the strays, Stranger Boy. He was playing with the yarn ball a second before I took the picture.

D'awwww..... isn't he adorable? Don't you just want to take him home with you?

Don't you? Pretty please?

And for anyone interested in my couch-to-5k program ... I am in week five. The 5k is 28 October, so I have 29 days to work up to running 3.1 miles without stopping. Although what I do couldn't properly be called 'running....' Perhaps 'trudging' is a better word for it! In any case, it's a few hours a week in which my butt isn't on the sofa or in the spinning chair!

Happy Friday!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

I Went to the Alpaca Farm

And all I got was this fabulous fiber!

This weekend, Shepherd's Purse Alpaca Farm in Mt. Airy, Maryland, is having an open house. That's 24 and 25 September, 10 - 4. There are lots and lots of alpacas!

Here are the girls ... 

And here are the boys ...

And mommas and babies ...

Inez here is blurry because she's so young ... she'll sharpen up later.

(Just kidding. It's just a bad photo on my part)

Here's My Gal Sal with her momma.

There are two more pregnant girls, too. Shepherd's Purse has mostly Huacaya, and a few Suris.

This is Sugar Baby. The babies are all named after songs, and the owner, Cindy, will sing them to you if you ask ... or if you don't ask!

Here's Dominga ^ (Or Domingo, I'm not sure which ... I just know it's a she, because this is her son ...)

With the exact same white mask! Son is "The Masked Avenger" (That's either true, or someone was joking with me, I'm not sure which)

I had a very enjoyable time. I couldn't really pet them, but if I had a handful of grain, I could get close while they ate out of my hand. I came away with some  alpaca yarn and three big ziplock bags of Nancy's two-year-old fleece:

The fleece pictured at top is from her, spring 2010. I am going to be cleaning, carding and spinning it up. I've spun lots of alpaca before, but I've never really had to clean it, so this will be a new experience for me. I love new experiences ;-)

So if you're in the greater Baltimore area, Mt. Airy is off of 70, before you get to Frederick. It's a lovely drive.

And if you want to know what it's like to have an alpaca put his nose right up to your face and sniff you, then be sure to say hi to Mr. X. He's very friendly.

Basic alpaca information can be found here. That's where I had to go to spell Huacaya correctly.

Well I'm off to learn how to clean the pounds of dirt out of the Nancy fiber ... stay tuned!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Cable Me This ...

This mass of yarn, needles, marker, and cat ... will hopefully one day be this ...

Minus the dorky guy with the little head, of course.

I've got the charts sorted out, complicated mess that they are, and I've decided it will be best for me if I knit both front and back at the same time. There are three cable charts plus the stuff in between, and I fear that if I do just one side at a time ... I'll triumphantly finish the front side, then it'll be like SSS. Crap, I gotta do the same thing ALL OVER again! So I'm knitting both front and back at the same time (on different needles, not altering the pattern to be in the round). It's easily the most complicated thing I've knitted. Even the big Susie Hoody I knit for myself wasn't too hard; it only had the cable around the edge, hood, and sleeve ends. This whole sweater is cables and twists. I'm in something of a lull, otherwise. Just a few rows here and there on the big Kool-aid afghan.

Happy Fiber Arts Friday!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Oh, Enough Already!

First the tornado ... then the earthquake ... then the hurricane ... now flooding! Enough already! I'm not sure if fire is next, or hordes of locusts.

The Patapsco River, normally no more than a few inches deep, is now -- thanks to Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee -- really, really, out of control. Here's a link to some pictures, courtesy of the Catonsville Patch.  I don't live in Catonsville, but I live in a neighborhood adjacent to the Patapsco River. I'm safe at home, high up on a hill. Getting home from work is a bit difficult, though. I can't take the back roads anymore. Oh, for a return of sunshine and normalcy!

Okay, enough gripedy-griping. My WIPS are not much bigger than last time! I dropped everything to finish the baby sweater, then to start a new project. First, the old:

I really like my Kool-Aid blankie. I only have about 1,000 yards of yarn left, so it won't be much bigger than this ;-)

It's going to keep me so cozy-warm this winter! I have to keep the cats off it. They love to lie on my lap when I have anything knitted on it. But they have sharp little claws, too.

Socks ... the perpetual socks. The cuff I chose wasn't tight enough, so I had to add ribbing at the top. One day ... I'll finish them. They might go up over my knees, but I'll finish them.

And, a new WIP. It's hard to tell, but they're warm footie slipper sock thingies. And they're destined for a gift basket I'm going to put together for a drawing. This post now is my 93rd post ... my blogiversary passed back in July, so I thought I would wait and celebrate my 100th post by having a drawing and a giveaway. These footie slipper sock thingies are from the Luxury Yarn One-Skein Wonder book ... page 211, Llama Wool Slipper Socks. Wow, Llama! How Lluxurious!

Actually, these are BFL. I didn't have any Llama Llaying around. I did have this fabulous BFL I spun back in March. I bought it from skeinwinder123 on Etsy. It's a fabulous colorway, gold and green and wheat. It's called Golden Harvest. When I was spinning it, I thought it looked like Saturn, the colorized photos I've seen of it.

Anyway, the footie slipper sock thingies will be part of a giveaway. I'll draw names. In the interest of fairness, my two close friends here in the Baltimore region will be excluded from the drawing -- sorry! -- but if they're seriously miffed, I'll knit them a pair of footie sock slipper things, too.

Happy Fiber Arts Friday! Hopefully next time I post, it will be dry and sunny and not all apocalyptically flooded or shaken or blown or whirled.