Thursday, July 29, 2010

Alpaca Farm Visit

It's true vacation time: road trip, family time, a rented house on a lake, kayaking, and best of all, a field trip to a working alpaca farm. This morning we visited the Blue Bell Farm Alpacas in Grantville, MD. (

We got to feed the female alpacas grain out of our hand. They let us go into the barn and onto the pasture with the animals.

The gentlemen alpacas were a little more rowdy.

Look at those teeth. Perfect for fighting.

The poor little 7 month old black alpaca at the bottom of this heap was recently introduced to the male pen and is being dominated. If he were to fight back and spit a little, the others would start leaving him alone. Hopefully he will figure that one out soon.

Of course we had to take advantage of the gift shop to purchase prepared fleece for spinning. This is the most high quality fleece off of an alpaca named April Snow.

And then some finished yarn for some hand warmers or mitts. This yarn was made with fleece from an alpaca named Smokey.

You can see Smokey, the only gray alpaca on this 45 animal farm, in the middle of this picture, chewing some hay. His exquisite gray coloring did not come out well on this photo, but he has won awards for the quality of his fleece. Unfortunately, he had a heart murmur and was gelded as to not pass on his line of genes. However, he would have been a champion breeder for fleece animals had he been more healthy. I can't wait to knit up some wrist warmers with the yarn from his fleece!

Happy Knitting!

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Since the last post, I have knit exactly two rows on my lace shrug. Auntie E's Knits is on slow-going mode, in spite of stated goals. I have, however, made a road trip to my hometown to meet up with friends, read "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," taught one of two weeks of music camp, and been busy sorting through old boxes of memories. The gardens, especially the flower gardens, are looking like it is summer finally. Here are a few pictures for your amusement.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Finishing the Colt's scarf two days ago inspired me to take a look at a few other projects that are almost finished. On this hat I only had to finish the top section and was worried about two things: 1.) Running out of yarn and 2.) Figuring out the best way to "hide" the kitchener stitched join that was clearly in two different points of the yarn's color variegation. In the end, I opted for following the directions on the pattern, thus not hiding the join at all. It took me several tries (and consequent ripping and re-knitting) before I read the pattern correctly. The blame for this behavior goes to lack of sleep due to my attendance at the midnight opening of the movie "Eclipse" in the wee hours of June 30th. I have no regrets! (...about attending the movie or my decision to keep working on the hat...) See for yourself:

The Details:
Pattern: Quincy, by Jared Flood from his booklet "Made in Brooklyn"
Yarn: Marks and Kattens Sarek - 2 skeins
Needles: 10.5 Bamboo
Colorway: Party (though it is a pretty gray party, I would say!)
Started: November 7, 2009
Finished: June 30, 2010

The yarn was very special to me. I found it in the very last minutes of shopping in the lovely town of Banff last summer. The yarn shop "Jen by the Fjord" is located at the end of an alley near a parking garage. They had a lovely assortment of yarns that I had not heard of before, including this one. The proprietress was such a great lady and had lots of information and also questions. It's fun to have my souvenir yarn transformed into a hat to remind me of a fun hiking vacation.

This picture shows the obvious join. The join does not look as terrible as I thought, but next time I make this hat, I will either plan ahead and purchase more variegated yarn to make a better match, or make it in one color.

And yes, I did run out of yarn. My stash supplied a similar yarn to finish the last few rows. I like how the darker color brings out the star pattern on the top. And I also appreciate the little "halo" that came from the lightening of the old yarn before the change.

Here is a memory this hat will inspire.

Happy Vacation and Happy Knitting!