Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Baby, You're a Firework!

Our farm has a new member to our family and her name is Firework.  She is an adorable kitten that Grumpy and the Bears picked out while I was at work.  I came home and they were all giggling and wouldn't let me in on the joke...until Brother Bear broke.

Last year our Furball disappeared and Friend has been left to patrol vermin on his own since last September.  He has been an amazing sentry for our farm but living in the country we have a plethora of vermin.  He is also busy patrolling two of our neighbors yards since their cats don't seem to mind the mice and chipmunks.

We'll see how Friend does training his young barn mate.  I hope they get along...and that the Alpacas tolerate her like they do Friend.  Most importantly, I hope she learns that our Chickens are to be guarded not played with.  Friend is super amazing with the chickens so I hope she follows in his footsteps.

Sister Bear named our adorable kitten.  I like the name...especially since it's Fourth of July weekend.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Introducing Arwen of Wonder

Arwen is said to be the most beautiful of all living beings in Middle-earth.  Her name will also now be known for the beautiful Black Huacaya Alpaca born on June 26, 2011 at the Wonder Why Alpaca Farm, LLC.  346 Days ago we bred her dam, Midnight Aire to our herdsire, Midnight Magic's Mystery...then waited. 

Around 8am this morning we completed our barn chores and still no sight of a cria.  Around Noon I asked Grumpy to go to the barn and let the Alpacas out to pasture since the morning dew had dried while I washed dishes.  As I watched Grumpy walk out to the barn I noticed Midnight Aire was sitting slightly away from the barn.  I don't have a perfect view but...I knew it wasn't her normal spot.  I reached for my camera, phone and called to the Bears that we had a cria before Grumpy could even wave his hands up to the house.  Sure enough, I was already heading out the door by the time Grumpy had run back to the house to let us know that we had a black cria sitting next to Midnight Aire.


She is absolutely beautiful with amazing brightness and adorable crimp.  It's always hard to tell what the fleece will be light on birth day.  I hope she lives up to her name because this LOTR geek is super excited that she's here.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Fiber Arts Friday - Weaving Week?

Welcome to Fiber Arts Friday!  Each week Fiber Artists from around the world meet here to share their adventures in Fiber Arts.  So...what are you waiting for?  Link your Fiber Arts Blog in and share in the fun.  If you visit, please leave a comment.  We bloggers crave comments and followers.

Where on earth did this week go?  I know that Summer officially started but honestly the week went by so fast I barely remember it.  We've had some major rain here which has caused extra barn chore work due to muddy poo piles.  Ah, the day in the life of a farmer.  I haven't spun any yarn on my wheel all week because I have been obsessed with my weaving plus I'm decorating Frodo (details and pics in a future post).  I warped my loom with Alpaca fingering weight yarn and I'm weaving with 100% Silk lace weight yarn.

Last weekend I had a little weaving discussion with Terri and Melissa, who I weave with, where we discussed weaving techniques.  Terri had a chance to participate in a weaving webinar last month and she shared with us a bunch of techniques she learned and answers she got regarding questions we have been struggling with.  Apparently we have been beating our yarn a wee bit too much when weaving which causes a stiffer end product. As you have seen from my prior weaving projects, they are beautiful but...not always having the look or feel I really hoped for. 

With that in mind, I am weaving my silk a lot looser than I have in the past. If you look at the photo you can actually see the space between the yarn.  I am super curious how this will turn out once it's off of the loom and washed.  Keeping in my shrinkage from actually being off of the loom plus what happens when washed, I totally have a vision of what I want it to be, now the question is...will it be the way I want it to be.  As I am weaving my silk is moving a bit which means I am not keeping everything straight.  This may or may not fix itself.  It's so frustrating having to wait to see the result but until I take it off the loom I won't know for sure how this will look which is totally different than my past projects.  I do know that I should get a very drapy scarf which is the intention.

As always, I must leave you with Alpaca photos.  Here is my adorable Sexy Rexy of Wonder working the 4H Obstacle training with my even more adorable Sister Bear.  The county fair is only a few weeks away and the two of them have a lot of work to do.  Now...share your adventures in fiber arts.

Fiber Arts Friday Blog Carnival! 
To participate:
  1. Submit your blog article using your current blog address NOT your complete blog  i.e. you would submit 
http://wonderwhyalpacafarm.blogspot.com/2010/02/e-i-e-i-doh.html  
NOT 
http://wonderwhyalpacafarm.blogspot.com
  1. Link back to Fiber Arts Friday from your post so that your readers can come and see everyone else’s projects! Text link to  WISDOM BEGINS IN WONDER!   
  2. Visit as many of the other participants as possible and leave comments! That’s what helps us all connect!
Check out these wonderful blogs:

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

WIP Wednesday - In the Sunshine, Walking on Sunshine

One of these days I will finish my first pair of knitted socks.  Knitting at lunch is making it seem like forever because I can only get a couple of rows done during that short time.  I am not knitting in the evenings because that is when I spin or weave.  One day...when it's cool enough to wear socks again, I will have these completed.

I did have a chance to sit by our pool on Sunday and knit while to Bears went swimming.  The water was still a bit too cool for my liking although I did take a dip after mowing all of the Alpaca pastures so I sat by the pool and knitted my Walking on Sunshine socks.  As you can see I am on the home stretch.  I also am knitting this second sock a lot tighter than my first sock.  I guess that means that I'm finally getting used to knitting on small needles.

The best part about knitting by the pool is that the pasture surrounds it so I can enjoy my Bears splashing in the water while the Alpacas graze in the pasture.  It was just hot enough that the Alpacas actually came up to the fence and watched the kids play.  That was their hint that I needed to get out the sprinkler so they could play in the water.  Sweet Petunia still hasn't decided if she likes the hose yet....so belly bath time is stressful for her.  Her sire doesn't like to be sprayed down either although her dam is a sprinkler piggy.  I guess Sweet Petunia is Daddy's girl.

Isn't she a cutie?  I registered her as a true black because when I sheared her that is all that came off but a few weeks after shearing, gray appeared.  My dear Sweet Petunia of Wonder is actually a Dark Silver Gray. I am very pleased with this...especially if she is fine like her sire.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Alpaca is Alpaca is Alpaca...or is it?

Every time someone says they are knitting or spinning Alpaca, I always ask if it is Suri or Huacaya.  Quite often my question is met with a quizzical look and the answer that, "It's Alpaca."  As an Alpaca breeder and fiber artist, I want to let the world know that there is more to Alpaca than simply being Alpaca. 

There are two types of Alpaca, the Suri and the Huacaya.  I have both on my farm and adore working with both types of fleece although you will see that I am utterly in love with the Suri fleece.  I am going to share with you some photos of the two lock styles so you can see what the difference is between their fleeces.

This is a Suri Alpaca Fleece


This is a Huacaya Alpaca Fleece


This is a sample of Suri Luster (which this photo did not do justice)

Here is a sample attempting to show brightness on a Huacaya Alpaca
Suri Alpacas have Luster while Huacaya Alpacas have brightness 

This is a sample of the Suri lock opened up....notice no crimp

 This is a sample of a Huacaya fleece opened up
When I am assessing a fleece, I want to open the locks up so I can look at the fibers.

 As you can see, there is a big difference between the two fleece styles.  As a hand spinner, I enjoy working with both Suri and Huacaya.  When I first got my Suri, I wasn't sure how to process the fleece because every breeder I had talked to just didn't know what to do with the fleece and many mills seemed to discourage Suri breeders from processing their fleeces by charging more to process.  I now understand the fleece and have created amazing roving and batts using my Strauch Drum Carder or Viking Combs.  Now I must say that I do slow the process down but (and that is a big BUT) you would do the same if you were processing Mohair, Bamboo, Silk, Angora, Pygora, etc.  I hope this helps anyone who has wondered about the two types of Alpaca.

A special thank you to my Sweet Petunia of Wonder, the adorable Black Huacaya and the wonderful Sexy Rexy of Wonder, the gorgeous fawn Suri for letting me enjoy their fleece.  I know that they definitely prefer when I play with their fleece when it's off of the back rather than when I am picking hay out of their fleece while they are still wearing it ;-)



Friday, June 17, 2011

Fiber Arts Friday - Weaving Gift

Welcome to Fiber Arts Friday!  Each week Fiber Artists from around the world meet here to share their adventures in Fiber Arts.  So...what are you waiting for?  Link your Fiber Arts Blog in and share in the fun.  If you visit, please leave a comment and join the Fiber Arts Fun!

Last week I warped my loom to create a scarf for my manager.  It is a gorgeous fingering weight Alpaca blend yarn (not my handspun).  She wears scarves throughout the year and I wanted to share the Wonder of Alpaca...and weaving with her.  I know, not your typical birthday gift from an employee but not all employees are like me, eh?   

I am very pleased with how the scarf turned out.  I changed the way I beat the yarn throughout the scarf so that the colors would give a different look. 

I didn't realize that I only had a week to work on this project so everything else was put to the side so I could weave in the evenings.  Fingering weight yarn takes a whole lot longer than worsted weight yarn to weave.  As you can see, I added a couple rows of nylon bling yarn to give a little pizzaz to the scarf.  It's wide enough that it can be folded in half yet narrow enough that you don't have to if you want a wee bit more fabric to show.  I do have to admit that although this scarf is very soft, if the yarn had been knitted it would feel even softer. I am not sure if I am still beating the yarn too yarn and I need to be looser with my weaving or if it's just the nature of weaving.  There is still so much for me to learn about weaving and although I have only touched the tip of techniques, I also see that I have a world of learning to gain from the various fibers that are used.

I am already warping my loom again (yes, dear brother, not re-warping) with this same Alpaca yarn but I plan to weave using 100% Silk lace weight yarn.  I am not sure how this will work but if it goes as planned then I will have a truly delicious scarf for me!  Yes...me!  Now share your adventures in Fiber Arts.
Fiber Arts Friday Blog Carnival! 

To participate:
  1. Submit your blog article using your current blog address NOT your complete blog  i.e. you would submit 
http://wonderwhyalpacafarm.blogspot.com/2010/02/e-i-e-i-doh.html  
NOT 
http://wonderwhyalpacafarm.blogspot.com
  1. Link back to Fiber Arts Friday from your post so that your readers can come and see everyone else’s projects! Text link to  WISDOM BEGINS IN WONDER!   
  2. Visit as many of the other participants as possible and leave comments! That’s what helps us all connect!
Check out these wonderful blogs:

Friday, June 10, 2011

Fiber Arts Friday - Spinning Song

Welcome to Fiber Arts Friday!  Each week Blogging Fiber Artists come here to share their adventures in Fiber Arts so grab a cup of coffee and sit back on enjoy the great posts. This week I am going to share with you my spinning.   Whoa!  Me spin? 

Well, long before I was sitting behind a spinning wheel I would spend hours at a piano.  Once upon a time, long long ago I went to college to become a music teacher.  Obviously that didn't happen and unfortunately I don't play my piano much anymore either. It's a shame since I started playing when I was ten years old.  Honestly, I've always enjoyed playing when no one else is around and in my house full of bears, it's hard to find alone time.  The other night I found myself home alone...and as I was looking through my sheet music, I came upon The Spinning Song written by Albert Ellmenreich.  I remember playing that song for some performance or another when I was younger and always kept it handy because it was a fun tune and regardless the level of music you play or can read, it's always nice to go back to the basics.  I picked it up and attempted to play the old tune and realized that I really need to play more.  Anyways...every so often as I am spinning that song goes through my head and I thought I'd share that because anytime an addictive song is in my brain, I attempt to infect it into others.  Your are welcome ;-)

It also makes me think about when people spin then take a break from spinning then start up again.  I was talking to someone the other day who was super frustrated because she hadn't touched her wheel in ages and when she started to spin, everything just wasn't working right.  Can one "get out of practice" with spinning? Should we return to some "basic" worsted weight yarn before attempting that fine fingering or lace weight?  Art yarn?  

This week I have been attempting to label all of the yarn that I have spun since Christmas (that I haven't gifted, sold or knitted myself) in preparations for festival season coming up. (I took more photos on the Droid but I've been getting network errors since last night.  Do I blame Picassa or Verizon?  I bet it's Verizon...argh!)  I have 26 new skeins that have sticky notes stuck in their folds until I can make nice labels.  Not the most efficient method but at least they are labeled.  I promised myself I wouldn't spin anymore until I got all of these labeled but...I already have a bunch of bobbins ready to be plied.  Maybe if I play my Spinning Song a magical label fairy will come and get my yarn all ready to be sold...it's worth a try.   Surprisingly, most of my yarns were shades of gray, purple and green.   I guess it's time for some brighter colors to be dyed.

On the knitting front, I am finally knitting the heel of my second Walking on Sunshine sock and I am finally making some progress on the scarf that I'm weaving (and I wonder why I don't play the piano anymore).  So...what fiber arts adventures have you had this week?

Fiber Arts Friday Blog Carnival! 

To participate:
  1. Submit your blog article using your current blog address NOT your complete blog  i.e. you would submit 
http://wonderwhyalpacafarm.blogspot.com/2010/02/e-i-e-i-doh.html  
NOT 
http://wonderwhyalpacafarm.blogspot.com
  1. Link back to Fiber Arts Friday from your post so that your readers can come and see everyone else’s projects! Text link to  WISDOM BEGINS IN WONDER!   
  2. Visit as many of the other participants as possible and leave comments! That’s what helps us all connect!
Check out these wonderful blogs:

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

WIP Wednesday - Still Walking on Sunshine

It's been a busy week here on the farm between the awful heat and the end of the school year activities, I am whipped.  Of course, no matter how tired I may seem I always have time for Fiber Arts. I've been busy knitting, spinning and weaving...oh my!  I plan to post more on my spinning for Fiber Arts Friday so I'll focus on the Weaving and Knitting for today.

My manager has a birthday coming up and the my office mates are going together to get her a gift certificate.  I am not doing that...I am weaving her a scarf.  She always wears scarves and I weave so why not weave her a fabulous Alpaca scarf?  I am using a delicious Alpaca blend yarn in a fingering weight.  Two tones of Green with a few strands of Nylon bling to add a little pizzaz.  I am varying how I beat the yarn to add additional texture to the design.  I will need to keep on top of this because 6 feet of fingering weight weaving will take a wee bit more time than what I've been used to. 

I am still knitting my second sock.  I am holding true to only knitting at lunch so it is taking FOREVER!  Another couple of rows and I will start the heel flap.  I've already decided that once I finish this sock I will tear out the toe on my first sock and add just a bit more length on to it.  I've tried it on a few times now and although it fits...I want a comfortable fit that won't wear the yarn out so...I will get some help to properly tear out the toe and fix it but...first things first.  Finish sock number two.  Argh!

There's my mid-week WIP update.  Now I am going to show you what I rescued from my weed beds.  Yes, some people have flower beds but I seem to cultivate weeds.  I took this bouquet to work so I could enjoy them in my office.

Finally, Sweet Petunia was checking me out in the early morning hours.  I've been going out to the barn early in the morning before I get around for work so I can check the water levels and also see if my Midnight Aire is ready to give birth yet...she's not, the little stinker.  Anyways, Sweet Petunia never fails to bring a smile.  She is such a little darling.  Happy Wednesday!
For more WIP Wednesday Projects, check out Tami's Blog and for Alpaca Photos, Check out Alpacabytes.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tour de Fleece 2011 - THE Alpaca Fiber Lovin' Team of Wonder

It's that time of year again!  Spinners, dust your wheels off and gather your roving because Tour de Fleece 2011 starts in less than a month.  The Team of Wonder has organized for our second year and went international yet again with spinners who love Alpaca.  This year our official name is The Team of Wonder - THE Alpaca Fiber Lovin' Team

We hope that our team members spin Alpaca at least one day during the event.  You are not required to spin Alpaca exclusively although that would be pretty awesome if you did. It's that simple.

To sign up, visit our Team Thread on Ravelry and let us know you want to be a part of the team.  We'll have prizes and lots of fun.  This is a great way to share Alpaca spinning techniques and also get your Alpaca Fiber questions answered.


tourdefleece2011,team of wonder,wonderwhyalpacafarm,alpaca,spinning,ravelry

Please feel free to grab a button and show your support of the Team of Wonder plus this logo is super awesome to show off! Thanks again to the amazing Crystal for creating it last year.  Hopefully all of our team members will use our wonderful logo as their Ravatar during the Tour de Fleece 2011. We also have team t-shirts you can order to show your team spirit.  Join our team and experience the Wonder of Alpaca!

Photobucket

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Girls on the Run 2011

Sister Bear competed in the GOTR (Girls on the Run) 5K on Thursday at Binder Park Zoo.  I am so proud of her and not because she was fast or even because she competed in the race; I am proud of her because of the positive self-awareness she has gained through the program this year.  I see it in her smile and in her walk.

From the GOTR Website:

The Girls on the Run Program
 

Mission
To educate and prepare girls for a life time of self-respect and healthy living.


About
Girls on the Run® is a life-changing, experiential learning programs for girls age eight to thirteen years old. The programs combine training for a 3.1 mile running event with self-esteem enhancing, uplifting workouts. The goals of the programs are to encourage positive emotional, social, mental, spiritual and physical development.


Objectives
The objective of Girls on the Run is to educate and empower girls at an early age in order to prevent the display of at-risk activities in the future. At risk activities include substance/alcohol use, eating disorders, early onset of sexual activity, sedentary lifestyle, depression, suicide attempts and confrontations with the juvenile justice system.

  It's the second year that she has been in the program and participated in the 5K.  After each practice I would pick Sister Bear up on my way home from work and she would talk to me about all the topics that were discussed during that day's meetup.  Many times our discussion would go all the way to bedtime with more questions that she may have for me or stories she had to share. 

Last year was a rough year for my darling daughter and she almost didn't race or even complete the program but this year has been a remarkable year in our relationship at home and her relationships with classmates at school.  This year's GOTR program hit just the right buttons needed for self growth.  I have to admit, I've learned a lot from that bear.


Even Brother Bear got into the spirit of the day.  He wanted to give his sister a flower for being an awesome runner.  He also asked if he could run with her next year.

I have to laugh at the energy my bear had on race day.  She was up at the crack of dawn ready to go even though the race didn't start until 6:30pm then as soon as she finished the race, she took a swig of her Gatorade then headed for the bouncy room line.  Where does all of that energy come from?


I love you, Sister Bear!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Fiber Arts Friday - Fiber Arts Friends

Welcome to Fiber Arts Friday!  Each week Fiber Artists from around the world meet here to share their adventures in Fiber Arts.  So...what are you waiting for?  Link your Fiber Arts Blog in and share in the fun.  If you visit, please leave a comment and join the Fiber Arts Fun!

A few weeks back I visited the Michigan Fiber Fiesta with Melissa whose blog is  Needle and Wheel Designs who also owns Lissabeth Alpacas and works at my favorite local yarn shop, Your Local Yarn Shop but most importantly has been a wonderful friend.  Really, with credentials like those she should be...just kidding.  She is an amazing lady and super fun to have around for a day full of fiber arts.  If you haven't had a chance to read her blog or follow her, you should.  Every time I turn around I am learning about more talents that she has either mastered or dabbled in.

Anyways, we left our farms for the day to check out this event which was in it's second year.  What we found out is that we are two well-connected ladies.  Between the two of us, we knew just about every in building.  We spent the day catching up with fellow fiber artists and meeting some of our blogging and Ravelry friends for the first time in person.  Twirly Curly Bird aka Melissa Plank who also contributes to Fiber Arts Friday via her Curly Bird Express blog was one of the vendors along with Tamara Miller from Via Verde Farm, whose blog you will also find linked in on most Fridays.  Now, Tamara and I have known each other for quite some time because of the Alpaca community but Melissa is someone who I have admired from afar.

Now Melissa only lives about two hours from me but it seems likes more since I never seem to make the various Spinning meetups that the Grand Rapids Area Spinners have.  I love the yarns she creates and the beautiful colors she dyes and sells in her Etsy shop.   Her color palette and mine are definitely not the same but I am always longing to play with her creations.  I finally got to see these colors in person and her photos keep true to the beautiful colors and textures she promotes.  I bought one of her kits in colors that are un-Andrea like.  The Art Yarn kit included an art batt, braid of wool and dyed tulle.  The goal was for me to break away from my traditional yarn and experiment with different textures.  Here is the LINK to what Melissa created with the same kit last December and as you can see from the photos I'm posting today, I came up with a totally different yarn.   I ended up with 200 yards of two-ply yarn full of tulle bows that I plyed into the yarn and lots of textured "nubbys".  I would spin thick then thin and just let whatever the art batt had in it drive the thickness of the singles so when I plyed the yarn I ended up with a very inconsistent but lively yarn.

Now, I am totally bored with scarves but I envision either a sassy cowl or a funky hat being knitted out of this yarn.  It was a lot of fun and I think I am going to experiment with her dyed cocoons to add to my yarn next. 

I am so happy to have finally met another amazing blogging and Ravelry friend.  Fiber Festivals, no matter the size, are a perfect place to meet up.  One day I hope to meet you too. Now...share your adventures in Fiber Arts!


Fiber Arts Friday Blog Carnival! 


To participate:
  1. Submit your blog article using your current blog address NOT your complete blog  i.e. you would submit 
http://wonderwhyalpacafarm.blogspot.com/2010/02/e-i-e-i-doh.html  
NOT 
http://wonderwhyalpacafarm.blogspot.com
  1. Link back to Fiber Arts Friday from your post so that your readers can come and see everyone else’s projects! Text link to  WISDOM BEGINS IN WONDER!   
  2. Visit as many of the other participants as possible and leave comments! That’s what helps us all connect!
Check out these wonderful blogs: