Sunday, July 10, 2016

Alpaca Yarn

Our Wild Ramp Yarn Therapy group planned a visit to an Alpaca Farm for Friday, July 8.  Sally Summerfield found the farm by serendipity on her way back from the summer vacation in Michigan.  I had seen many Alpacas in Peru and wasn't sure that I was that excited about seeing a few more.  But I like the group that was going and I offered to drive.  After finding a substitute for tennis, I was committed to the trip.

The location of the farm is just south of Columbus:

Robin and Aaron were very welcoming.  Aaron is very quiet.  But Robin is a natural at sharing her passion for these animals.  There is no doubt that the family is is committed to running a very efficient, clean, modern production farm.  As Robin said many times, there is a lot of feeding, watering, and poop scooping that goes on at this farm.  I was fascinated!  I just couldn't quit asking questions and taking in how much thought goes into this place!  The animals clearly love Robin and she clearly loves the animals.

Since our group is interested in yarn, we spent a great deal of time (after our tour of the animals) talking with her our thoughts of how best to market the fleeces of her flock.  She is not a knitter nor does she do any craft that uses her fleeces.  She loves the animals.  Robin provided lunch for us which we had not expected.   She absolutely did everything in her power to make us feel welcome!

The highlight of the day was, of course, diving into her wonderful yarn.  Because Robin nor Aaron are knitters, they had turned all of the fleece from previous years into DK weight yarn.  One of our suggestions was that in the future, they might want to make some of them into fingering and worsted weigh yarn.  But the DK weight yarn is lovely!  Even though I am embarrassed at my stash at the moment, I could not resist the temptation to buy several skeins.  Here is my new addition to my stash:

All of the yarn is in the natural colors of the flock.  The light yarn comes from a blend of the fleece of Addison and Gabby.  The almost black come from a blend of Timbo, Ashton, Avery and Renegade.
The grey comes from a blend of Jewell, Adorable, and Caesar.

The yarn is processed at America's Natural Fireworks near Cincinnati.  

I bought both the light and the very dark yarn to make the beautiful cowl that Sally Summerfield produced in a cooperative agreement between herself and Robin on her last visit.  Robin sent yarn home with Sally.  Sally took the finished result back to the shop on our visit.  The Cowl is for sale through Robin's shop.  The two women will divide up the profit made on the finished Cowl.

I took this photo from the Facebook page of our Wild Ramp Yarn Therapy group:

Sally used the pattern that she found on Ravelry by Louise Felice called Lacy Cowl:

I am not convinced that the cowl on Ravelry is as large as the one that Sally made.  Sally said that she sewed a rectangle together that I measured to be 30 inches by 14 inches.  Sally said that it took 300 yards of Alpaca yarn to produce.  I am thinking that she explained that the cowl is a a multiple of nine stitches plus four.  And that she added an extra 9 or 18 or 27 stitches to the pattern in order to make it the 14 inches.  She said that she used size 10 needles to make it so open and loose.  It is honestly even prettier in person, although this is a very good photo. 

The grey I might use for a larger project and I bought 5 skeins of it.  The label on the skeins says 175 yards + or - I am thinking that I have around 875 yards of yarn in DK weight.  

We also looked at a cowl that is for sale in Robin's shop that was made by a friend of Robin's.  The lady made a rectangle that is 34-35 inches long and 11 inches wide.  When she sewed it together, she offset the edges halfway.  I am not sure that I can explain it, so I'll include a rough hand drawn picture.  The edge of one side was sewn to the middle of the other side (5 1/2inches from edge).

Because of the very dark yarn, the photo does not show the cowl very well.  The lady actually used crochet that looks very much like a very heavy ribs.  She had used at least four yarn plies held together.  It was very heavy.  But very pretty.

One more thought before I publish this, I asked on the way home what size needles the women in the car thought that we might want to use on this yarn.  Since it is DK weight, one might expect to knit on size 5-7 needles.  I found this information on a great chart on the following site:

So my real question is if I double it what might I expect.  The consensus of opinion is that if one doubles DK yarn, ....oh phooey, I can't remember for sure....I'll add this after I ask again on Tuesday.

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