Friday, July 3, 2015

Fiber Arts Friday: AOA National Fleece Conference

The new Alpaca Owner's Association (AOA) held it's First (hopefully annual) National Fleece Conference in Denver last weekend.

Since it was so close, there was little question as to whether I would attend.  Even without the schedule or session topics published, I was one of (if not the) first to register.  As fiber-producing animals, a viable commercial fleece market is essential to the alpaca industry and what I hoped would be covered to some degree.

My hopes were more than met.

The work that some of my alpaca brethren are doing is amazing.  The commercial demand for US Alpaca is there, both nationally and internationally.  We, as growers, are here.  The conduit between is immature, but appears to be working.

One of the Student Textile Design finalists using alpaca.

My goals for entering the alpaca industry has always had a commercial component.  Doing it after-hours has taken longer than I had hoped and of course the economic crash didn't help things.  But I left the conference feeling excited and energized.

I made a few contacts with people who are doing the kinds of things I've been looking for and I reconnected with other people I knew before we moved to our own farm.  So I still have a few emails to send and several documents and websites to read.

Over 500 fleeces entered in the fleece show, of which this is a very small selection.

I offered to give sessions about preparing for Shearing Day next time and Livestock Guardian Dogs (LGD) for another future event.  Which I've already started to draft.  ;-)

The Fashion Student Design winner and Designer's Choice using alpaca textiles.

If you are a designer, artist, manufacture, producer, grower, or even just fancier of alpaca, I urge you to attend next year's event.  It is well worth the time and expense.

To quote Wini Labrecque, one of the fleece judges; "This is a great step forward to be able to improve pricing and marketing abilities for fleece.  We all need to step out of the past and embrace this forward movement."

Happy Fiber Arts Friday!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Fiber Arts Friday : Preparing Tibetan Mastiff Undercoat for Spinning

I washed it.

Carded it.

Pulled it through a diz. 


The Tour de Fleece starts on the 4th. 

Happy Fiber Arts Friday!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Fiber Arts Friday: Pinocchio's Cashmere

I finished spinning these singles last week.

Since I broke the yarn a few times while spinning and prefer to make joins while working on the final project, I ended up with 5 separate singles totaling 34 yards and 1/4 ounce.

It took me almost 3 weeks of spindling 10-15 minutes during the lunch hour at the Day Job.

I love spinning cashmere.  Love, love, love it.  Good thing I have more in my stash....

Happy Fiber Arts Friday!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Fiber Arts Friday: Spinning Silk

I have been spinning silk off and on since last summer.

This is my first time with 100% silk.  It was squeaky and a little sticky when drafting but I love the color and the rustic texture of the finished yarn.  So I have mixed feelings about it.

Breaking the roving into thinner sections helped with the drafting, and it definitely mattered which end I started from.

I want to try hankies, so I will give it at least another try or two before I make a "final" decision on whether I like spinning 100% silk.  ;-)

I was going back and forth between plying and leaving this as a single.

So when I broke the yarn while winding it into a cake, I decided to ply only the smaller portion.

This has yet to have a bath, but you can see that my plying was not very consistent... some is loose and some is tighter.  

I'm fairly certain I am going to leave the rest as a single since I have a vague idea for a weaving.

Happy Fiber Arts Friday!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Shearing Season

I'm always trying to come up with something profound to say on this subject.  But the simple truth is, if you're just calling now because it's finally getting warm, you are going to wait.

photo taken by Johnny Robson
  • May and June are high season around here for shearing.
  • There is a shortage of good shearers.
  • Most schedules have been set for months.
My schedule is generally firm and full by February.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Good Night Chiva

Having a farm is mostly rewarding.  But some days are harder than others.

I had been wondering how much longer Chiva would be with us.  The last couple of winters had been tough on him.

He was older, but not "old."

He had a famous father, but poor conformation and skin issues that we could not get ahead of.

He was gelded early on and never a sire, but he was protective of the smaller alpacas.  So we would bring him into the Mom and Cria Corral a few weeks before we would separate the young boys from their mommas.

Chiva made weaning easier.  The little boys always had a friend who would stick up for them when the bigger boys would start to bully them.

I found him in the pasture Sunday afternoon within an hour of his passing.

His herdmates and protectors had already said their good-byes.

We're sad, even though we knew it was coming.

Chiva in younger days

Crescent Moon's Chivalry, we've enjoyed knowing you.  Thank you for being part of our herd.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Saturday Morning Visitors

These two young bachelor Mule Deer spent the morning in our front yard enjoying the shade of our Blue Spruce.

This is the first time I've seen deer on our property.  With so many close neighbors the deer are typically a couple of miles west of us.

A nice distraction from Saturday morning chores.  ;-)