Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Last cria for 2010

Areia is the last cria for us this year. She is the daughter of our dame, Tula and her sire is Smokey from Ashton Stone Farms. Check out their blog at http://ashtonstone.blogspot.com . She was born on Sunday at around 4 pm. Last year Tula had a more difficult birth. With Areia, she delivered in 15 minutes. I was there to see the whole event. The last few days Tula had been sitting in the shelter and isolating herself a bit. When she began delivery she was resting in the shelter while the rest of the herd was grazing. She walked to the bean pile and kept turning her head to see what was happening at her behind. I figured it might take a while but I was mistaken. She walked around, got down on the ground, walked back to the shelter, sat down, got up and delivered! She was very quiet until the cria arrived and then she just kept talking to her new baby. I moved them up to the barn and within 45 minutes Areia was speaking to her mother. Birth is a miraculous event. This is my 7th cria to be born on our farm. With each birth I am excited and anxious as I was when our first cria arrived, Quito, 1 1/2 years ago.
I try to stay out of the birthing process and let the mom do her job. Alpacas are very sufficient at taking care of their own delivery and care of their newborn crias. I only intervene if necessary and so far that has not happened. Thankfully. NowI will have to patiently wait until late next spring for the arrival of a new cria.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Friday Fiber Arts - Stripe dyeing with Wilton Dyes

I was rummaging through some fiber stash and found a smallish roving of Rambouillet. I decided this fine piece would be perfect to stripe dye and try to work out some kinks in my Wilton dye experimentations. I really cannot commit to dyeing alpaca until I make sure that all goes well on other types of fiber...sorry Rambouillet. Rambouillet also known as French Merino. This breed was developed in 1786 with a flock of Spanish Merino was purchased by Louis XVI. Rambouillet yields a good meat and a fine grade wool.

First I choose sky blue and true blue as my colors. I mixed some of the Wilton dye paste in a mason jar with a bit of vinegar and water. I placed the roving on a piece of saran wrap. I organized the fiber in a snake shape. Using a pastry brush that I dipped into the dye I dabbed the colors onto the fiber. When I had completely dyed the roving I wrapped it up in the saran wrap and placed in it a microwaveable container. On high heat for one minute I cooked the roving. I let it rest for a minute and then cooked it for another minute. I continued this process alternating between cooking 1 minute (total 10 minutes) and rest 1 minute (total 10 minutes).
I then unwrapped the fiber, rinsed it and hung it to dry. Voila!

Before spinning:
Unfortunately my photos are not showing the variation of colors. They are similar yet very rich and deep. I have the before and after spinning. I quickly spun some on a bobbin that had fawn alpaca on it. Therefore you might see a bit peaking out from underneath the blue. The entire roving is about 3 1/2 inches wide. I carefully separated strips lengthwise, about 1/8" wide and spun them.

After spinning:

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Welcome Esmeralda

I calculated the dates when Meddlin Millie was to have her cria. Obviously i was off. Not sure how this happened. I usually can pinpoint fairly accurately. I thought MM might have her cria in a week. So yesterday I was busy with a pellet stove in our studio above the garage. I lit it early in the morning so the studio would be warm by the time I finished feeding the animals. When I finally got up there two hours later the entire room was full of smoke. Grr. I spent the whole morning messing around with getting smoke out of the room and did not get to do all the fun things I had planned. Anyhow this explains why I did not see that a cria had been born. It was my son who relayed the exciting news. He had gotten a ride home with a friend and they were viewing the alpacas. He was very surprised to see Esmeralda in the pasture. He called me on his phone and said "There is a cria here." You can imagine what was running through my mind such as "Where are you?" ( I thought he was still at school) and "What are you talking about?" Sometimes teenagers really don't make any sense at all.
Long story short we have a beautiful new cria-FEMALE! And she seems she is going to be rose gray which is hardly surprising as her sire is a medium rose gray and is aptly named Andrew The Great.

This is Miriam and Esmeralda.
My son named Esmeralda. My family gets angry because I always name the crias. I told him my only condition is that he choose a name of a geographical location in South America. It is my "theme."

Pretty cute!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Wilton Cake Dyes and Alpaca FIber

Yes, you can dye with Wilton Cake dyes. I was attending a Woodland Weavers and Spinners spinning meeting. A woman was working on a beautiful skein of striped roving in blues and purples. I asked her how she had dyed it and was surprised to hear that she used Wilton Cake dye. She explained the method she had used and truly the results were magnificent. I could hardly contain my excitement. As soon as I arrived home I ran to my pantry to dig out all the Wilton dyes I never use. I was excited to see quite a few jars in an array of colors. Whoohoo!
Someone asked me to dye alpaca fiber in red, orange and green. The results of this effort are below. The only thing I have about deciding a specific color or result before I dye is that I loose the thrill of the surprise.
Try as I might, I was unable to get a deep red or a deep green. I will work with this dye possibly even combining it with Kool Aid, my friend, to see what I can accomplish. Meanwhile I like the psychedelic hues that emerged.

Sugar Plum ( I have no idea what a sugar plum is, unless of course it is an actual sugared plum-yuck (This color definitely conjures up sugar plums dancing in my head).

Spooky Orange-uh not really. It is a great color for Halloween. Not too dark/scary and not to light/whimpy. Middle ground orange/fun.

Christmasy Fluff-I know it is not as dark a an actual pine but it does have some elements of leaf/tree. Perhaps it is a bit too light for Christmas bling. I will have to work on this.

Sugar Plum 2-no comment other than my second attempt at red. What can I say? It will look great with the Christmasy Fluff in a bracelet. And yes, I would wear it.