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Small, Quick Projects for the Dog Days of Summer

It’s hot. I think it’s hot just about everywhere in the Northern Hemisphere. My friends in LA and Oregon have been talking about trees becoming sunburned and the forests dying. And we here on the East Coast are stuck in the heat and humidity of summer.

Knitting becomes more of a chore in summer. Even so, I feel like I need to have the rhythmic motion of slip, wrap, slide of each stitch to let my mind get into a flow and to let my mind wander. I don’t want a big project that is sitting in my lap. I want something small and light.

I have some perfect little cowls that fit the bill. They are quick. They are smallish. The yarn is Oh-So Soft and gives your fingers joy just touching it.

What are they? They are my Zephyrette Cowls. Zephyrette is our signature yarn. It is made from soft baby alpaca fleece with long, strong silk and the king of all softness: Cashmere. Alpaca is cool to the touch. So it is a good choice for summer knitting.

There are 3 choices of pattern: Lacy Cowl, Interlaken and Rivulet.

Here’s how you get a kit for a project. First, go here and pick a color of zephyrette. There are so many choices. You just need one skein. Then go here and pick a pattern. Click on the shopping cart and check out. Your new project will be out in the mail to you and you will get it within days.

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Next Crafting Event: Hellenics Games 2021

That’s what I’m going to call it anyway. In years past, there were Ravelry groups and the event was called Ravellenics. But since it’s basically crickets on Ravelry, I’m picking my name.

So here’s what this event is about…. It is an event for all crafters. The goal is to craft each and every day of the current Olympic games. Each crafter can set their own goal as well. Some people in the past have set the goal to start and finish a particular project during those 2 weeks, such as a pair of socks or a hat or maybe an embroidery.

My goal is to make good progress towards my new Fibershed, handspun top. I will be casting on Friday and working towards completion. I’m not sure I can get enough knitting time to actually finish but I would like to be about half way done by that time. My ultimate goal is to have that top ready by the Fall Fiber shows: Shenandoah and Rhinebeck.

I am forming a team for this year’s games. Are you ready? The opening ceremonies are Friday. And the closing ceremonies are August 8th. That’s 2 weeks. To be a part of my team follow my Facebook group here. Introduce yourself and let us know what your goal is. Each day I will start a thread about that day so that you can post your updates and some photos. It is really fun to be a part of a community all working at the same time. What will you be making?

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Stash Appreciation–Alpaca Part 2

What about alpaca yarn?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Doc from Grindstone Ridge Farm

Remember I said it was really warm. When you consider making a garment with alpaca, consider the warmth requirements of the wearer. Don’t make a sweater for someone with hot flashes, just sayin’. But that same lovely person, may have cold feet, perhaps a nice pair of alpaca socks would be a better choice.

Alpaca yarn, when knitted, produces a drapey, dense, relaxed fabric. This is amazing with the right garment, but this characteristic can be challenging as well. Drapey and relaxed fabric can also stretch out of shape and a dense fabric can be too warm or too heavy.

nimbus group

What kind of stitches work with 100% alpaca yarn? In stockinette, it will show off any variability in your knitting. So if you are not a consistent knitter (I can be very inconsistent), you should consider paring this yarn up with textured stitches like moss or seed stitch. Because the fiber tends to be very heavy and dense, a pattern with cables is going to be too heavy and the garment may pull out of shape from the shear weight of itself. A lace pattern might be a better choice. Still because alpaca is not elastic and is not resilient, a garment made with 100% alpaca should have enough stitch structure to hold the fiber in shape. You are probably saying to yourself, I’ve seen lovely alpaca sweaters. Yes it can be done. You just might want to consider a yarn that is a blend of alpaca and loftier, more elastic wool. A blend like that will allow you to make your cables and reduce the density of the sweater in the end. And an alpaca wool blend yarn can help your lace stay in it’s original size and shape.

Finally washing, when you wash an alpaca garment, take care not to pull it out of shape. Support the weight of the wet garment, so that it doesn’t stretch. And block carefully. The fiber itself won’t spring back like wool will.

Nimbus in Deep Ocean Colorway
Nimbus in Deep Ocean Colorway

Flying Goat Farm has a 100% alpaca yarn called Nimbus. It is  2-ply, sport weight yarn. We sell skeins of 200 yards. It is made with superfine alpaca fiber grown and milled in Peru. This yarn is next to the skin soft. It has a slight halo to the yarn. It is perfect for a cowl, shawl or scarf yet strong enough for hand warmers, socks or a hat. It would look great as a luxurious shawl to wear to the symphony. It is light weight enough to provide just enough warmth on a chilly spring or summer evening outing. It is perfect for a complicated lace pattern, yet will look fabulous in a seed stitch cowl that you can wear on the ski slope. It is soft enough for a newborn baby sweater too.

nimbus baby sweater

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A Year of Stash Appreciation–Mohair

relaxed goat

Mohair is such a favorite of mine. Of course, I would love it since I have a fiber flock of angora goats with lots of mohair on the hoof, so to speak.  According to Clara Parkes’ book, The Knitter’s Book of Yarn, “Goats with silken hair” were referenced in the 14th century BC, but the angora goats that we know of today were domesticated near Ankara, Turkey in the 13th century AD. She writes that the word “mohair” is a variation of the Arabic word mukhayar, which means “to choose”. Perhaps because the European buyers were always “choosing” it.

carmela

Mohair grows very quickly, approximately 1 inch per month. Therefore the goats need to be sheared every 6 months or so.  The staple length is long compared to many wool staples.  The fibers themselves are long and hairlike, with large flat scales. This means that the fibers become highly reflective and full of luster.

microscopic mohair

Because of these characteristics, mohair takes dye beautifully. As a dyer I can achieve clear, saturated color that is very shiny.  Like wool, mohair puts itself out if it is set on fire. It is very warm and insulating as well.  It is very strong so it is used for textiles that get a lot of wear, like upholstery.

Kid mohair is the softest mohair.  As the animal ages, the fibers grow thicker and stronger. Mohair can be classified as kid for 2-3 shearings usually.  In some very good breeding lines, kid mohair classification can go on many years.

 FGF mohair

I use my mohair in various ways.  I love to blend it with my wools. I have a sock yarn that uses adult mohair for strength and luster instead of nylon.psock

I have also used soft kid mohair with my squishy cormo or my lustrous BFL to make a worsted weight yarn to be used in warm sweaters, hats, mittens, etc.  fingal sweater front

I have also had 100% mohair made into yarns. A single ply that can be used for tapestry weaving although recently many knitters have been buying these mini skeins for doll clothes or to create gradient cowls or scarves.tapestry2blog

 A 2 ply that is sport weight that can be used for outerwear garments or nice strong warps for woolen blankets.  I also love using 100% mohair roving with my new spinning students, since it is very easy to draft and makes a nice yarn for a beginner spinner.

During this month, I’ll be sharing what I know about mohair, its blends, fancy yarns and patterns in which mohair can shine.  Have you used mohair in your knitting, crocheting, weaving or spinning? Please share in the comments.