Friday, 22 August 2014

New Alpaca Yarn for Autumn

I've totally failed in my New Year's Resolution of blogging more often. I've finally accepted that I'll probably only manage to do it about three times a year. I enjoy everyone else's blogs though, this can be quite a solitary life so it helps to find out about others trials and triumphs.

I hope everyone's had a good summer. We had a year off mating last year and I've missed not having any cria on the ground this summer. Now we've sold a couple of our boys I plan to try and get some of our good females mated before the autumn kicks in. So hopefully we'll hear the pitter patter of tiny pronking in the paddock next year. In the mean-time we've had lots of grass this summer and our alpacas are slightly too fat as a result. All the muddy areas from last winter are fully pastured again and the hedgerows are hanging with blackberries and elderberries - lovely.

Yesterday the yarn from this year's shear arrived back from the Border Mill. I'm pleased with the quality and can't wait to get knitting. Back in January I bought a LK150 knitting machine as I cannot keep up with demand just hand-knitting. This is a beginners knitting machine and I've found learning to use it pretty easy. I've been churning out scarfs, cowls, socks, wrist-warmers and beanies. The results give a professional, even-tensioned finish. The stitches are different to hand-knitting, I haven't yet got to grips with cabling and it doesn't come with a ribber so you have to do a fake rib. We still produce hand-knits but I have to say I love my knitting machine for speed!

Here's a picture of it in action (I'm making a cowl):

And here's our yarn from the 2014 shear:

It's all hands on deck now to get knitting for the autumn markets!

Monday, 6 January 2014

Rain, a Randy Alpaca and Roll-on Spring!

Happy New Year Everyone!!

The rain has driven me inside and forced me to update my blog at last! Like everyone else we've been taking action against the mud and bog over the last few days to keep our girls and boys as clean and dry as possible. We live on a hill, our land is sloping and has good drains so we are lucky enough never to have standing water in our paddocks, but our barn isn't big enough to house all our alpacas and the entrances to the field shelters are getting muddy! So we've been laying stone and using hurdles to try and save the ground. It's not too bad but I'm ready for winter to be over already!

On the day before Christmas Eve, just as we were in the eye of the storm of pre-Christmas preparations, our un-neutered boy Boris suddenly decided that he wanted a girlfriend. He's now 3 and until recently he was such a quiet and gentle boy that we'd decided to keep him entire and wait and see how he got on. He also has a slight heart murmur so I didn't want to risk an operation if it was unnecessary. However on the 23rd December (great timing) I found him half-way over the fence into the girls paddock orgling like crazy. It must have been the sherry and mince pies. Anyway he's now on the vet castration list for this Thursday and the girls are in another paddock. This was a lesson learned. In the future I'll always castrate my non-stud males.

We had a fantastic autumn selling our yarn and knitwear. We couldn't keep up with orders and did really well at the Christmas markets. There is so much demand out there for well-made alpaca products.Our business model relies on our cottage-industry brand and people love to see photos of the actual alpacas that their gloves or beanie come from. It's extremely rewarding but super hard-work. Before Christmas I was knitting about 6 hours a day for a month! We've got plans to work smarter in 2014.

Here's our stall at Frome Artisan Market:

My new year resolution is to do more blogging. Let's see if I can stick to it.. ;-)