Tuesday, February 17, 2015

How Cold Is It?

Answer: It's so cold that this woman doesn't go outside to take pictures of animals or anything else!

And that, folks, is the reason that there have not been any new blog entries. A few weeks ago Rich and I did go out and corner Brutus and Asterius, our two yearlings (actually they are almost a year and a half) in order to see how long and how dense their fleece is this year. Both of them are pretty much fully fleeced out right now and have only two more months of growing to do since we will be shearing them the last weekend in April. I knew that Asterius was pretty dense because last spring his baby fleece netted almost 7 lbs of usable fleece. What I didn't expect, though, was that little Brutus has a very fine, long and dense fleece this year (remember, he's the one that is undersized for his age because his mother, Firenze, died when he was only 4 months old).


If you look closely at the pictures you can see the crimp, or tight wave, in their fleeces. This is what makes the fleece mill up into beautiful yarn. Under a microscope you would see that each individual fiber or hair is so fine that it cannot easily be seen by the naked eye. Especially eyes like mine that need glasses for reading! When I am trying to classify each fleece, I need to lay samples of the light ones on black paper and samples of the dark ones on white paper in order to determine the approximate micron count of the fibers. This fineness is what makes the yarn so soft against the skin when it is knitted into sweaters, scarves and other clothing items. It makes it perfect for baby sweaters like the one I recently made for the granddaughter of a friend.

I am currently knitting up some socks out of a multi-colored washable sock yarn that I bought on-line. The socks are for a teen aged girl who probably wouldn't appreciate the plain brown alpaca sock yarn that I have in the store. Nor would her mother appreciate the fact that they must be hand washed and air dried. I must say that knitting up the alpaca is much more pleasurable than knitting the mass produced sock yarn. I knitted the brown alpaca socks for Rich for Christmas and he loves them because they are lightweight, super soft and super warm; perfect for this exceptionally cold winter. I took a risk and put them through my new front loading washer on the special "wool" setting. They washed up beautifully and then I laid them on a towel to air dry overnight with no problem. So for anyone who likes to make socks but shied away from buying my alpaca blend for socks because of the hand wash thing, I urge you to try it just for the luxury of being able to say that you have alpaca socks. It takes two skeins of my $9 per skein yarn. At $18, that makes it less than many mass market sock yarns that cost $24 per pair of socks.

Little Mocha man is growing like a bad weed and really would like to be out in the pasture so that he could cut loose and run. He is doing his best to leap around the limited space in the barn and clearly irritating his mother, Mango, and aunt Leezza and grandmother, Took, every time he tries to chest butt them or jump on their backs. Unfortunately, he is so quick that I am not even trying to get a picture of that since it involves taking my hands out of my gloves in order to snap a picture. Sorry folks, all you get this week is re-cycled pictures.