Archive for the 'alpaca' Category

New Amigami Hat Designs – Keep Your Head Warm!

Amigami has been hard at work creating the 2011 Winter-Spring line, which includes several new hat designs to keep you warm on those cold spring mornings.

This pink & black striped hat is made of durable, machine-friendly acrylic, and features an oversized slouchy design and thick black ribbed brim.  The differing stripe widths and contrasting colors really make this beanie pop, and it is truly a wonderful addition to almost any winter wardrobe.  This hat is currently available for sale in our Etsy shop, and of course, I am always open to custom color and size requests.

This second hat made of ultra soft & warm alpaca, harvested personally from local alpacas by my partner.  This hat features black & blue stripes arranged in alternating clusters which allow the wearer’s head to breathe.  Although this specific hat has already been purchased, more will soon be available – contact me to place a custom color order.

Over 1 TON of Alpaca Fiber For Online Auction – Ends Thursday!

Local Frio Auction Service recently acquisitioned over one ton of various grades and color of alpaca fleece due to the closure of a regional fiber mill.  Over the last few weeks, my partner and I have been helping Frio Auction Service in sorting and cataloging this fleece to prepare it for auction.  Online bidding has already started, and if you would like to check out the lots or place a bid, please click here. The online auction will be complemented by a live auction taking place at 5 pm Thursday on 16th St. in downtown Wheeling.  All of the lots already have bids, and this may be the first exclusively fiber auction ever (or at least for this region), so make sure to check it out!

Alpaca Pinwheel Scarf and Hex Slippers

Upon searching the Ravelry pattern databases for fun scarf ideas, I came across a technique known as the Catherine Wheel, which creates a wonderfully eye-catching pattern.  The pinwheel effect is achieved by mirroring two rows of bunched crochet stitches, with narrow intermediary segments which are shaped by subsequent rows, forming this wave-like design.  It’s also very practical – the bunches become epicenters of warmth which shield against even the sharpest winter winds.

For these reasons, alpaca was the ideal material for me to create the Amigami Pinwheel Scarf.  The yarn used to craft this piece was created entirely from animals living in the Upper Ohio Valley regions of West Virginia and Pennsylvania, on farms we know personally.  My partner Ramon was the shearer responsible for collecting the raw fiber from these animals, and the white and two-tone yarns were handspun by the animals’ owners.  From hoof to hand, this beautiful scarf is the epitome of regional handmade crafts, and is truly a must-have for any winter wardrobe.  And lucky for you, they are available in my Etsy shop!

From the same skeins I’ve also created these ultra-warm Hexagon Slippers, named for the 6 sided panels which are used to form the shoes.  The three hexagons, stitched together in the center, are then stitched around a double thick sole, creating a durable and comfortable cushion for your foot.  I need to work with adjusting the sizing on these slippers before they are ready for sale, but if you are interested in some let me know and we can get started on a custom order.

Diagram for Year-Round Fiber Management

Anyone who regularly peruses my site knows I am a friend to the alpaca.  To this end, I have recently been assisting my partner (a true alpaca guru) in developing a series of lectures & workshops dedicated to improving the consistency of the spring fiber harvest.  While he’s been busy formulating the actual concepts, I’ve been charged with designing a series of teaching aids to clarify his major points.

This diagram is meant to be used as a sort of calendar of farm management, while taking into consideration all the major components of producing & selling the highest quality fiber possible.  Although it may seem a bit complex at first glance, the diagram’s basic emphasis is centered on completing the various management components bit by bit throughout the year (rather than everything within a few days).

"Fiber Cultivation & Organization" at the 2010 WV Fiber Festival

Ramon first debuted his lecture last month at the 1st Annual West Virginia “Wild ‘n’ Wooly” Fiber Festival (which by the way was a WONDERFUL event – thank you David, Judy & all the others who worked so hard to make this event a success!)  and we hope to continue this series at festivals and alpaca shows throughout the region.  Additionally, we hope to have videos of the seminars online in the near future, but for now, if you’d like more information on alpaca farm & fiber management, please contact my partner Ramon at DragonShearer@gmail.com.

National Alpaca Farm Days

The last week of September is celebrated by alpaca ranches nationwide as a time to open to the community and share their love of the animals.  This was Amigami’s second time observing the event, and this time not as a vendor but as a hetman (which is shearing speak for ‘assistant’).  We travelled to Lippencott Alpaca Farm outside of Waynesburg, PA, and were welcomed with open arms by Phil & Lena (the owners) as well as their whole family.  The set-up was spectacular, with a wide array of vendors, and a U-shaped pen which allowed visitors to walk ‘among’ the alpacas. Grandpa even gave hay rides, all weekend long!  Hundreds came to see the alpacas – it really was an event for the whole town.

Phil & Lena’s farm had 6 cria (baby alpaca) which needed their baby fleece shorn, so we agreed to come for the weekend and do the shearing as public demonstrations.  We experimented throughout the weekend with video taping these shearings.  We have one posted on YouTube, and we hope to have more in the near future (particularly once the spring shearing season gets under way).

In addition to working with the cria, we also had time to enjoy the event and the vendors who came to share their crafts.  There were spinners, a local fused glass artist, and even a local winery.  Everyone was so pleasant, and I especially want to thank Ms. Mary Briggs for taking the time to share her knitting prowess with my partner, Ramon.  He is currently hard at work on his first scarf, and he was even able to pass on her knowledge to me – now even I can knit (kind of…)  For my first project I made this cute little wallet pouch by simply knitting a rectangle, then folding it and crocheting up the sides and around the top flap.

Again, I can’t thank the Galing family enough for the incredible hospitality they showed us, as well as every visitor.  The setting was immaculate, and we couldn’t imagine a more enjoyable Farm Days weekend.  We will definitely be returning to Lippencott Alpacas next September!  And if you’re ever near the Waynesburg, PA area, you should definitely try to visit too!

Local News Visits Rancho Chico Alpacas

After all of the attention the alpaca ambassadors received at the Wheeling Moose Steak Fry, local news station WTRF visited Rancho Chico to do a story on the whole ranch!  Newswoman Leigh Ann Towne was fascinated by the alpacas at the steak fry, and was overjoyed by the idea of covering the ranch in her Everybody Has a Story segment on the nightly news.  I’m glad to have helped set up this interview, and I hope everyone involved had a fun time during filming (despite the heat).

To watch the WTRF news segment and read the article, Click Here!

2 Tone Suri Alpaca Beanie – 100% Handmade, From Cut To Crochet

This is hopefully only the first of many in a very special series of crochet work.  My partner Ramon travels the countryside each spring shearing alpacas, and a few weeks ago he returned with some of the fruits of his labor.

Mother Rasha & cria Morningstar, donors for the White fiber in this hat!

Amongst his clients is Vision Acres Ranch of Berkeley Country, West Virginia.  After the 2009 shearing season, Judy of Vision Acres began processing this high-quality alpaca fiber into exquisite hand-spun dual-toned yarn.  And it’s not just the dual coloring which makes this yarn unique – it is composed of 100% Suri Alpaca fiber.

Herdsire Scimitar (a.k.a. "Sam") contributed the brown yarn for this hat!

Suris, unlike their more popular fluffy Huacaya counterparts, feature fiber which forms natural locks, giving the final product an altogether different consistency and feel than your standard alpaca fiber.  Thank you to the Judy & everyone at Vision Ares Ranch for caring for these beautiful animals & creating the yarn, as well as to Ramon for shearing the alpacas and for bringing me spoils.

The hat is created using a modified version of a stylish beanie pattern I found in the Ravelry databases.  Unbelievably soft & warm, it’s also extremely breathable, making this hat a great year-round accessory.  Accented by a large natural-colored button I found in my mother’s vintage sewing supplies, this luxurious hat has certainly been given the personal touch from start to finish.


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