I’ve just finished the book version of Alicia the Alpaca so it’s been another exciting week with another project satisfyingly ticked off the to-do list.
She now has a little blanket to wear because it can get very cold in the Peruvian Andes. Her blanket comes complete with panniers so she can go shopping at the local market and have somewhere to stash her bargain buys.
It was lots of fun playing around with different colour schemes and combinations and I managed to use up some of my smaller scraps of leftover yarn.
(This pattern will be appearing in Zoomigurumi 5, coming out around the beginning of next year).
I’ve gone a bit crazy about this alpaca and have ended up making eight so far. everytime I see a new colour in this fluffy yarn I get the urge to make another one!
I think I’ll be able to open a fully stocked alpaca farm at this rate. Maybe I’ll end up with so much spare fleece that I’ll never have to buy any more yarn. Although I’ll have to learn to spin first. A skill which has so far eluded me despite acquiring a beautiful spinning wheel a couple of years ago. I really must get around to getting it up and running so I can get some practice in with it. I had a few goes when I first bought it and managed to spin a bit of lumpy, bumpy, bit too twisty yarn and then the string came unwound and the spindle kept flying off and I eventually gave up through sheer frustration. I really do want to give spinning another go though as it would be so useful to add that to my repertoire of textile skills while also providing me with the perfect excuse for owning a herd of real life alpacas. What would the cats think to that I wonder?!
As we’re on the subject of spinning it seems as good a time as any to mention our trip up north to visit relatives on Saturday as we made a visit to the Leigh Spinners Mill in Lancashire to see the UK’s largest unrestored steam engine. Now, happily being brought back to its former working glory by a team of enthusiastic volunteers.
It really is a beautiful building and while some of it is still in use making carpets and synthetic turf a lot of the main structure is lying empty. The plan is to eventually do it all up and balance community led projects with commercial and business lets. I’d love to have a workshop in a building like that. There’d be plenty of room to store my gargantuan yarn stash! Ah well, I’ll be having to make do with squeezing everything into my home studio for the foreseeable future, but one can dream. At least I have to limit my yarn buying due to space constraints, which is probably a good thing or who knows where my yarn habit would end?!
Here’s the main engine room as it looked on Saturday. Everyone was busy, mainly scrubbing at rust and rubbing grease on things as far as I could tell, but I’m sure it’s actually much more complicated than that. I’m no expert on these things so I won’t go waffling on about the mechanics and uses. You can visit the Leigh Spinners Mill website for more details on the history and future plans for this impressive 1920’s cotton mill. They’re sure to have their facts right over there!
Having a nose around the internet to see what I could find out about the place I found some beautiful shots of the engine house taken before the restoration began. The one that really struck me is this image below, taken by Mark and featuring on his wonderfully atmospheric website called Off Limits Photos which showcases his talent for sniffing out the abandoned, derelict and dilapidated buildings and structures of the past. This photo really highlights the amount of restoration work that has gone on already.
That’s an awful lot of pigeon poop to clean up before you can even get started on the fun bit!
On a much less grand scale I’ve got my own spinning related restoration to undertake if I’m going to get anywhere at all with this tricky craft. The string has become hopelessly tangled and the spindles need cleaning off, but I’m thankful I don’t have to scrape a ton of pigeon-poop off it before I start, or worry about getting pistons working or things exploding. A bit of TLC, some pedal power and a bit of expert guidance would probably do the trick here.
It is a fine looking piece of kit and deserves much more respect than it’s currently receiving. I found out that there is an alpaca farm not too far from me. They advertise spinning classes on their website Simply Alpaca. I’m so tempted to have a go. Maybe spinning lessons are what I want for Christmas this year. I probably need to start dropping hints to my family… maybe they’re even reading this 😉 It could make a perfect new challenge for a new year.
Here are some of the yarns they make at Simply Alpaca. All from their own fleeces.
Such gorgeous natural colours and not at all slubby and gnarly like my own attempts. This is the only fragment that remains of my foray into the world of spinning, but it will give you an idea of how much practice I’m going to need!
If I do book a spinning class I might take some of my own herd along to meet the inhabitants. The farm also offers camelid handling courses that could help me keep this lot in check!
Actually, they’re pretty well behaved on the whole. They’re just messy eaters, especially when they’re all fighting over the last of the seasons strawberries.
Looks like no one’s owning up to who spilled the feeding trough. Well, you know what they say – what happens in the herd, stays in the herd. I can’t tell who the guilty culprit is, they all look like butter wouldn’t melt in their mouths!
September 28, 2015 at 7:53 pm
Oh do get your spinning wheel going, it must be so amazing to own one!! Your alpacas are just , I love their little coats too 🙂 x
September 29, 2015 at 8:43 am
I know, I really should get on with the spinning, I’m sure it’s fun once you get the hang of it!
September 30, 2015 at 8:18 am
Another lovely post, I just love the little stories you come up with for your animal makes. They are all just gorgeous.
On the subject of spinning, I did a little in my A-level art class (many years ago now) and it’s great fun, but you do need to concentrate! I made a few little yarns but I have no idea what happened to them, which is a shame as I would love to make something with them now. Never mind!
If you’re ever back up North again, you could try a visit to Helmshore Textile Mill. It’s another rescued old mill with all the spinning and weaving machinery restored and working. It’s a great day out and one I haven’t done for ages, so it must be time to go again.
Hope you manage to get some spinning lessons sorted.
September 30, 2015 at 6:14 pm
Thanks for the tip. We visit the north a few times a year to see relatives and are always looking for something interesting to do that would suit all ages. That sounds like it would tick the boxes and keep everyone happy (especially me!) I’ll give it a go. I think it’s the concentration element of spinning that so far has ne flummoxed. I keep getting distracted in my studio and end up making amigurumi instead. that’s why I think a dedicated spinning class would be great for me. And on an alpaca farm, well that’s just perfect! I’ll be sure to write a post about how I get on when it does actually happen 🙂