Blacker Than A Moonless Night


Just look at this Yarn Candy !

This is indeed the blackest of black animal fiber I’ve ever seen.  I bought it “raw” (weedy & dusty) from Debbie at Brookfarm last year, just over the mountain in Glen Ellen. She didn’t seem very excited to sell me raw unpicked fleece, but it was a special circumstance, and anyway, I nearly begged her. So here I am a year later, in dire need of black wool, or black anything, for Alejandro’s ski hat. Then I remembered this jet black alpaca I had stashed which I only spun up a sample last spring, washed, and noted it’s depth of total true black.

Sunday and today I filled a large bobbin , spinning from handfulls out of the bag (the technical term is called ‘spinning from locks’), then I washed & rinsed it 3 times, thwacked it, and hung it dry. It is absolutely glistening pitch black, and bloomed into soft gorgeousness. I can’t wait to knit it up.

You see, it’s winter in Patagonia, and Alejandro is training for ski, and I’ve promised him a basic ski hat, just in case the other ski hat  I made for Ale doesn’t really work well on the slope.  Let it be said by me that no other kind of hat  belongs on an Argentinian who skis in the Andes more than one made of alpaca, and still more, one hand-spun and knit by a friend who bought the alpaca from another friend.  This will be a hat of great character and integrity. I know Alejandro will like it a lot.

Home-Made Candy


Making candy again. One small batch at a time. I call it ‘micro dying’. I use a little one-quart old blue enamel pot, and I start with some homespun alpaca and cook the sugar just right, mixing hues with abandon.

Navy, royal blue, and a t’wee bit of peacock over-dye natural medium grey alpaca until it becomes unmistakably vivid and bold.

Yummy blue alpaca candy !


Spruce and emerald over-dye grey into a mouth-watering green alpaca candy !

 A  real taste sensation when mixed together !

I suprised myself with the color intensity, unusual for me, and I’ll admit, its only the second time I’ve dyed alpaca, and I really love how the fiber responds.

Am I Kidding Myself?

This is just what I asked myself when I was finished spinning up this Suri Alpaca ,  as I ended up with only about three-quarters of a bobbin full when all plied.  What a gross miscalculation.  You see, I only used half of what I had stashed of roving, ready to be spun up in this post here , thinking that would be well enough for a nice fat skein. I was kidding myself !  All that dying , all that spinning,  all that fuss… for a wee 180 yd skein of very purple, and very fine weight of alpaca.

 So, here it is.  Cute . Spirited.  Very purple indeed.


I panicked. I thought, how can I give a very special knitter a very special gift of such a small single skein of 180 yards?  I thought , well, maybe quick get something to accompany it, um, like one of those “One Skein Wonder” books. Yeah! Well, so I just ordered one last night, and with expedited shipping, thinking I’d have the whole thing to bundle up and send off by the end of the week. Great ! My “What was I thinking?” situation solved nicely.

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So now that I’m waiting for the book to arrive, my thoughts drift.  They become “ I really could spin up some of that odd left-over tussah silk roving I have stashed. ”  Except that Nora’s Mom asked for purple, and there’s no denying , this silk roving was dyed roses and maroon. I dyed it myself a few years ago. (It’s the very same silk which I spun, in fact, and is featured in the banner of this blog.)   Well, I happen to have a box load of dyes, and I ended up overdyeing an already dyed bunch of roving. Adding separately and blended, navy and crimson, I managed to get a nice deep purply wine… really needed a lot of rinsing though. Though not quite purple, more cabernet, I think it will accompany the alpaca well, and what could be better than a nice book and a skein of yarn?  Two skeins of yarn !  I dyed, dried, and then  set into spinning like wildfire.

Ready for a good washing and rinsing, here she is, just wound off of the bobbin.

And as I talked about in Yarn Candy , searching for just the right lighting to show the color.

Sometimes it’s the whole of the sum of several photos

which grasps the trueness of tones

 and hues.

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~  Edited In  ~

All ready to go ;  234 yards of tussah silk , 180 yards of suri alpaca, and one book .

Off to New York !

Yarn Candy

I’ve been enjoying a little rest after a flurry of deadline projects came to a crescendo last week. Back at it again, reading my favorite blogs from spinners, knitters & designers (while spinning), and started to be overcome with that oh-so-familiar impulse to post something ! A little like journalling, but involving tactile sensations as well as color and light ~ an addictive combination. When this happens I grab the camera.

I love the afternoon light from a particular skylight , which brings a trueness and a warmth and a glow to colors, which frankly seem lost with the camera, and so so difficult to really grasp ~ but with a little help from photo settings, I think I managed pretty well on this one.  Just look at the purple I am spinning up, and this suri alpaca is just so soft !  I started yakking about a few days ago,  it in this post .

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What lovely fine purple yummy yarn-candy indeed !

Spinning Up Alpaca

I’ve got two decades of stashed alpaca bursting out of this basket and that.

Alpaca fleece from three different friends in the alpaca farming business, and spanning two different spinning groups I’ve been lucky to be a part of. That’s quite the stash.  With Peruvian Churo and/or Himalayan Sherpa hats on my mind to make, and general Andean artifacts from this book I found last year at this time …

I thought best to spin up all of the alpaca.

There is light brown, ecru, and black raw, as well as a quite a handsome batch of roving in rose grey and dark grey and white. I have definitely got enough to make some nice natural contrasts for stranding, without having to overdye anything. This is going to be how I will be spending my spare time his week !

Alejandro’s Manos


I pulled out my bags of raw alpaca, and began spinning a few days prior.

The perfect choice of animal fiber for Alejandro’s gloves, he who frequently ski’s the snow of the Andes Mountains, in Patagonia.

Plying natural black with natural grey .

I used the basic charts from   Ann Budd ~ Handy Book of Patterns  as a guideline (especially since I was knitting with handspun and needed a custom gauge). However, I prefered a ‘left’ and a ‘right’ glove, so I had to somewhat re-invented the off-set thumb for myself ~a definite improvement .  I would enjoy publishing my own version of a glove pattern ~ soon ~ because I love making gloves now !