Monthly Archives: April 2015

Here be Alpacas!

We recently popped over to visit the boys and girls (human, feline and camelid!) of County Alpacas.  Julie asked me a while ago to give a box of her alpaca yarn the Sylvan Tiger dye treatment and it was time to deliver the goods!

The boys seemed please to see us, though that might have been the bag of carrots we were carrying!

Alpaca helloFeeding the alpacas is not without it’s dangers to future knitting efficiency.  Alpacas only have teeth on their bottom jaws so in order to get a chunk of carrot they grip and then tug to snap off a section. Once they get a bit nearer your fingers with their distinctive dentistry it’s a bit hair raising.  A final digit count didn’t reveal any losses!

Alpaca with teethWhen we saw them a couple of weeks ago the alpacas had their full coats on and are due for a date with the alpaca barber in about a month now. Often when an alpaca has been shorn you’ll see a skinny looking beast with a big fluffy head.  They are left with this unique hair cut to act as a sun shade with their gorgeous big eyes. You learn something new everyday!

Here are the five lovely colours I dyed, all dyed with natural dyes; cochineal, fustic, pomegranate, saxon blue and lac.

Alpaca testsJulie will have the yarn for sale at Wonderwool this weekend, so do pop by and say hello.

Finally, one more photo, this time of the girls, looking superior as the boys were rough housing down the hill!

Alpaca girl trioPS, whilst I won’t be at Wonderwool this weekend, there are two upcoming outings for Sylvan Tiger Yarn:
Wharfe Wool Fair – 9 May at Otley Courthouse just outside Leeds
Leeds Wool Festival – 6 June at Armley Mills, Leeds Industrial Museum

New British Sheep Breed Fibre

Recently Angela, who runs Adelaide Walker, asked me to dye up some different fibres for customers who perhaps wanted to try something different to the usual Merino or Bluefaced Leicester. And here we have the results.

Adelaide Walker BlueberryFirst up we have Berry on some beautiful Suffolk fibre. One of the Down breeds (fairly short staple length, coloured faces) Suffolks originated from crossing Southdown rams with Norfolk Horn ewes. The fibre takes to dye well giving some nice saturated colours and would be great to spin into yarn to make socks, hats, gloves and jumpers.
The Berry colourway was created from a base of pale Logwood Purple with deeper shades of Logwood Purple, Cochineal and Saxon Blue poured over and allowed to mingle in the dye pans. Each batch comes out a little differently as the dyes move and mix in the pans.

Adelaide Walker AquaAnd next up, Ocean on Whitefaced Woodland fibre.  A hill breed from the South Pennines of Yorkshire and Derbyshire, the Whitefaced Woodland was nearly extinct at one point in the mid-twentieth century.  It has seen something of a revival but is still listed as vulnerable by the Rare Breed Survival Trust.  Not known as one of the softest fibres this particular preparation was softer than I expected and would make great outer garments and will felt nicely.  As you might expect with a hill breed, subject to the great British elements, the fibre had very good water resistant characteristics, it really had to be encouraged to submerge in the pots!. This colourway was dyed with the same method as Berry, this time using different strengths of Saxon Blue with some Logwood Grey highlights.

Both colourways are available on the Adelaide Walker website, Berry here and Ocean here.