Alpaca Throw Blanket

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I have a serious flaw.  I come up with crazy thoughts and ideas that cause me to spend days, weeks and even months doing something that results in an object I could have gone to the store and bought.  This time? I am making an alpaca throw blanket from scratch.  Way more fun than buying a made-in-China-piece-of-crap-knockoff.

Last Fall my lovely daughter and her husband visited an Alpaca farm just outside Niagara Falls and brought me back 2 alpaca fleeces.  As I was in the throes of Christmas prep, house renovations and purging/packing to move, the two fleeces were washed and placed into totes for storage.

I finally was able to get to carding the fleece (getting it ready to spin) this past summer.  I have most of Palladin (name of the critter it came from) done, he offered up some lovely creamy-white fleece that spins like a dream and feels as soft and fluffy as a cloud. Fert, not to be confused with Fart (he gets a complex if people call him that) is a rusty-brown colour. He is still in a tote to be carded, but I had to start somewhere and Palladin was the first tote I pulled off the storage shelf.

I am guessing at the weight of the fleece I have from both animals as I never weighed them (probably about 4 lbs each), but it will most likely come in around 2.5 lbs each after wastage from carding/spinning.

Thanksgiving weekend, I spun up 2 sample bobbins of lace weight and plied them together. Roughly a fingering weight of which I dyed with leftover mint dye liquor with an afterbath of iron. Resulting in a soft gray. This will not be the final colour(s) of the blanket, just something to test with and looks better than a plain ‘ol white skein.

I will be using both my new (old) wheel (Beth, an antique Nova Scotian wheel) to spin the yarn, but because her bobbins are not that big I am plying the yarn on my Spin Well (the sturdy Manitoban wheel) as she has enormous bobbins (my, that does sound risqué doesn’t it?)

I then took the sample (152 yards) and using my 15” Cricket loom, I wove a sample at 12 epi (ends per inch, the vertical threads) and 8 epi respectively and I played with the ppi (picks per inch, the horizontal threads) on both and ended up liking the 8 epi with a 10 ppi so that is what I will aim for as I love the feel of the fabric at that density. The sample was woven plain weave, but I will be using a twill pattern on the floor loom when all the fleece is carded and spun.

Pictured below (from left to right) is raw fleece (washed), then the carded “rolag”, bobbin full of spun yarn, plied and dyed yarn, then the woven sample.DSC03691

With the exception of yarn spun from Fert, Palladin’s yarn will be dyed using natural materials in earth tones (tans/browns/reddish-browns) to match our living room décor where the finished blanket will reside…whenever that happens, hopefully by the end of the winter….but that is being optimistic!

Note to self….keep a vacuum on hand while carding/spinning alpaca…holy fuzz batman!

Deborah

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Oatmeal Strawberry Muffins

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Yes, I know it is now Fall, but I have several bags of strawberries in the freezer that I picked back in early July and I need to make room for Fall bounty…so…here comes a strawberry muffin recipe at y’all.  Healthy, low-fat with the added bonus of oatmeal for the heart but they also make for a quick breakfast bite on those frantic weekday mornings.

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Oatmeal Strawberry Muffins

Ingredients

1/3 cup applesauce
2/3 cup sour cream (full fat, low-fat or fat free, your choice, I used full fat as that is what I had on hand)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour (** see note below)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup whole, rolled oats
1 egg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/4 cups chopped, thawed, frozen strawberries, drained

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F and grease a 12 cup muffin tin or use paper liners.

In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients.

In a small bowl, combine wet ingredients (except berries) and whisk to incorporate.

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and then add berries.  Gently fold wet ingredients in until just barely moistened, there should be some dry bits here and there.  (Stir/combine too much and your muffins will be tough.)

Spoon into prepared muffin tin (fill to the top) and bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Super quick and easy and best of all…yummy!

Makes 10 to 12 muffins, depending on the size of your tin.

These make me think of summer, only 9 more months till it comes around again though.

**  if using fresh berries, reduce all-purpose flour by 1/4 cup

Deborah

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