Tuesday, March 31, 2009

MOPACA Invitational Alpaca Show 2009

The MOPACA show was March 28 – 29. Before I get to the details, I’d like to say thank you to my coworker, Robyn, who very kindly let me borrow her Explorer Sport. Normally, I borrow it to haul alpacas, but this time I used it to transport the sponsor gifts to the show (It was like Christmas!) and spin off samples back to another farm on the way home.

Big River Alpacas ensured that Marie (and Ulysses) made it safely to the show.

I’d also like to thank my friend, Ellen, without whom the weekend would have been very stressful. Ellen came along to learn about alpacas, help out a little and just get away for the weekend. She ended up learning how to color check, show animals, gate steward, and process the spin-off samples. She contributed a lot to the show and they can’t wait for her to come back and volunteer in 2010. In fact, Ellen got to show more animals than I did and her first time in the ring she took first place!

I’d also like to thank my family for taking time to stop by - especially with the icy, snowy weather. Sharp Bros. Seed, my dad’s business, sponsored our Meet & Greet and hopefully picked up a few new customers. My cousins brought my Grandma V down to the American Royal Sunday afternoon to see the animals. Janae, my second cousin, enjoyed leading the alpacas around so much she asked me if it was okay for her to ‘borrow’ one.

Marie, being the photogenic alpaca that she is, made Friday's Kansas City Star before the show even started. She's the one in the middle and this is the 2nd time she's made the paper in less than a year.

Marie took 1st place in her halter class (hooray!). However, it was a class of one. This does not necessarily mean that you’ll get first place, though. If the alpaca doesn’t meet the correct conformational and fleece standards, they’ll award a 2nd place ribbon instead. In one case, there was a class of one and the alpaca was so unruly that she and her owner were dismissed from the ring with no ribbon whatsoever. The judge was very pleased with Marie’s conformation and especially the density of her fleece. She said it was a shame that I didn’t have any competition in the class.

Marie and Ulysses were both entered in the spin-off competition. This is where 2 ounces of fiber is sent in ahead of time. It is then handspun into yarn and judged. This is a great way to get feed back on the fleece and to see how well it converts into yarn. Both of them received 4th place ribbons and I’m very happy with my little handspun yarn samples.

I picked up these little alpaca pins for my store and these wonderful pastel alpaca socks from Alpacas Midwest for myself. The socks come in assortment of Easter Egg shades just in time for spring.

We returned home late Sunday and I was quite happy to see the kitties, Magic (thank you Amber & Kate) and sleep in my own bed.

Monday, March 23, 2009

March Bit and Pieces

Several of my readers have asked how my hat knitting is going. I finished it about a week ago. I found making the brim a little difficult but overall I think it turned out well. My dog, Magic, was happy to model it for a treat ~_*

I've started a new scarf. This yarn is 60% alpaca, 40% wool. The goal is to make a skinny, lacy looking scarf and so far, so good. I find the color pattern interesting.

And in other knitting news, I've joined Ravelry.
In alpaca news, my friend, Ellen, and I will be heading to Kansas City, MO for the MOPACA Invitational Alpaca Show on Friday. Mariposa's Rose Marie will be competing as well as Mariposa's Birch Ulysses (who now belongs to Big River Alpacas and Blue Feather Farm). They will be competing individually and together in a class called Produce of Dam which will give recognition to their dam (mom), Calliope's Isis.

If you can't make the show in KC, I'll have a post about it sometime next week.

Here's Ellen giving Griffin a halter training lesson. He's too young for the show but he's getting better at walking on the lead. Notice the bachelor herd watching in the background.

Shearing Day will be Tuesday, April 14th at the farm. If you're in the area, have the day off and would like to observe or help out, let me know. Extra hands are always welcome.
My shipment of socks finally arrived and they are now available for sale. I've also added this purple scarf and some other items to the store.

I think that's all the tidbits I have for now. In the future there'll be posts about the show next weekend, shearing day, and perhaps a surprise.

I'll end with this photo that has nothing to do with alpacas. But it is a mariposa or butterfly. It was taken at the Butterfly house where it's March Morpho Mania.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Kreative Blogger Award

I was pleasantly surprised to get this award from fellow St. Louisan, Lenox Knits. I especially admire her pledge to live handmade. She also has all sorts of wonderful knitted things in her Etsy shop. I encourage you to take a look.

The rules for this award are straightforward. List 7 things I'm thankful for then pass the award on to 7 other bloggers.

7 Things for Which I'm Thankful

1. Indoor Plumbing
2. Electricity
3. My wonderful friends
4. Gainful employment
5. Books, books & more books
6. Flowers
7. My pets

My picks for the Kreative Blogger award are diverse group. Each one brightens my day and inspires me.

In no particular order.

Am...musings - my college roommate and long time friend, who's incredibly creative
Phat Fiber - promotes independent fiber artists. Who knew yarn could be so addictive?
Fluffington Farms - Fiber Friend, Spinner, Raiser of Cute Bunnies
On Becoming a Domestic and Laboratory Goddess - Isis the Scientist balances Life and The Lab in smokin' hot shoes.
Zen Habits - The Power of Less
Alpaca Love - The goings on at the Wisseler farm. Christa's writing makes you feel like you're there.
Alpaca Farm Girl - I think that Wordless Wednesdays are my favorite.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Phat Fiber Sample Box: Desert Garden and *Giveaway*

Phat Fiber has become one of my favorite blogs. They showcase independent fiber and yarn artisans. I don't know how to spin but when I look at this blog I want to learn.

Phat Fiber also does giveaways. There's one every day this week. Today's giveaway is from Desert Garden.
Here's the link: Phat Fiber Sample Box: Desert Garden and *Giveaway*

I'm intrigued by the Sea Witch Coilspun Wool Yarn. I love the colors and find the texture especially appealing.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Guest Author

As many of you know I've been working hard on various ways of marketing the alpacas and myself. In doing so, I was asked to be a guest author on Alpaca Farm Girl's blog. Most of my writing is quite technical so this gave me a chance to be a little more creative. Give it a read and let Katy know what you think.


Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Hey Look, I Can Knit!

About 7 years ago I took a knitting class which eventually led to me owning alpacas. I haven't done any knitting since. I found it difficult and then I had surgery on my dominant hand. Holding the knitting needles became painful.

About a month back I saw a post on peg weaving. Then I saw someone at a MOPACA meeting weaving with this circular thing. I thought, 'hey, I could do that.'

So I found myself a loom at Michael's and gave it a try. It was simple enough that I could teach myself how to weave/knit plus it didn't hurt my hands. In two weeks I'd made this scarf while watching The Daily Show and LOST. The yarn is 75% acrylic, 25% wool (I'm saving my hand dyed yarns and alpaca yarns until I'm better). I used almost a 200 yard skein of each color.

I did have some 'help' with the scarf. My cat Cleo insists on sitting on my lap and she was not thrilled about having to share with the loom. My other cat, Spock is not quite three and he found the yarn quite tempting.

Here's how it looks while still on the loom.

Since Spock was so intrigued by the knitting process, I let him model the finished scarf.

Some day this will be a matching hat.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Lose the Winter Blues Contest

Fellow St. Louisan and blog follower, Lenox Knits, is having a giveaway.

Prizes include:

1. A lace knitted scarf in a blue hemp/cotton blend yarn with clay beads, worth $18.

2. A knitted pouch in the blue hemp/cotton yarn with the same beads. It has a draw string closing with a long paper bead, worth $12.

3. A matching headband in lace, worth, $7.

4. A knitted wire wrist cuff with matching clay beads and some fun paper mache beads in matching colors, worth $11.

Entering is easy. Just click here.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Say Cheese!

Today I had my first experience using the Tooth-a-Matic. Marie will be competing at the MOPACA show the end of this month and her teeth needed to be trimmed. Trimming alpaca teeth is regular part of alpaca husbandry and until now I had only observed or held the alpaca's mouth open. But, since Marie is my alpaca, today I had the honors.
Here is Marie in the chute and ready to go. She was less than pleased at this point and I was prepared to be covered in spit.

I'm using the Tooth-a-Matic in this photo - my photographer wasn't willing to get too close and I'm left handed so it's hard to see. It was much easier to use than expected. Also there were other alpaca owners visiting the farm so I had quite the audience for my first attempt at alpaca dentistry.

Now I'm just smoothing her teeth out a bit with the Dremel.

Here we both are afterwards, none the worse for wear. Marie was actually quite calm during the whole thing and there was no spitting. Yay!

By the way, I'm told that I'll be doing teeth on Shearing Day, April 14th...um yay?

We also did a couple of more halter training lessons with the crias: Griffin & Morrighan

Here I am working with Morrighan.

Griffin went outside the pasture on the halter for the first time today. At first he wasn't very sure about it but then he saw Samantha and became quite curious. Even at a young age he LOVES the ladies.