The art of alpacas

ron doley wheel alpaca fleeceWhen you meet Jan 2 you learn quickly she is very easy to talk to and very enthusiastic about alpaca fleece. She loves her alpacas and is a very keen alpaca farmer who has done due diligence and made a point of knowing as much about them and their fleece as she can. She never stops learning and her passion for them is infectious. She loves each and every one of her crias (baby alpacas) and always ensures they are put into caring homes. She is full of joy when a new one is born. Her genuine love of her farm and animals is why she makes friends easily. She talks warmly about what she does and you cannot help but get caught up in it. Sonya, our roving reporter, brings you her story this week.

Jan Mark 2

Mum taught me to knit when I was five! And my father used to crochet finely worked doilies! Mum always liked knitting and later on did quilting. I didn’t start spinning until we bought alpacas. At that time, my husband brought me home a spinning wheel from a second hand shop. It had one bobbin, no lazy kate or anything else. I bought an Ashford book and from that, I taught myself how to spin. I was advised to start on sheep’s wool but after a week I went on to alpaca fleeces. Once I mastered that I made hats and scarves. We’ve won over a hundred prizes for our champion alpacas. Rearing them then training and grooming them for showing, is an art in itself!

I sell my work at the Meadows market. I was invited to the Victor Harbour Spinners to talk about suri alpaca. They were such a nice group that I ended up joining! Then sometime later I was invited to to talk about alpacas to the men’s group at Aldinga. I took two alpacas along with me. When the rain eventually stopped I took them out and showed them to the men. Because alpaca fleece and yarn are used in craft work, the men did an unprecedented thing. They had invited their womenfolk! I learned about the women’s spinning group and sure enough, I joined up with them. So now I alternate with the Victor Harbour Spinners and Seaford Spinners on a Monday and I still go to the Aldinga group which meets every fortnight on a Tuesday.

We are overjoyed to have Jan the second join our group. She has much to teach us and we are eager learners. Thank you in anticipation Jan.

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Beanies to berets expo

berets to beanie stall

This is a good picture of the other end of our stall at the Beanies to Berets Expo at Port Noarlunga Arts Centre last week. You can see Hilary’s lovely felted jacket and John’s weaving which created so much interest and he did make sales and help a lot of people with their weaving skills. You can also see our banner which was woven by club members a few years ago. Sea and sand. We spin by the sea and love it.

All about Karin

It’s easy to learn from Karin. She has a unique sense of humour which makes you laugh and then anything you are trying to learn becomes easy because you can see the funny side of what is not going right. She has helped many of us achieve her 10 stitch blanket featured in the images above . She has done that with a lot of patience and tolerance peppered with the funny things she says. We become fearless and just do it. Sonya, our roving reporter, is bringing you Karin’s story this week and it’s great to see how much her travels and linguistic skills have played such a big part in her love of yarn:

All About  Karin  (well, nearly all…)

I have to admit, it was hard to prize information from our Karin. Lithe of body, young in looks, and clothed with a mantle of modesty, she had me digging to find out anything about her!

I learnt to knit at school and my Oma, who was actually Italian, in spite of her title, taught me about knitting. I was about eight or nine, as far as I can remember. In fact everyone in my family who showed any signs of getting bored was taught to knit, including my uncle! However, for a long time my knitting got me nowhere because school and studies took over.

When I went to Southern Africa, I worked as a research assistant, dealing with the Namibian Herero tribe, a tall very proud tribe. Although they don’t wear their magnificent clothes for every day life, whenever there is a meeting or occasion of any formality, on go the traditional costumes. And those hats! The women walk so straight and tall, probably as a result of carrying  considerable loads on their heads. They had a phonetic language but not a written one. We worked in consultation with these people to create a written language. They wanted first of all to have the Bible written and translated in their own language.  The African women were knitters! Their mothers and ancestors were no doubt taught to knit by the former German colonists. So these women inspired me to take up knitting again.

Then I went to live in England and New Zealand. But it was only when I came to Australia eight years ago that I started knitting again. I wanted a new challenge. So I took up spinning and revived my interest in knitting. I’ve taught our group here, how to knit shortened rows within a ten stitch pattern achieving a clever triangular corner. I never thought I would be teaching others how to do such things!

With Karin’s skills, creeping out from under her modesty mantle, one can only suspect that this interesting soul has a deal more to teach us. Watch this space…

PS With a great show of courage and skill, Karin has mastered the somewhat terrifying opening and locking of the club room door, with a series of button pressing, coding and sequencing. Not for the faint hearted!

You can find out about the Herero people on Wikipedia.

Herero Women

Dyeing workshop

Christies Beach 4th February 2019It was a beautiful 22 degrees and a perfect day for dyeing out on the veranda ! We opened the glass wall doors and let the light breeze and sunshine in. We should all like to thank Hilary for being so good at organising another dyeing workshop this year because those of us who participated had a lovely time and achieved what we wanted. Jan1, Hilary and Alexis all helped us with how to get the best colours and results. Rubine was a popular colour but we were just having fun trying to work out how to get the colours we wanted. Some were dyeing carded fleece, others just washed fleece and Cathy tried some rose fibre. We were using Earth Palette cold dyes and so the dyed fibre was going to go home to sit in the sun in a black bag for the day. Dyeing a skein of wool had to be thought out carefully so that it would knit up in an effective pattern. This is where the experienced people could be very helpful to the beginners. We’ll be bringing our dyed fibre back next week for show and tell and so we’ll be able to see how it all turned out. It’s a process which really makes you think and then you have to just do it!