Monday, September 21, 2015

Open House Announcement and Spinzilla 2015 Savings

Open House and SPINZILLA 2015 savings

Fuzzy Butts grazing
Come join us for National Alpaca Farm Days here at Alma Park Alpacas LLC
  • Who - You're invited!
  • When - 
    • Saturday September 26 10am - 4 pm
    • Sunday September 27 10 am - 2 pm 
  • Where - Alma Park Alpacas - Directions
  • Cost - FREE
  • What: 
    • Meet an alpaca or several :) 
    • Feel the fleece
    • See spinning demos
    • Hang out and knit or spin with us
    • Enjoy the beautiful fall weather!
    • See the progress on the new store / studio
    • Shop for yarn, fiber, roving, gifts, clothes 
  • Why: Why not? 

Can't join us? 

Well take advantage of FREE SHIPPING (US only) through Sept 30 on all orders $25 and over (including clearance items).  No coupon code needed.  Just go to and browse. New items listed daily! 

ALSO - since Spinzilla 2015 is right around the corner (starts Oct 5th) we have a CLEARANCE section of fiber to get you ready or to feed your stash.  

Here's some items in stock RIGHT NOW! 

Pixie-Stix™ Hand Dyed Sock Weight
Dryer Balls

Tons of batts, roving, top and other fiber

Hand Spun Hand Knit Fingerless Gloves
With Antique Buttons

More Yarn
Alpaca Scarves

Friday, July 10, 2015

Series (Installment 3 - Icelandic Wool): Spinning my way through the Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook

This is the third post in the Series.  Follow the links below to view the 1st and 2nd posts in this series.

Installment 1 - Huacaya Alpaca
Installment 2 - Corriedale Wool

Icelandic Wool 

"This breed originated in Iceland and is hardy and adapted to harsh, changeable climate and marginal pasture and browse conditions. Ewes are prolific, good milkers and possess exceptional longevity. The Icelandic has historically been a meat breed, but is also a noted source of wool for lopi yarn. Fleece colors can be white, tan, brown, gray or black. The breed is both polled and horned with both sexes capable of horn growth." 1
  • Fiber Characteristics - Icelandic fleece are dual-coated.  There is a long outer coat called the tog and a downy soft undercoat called the thel.  The can be separated or spun together.  Icelandic fleece is a very versatile fiber and  the tog/thel combo can be spun into a single ply lopi type yarn (although a true lopi is actually slightly twisted roving) , 2-ply tog/thel combo or can be separated.  The tog is long and strong and can be spun for warp or a variety of uses.  The soft thel undercoat can be spun by itself or blended with fine fibers such as alpaca to make a next to skin soft yarn.  Micron of the tog (27-30) with an average staple of 4-18 inches, micron of the thel (19-22)  with an average staple of 2 - 4 inches. 1
  • Grades  - There are not typical grades like that of alpaca, but from my experience, lamb and hoggett fleece are softer than adult as one might expect.  Also on a lamb/hoggett fleece, the tog and the thel are closer in micron and the resulting yarn is softer.  As a sheep ages, it seems that the tog gets coarser, much like alpaca fiber. 
  • Blending  - The thel is wonderful blended with other soft fibers like alpaca for next to skin wear! Blending the tog and the thel together and spinning it is very common and makes a wonderful strong yarn for outerwear, but on young fleeces, the tog and thel can be blended together and still be next to skin soft.    
  • Prep Work   - most often, I like to card this fiber into batts or rolags to spin, but Icelandic can be spun from the lock as well.  It is best if you feed the fiber cut side into the carder. If I am going to separate the tog and thel, I like to do so before washing, but it can also be accomplished after.  I separate by hand, but you can also use a single pitch comb if you prefer.  Do not use double pitch combs as all of that beautiful thel fiber will end up as waste.   Careful washing is VERY important for this wool more so than other wools as Icelandic fiber is some of the best fiber on earth to felt with.  I have even found that the fiber in my draft hand will felt from the moisture in my hand, so I take only a small amount to hold at any one time.  Any agitation in the wash and you will find yourself having a solid mass rather than fiber to spin.  It usually requires only one wash in hot water to remove the lanolin and 2 hot rinses as they are not a really lanolin heavy.  My experience is a loss of 15% or less to lanolin.  (I will be doing a video of tog/thel separation in the near future and will update this with a link
  • Spinning Ease -  When well prepared, Icelandic spins like a dream.  I have seen many folks afraid of this fiber on discussion groups, but for me it is one of the most fun fibers to spin.  It is so versatile!  I would not recommend it for a true beginner, but after some experience conquering other wools and wool prep, I say jump in and enjoy.  True traditional Icelandic Lopi (from native Iceland) is defined as a "slightly twisted" and is very light and airy and is more "roving" like.  True Lopi should not be confused with a "single", but many people use the two interchangeably.  I have never spun true Lopi, but I do have a single pictured below. 

    "The machine-carded roving is produced in disc-shaped rolls. This is the original unspun lopi first used for knitting c.1920's. More recently, lightly spun lopi yarn in different thicknesses has become available." 2
  • Dye Uptake :  you can see from the pic below that Icelandic takes dye wonderfully.  Healthy fiber (from healthy animals), like the ones I have had the pleasure of working with has a natural sheen and beauty and produces wonderful jewel-toned colors.  
  • Setting : Wet setting is accomplished like any other wool yarn.  Submerse in hot water, no agitation and hang to dry.  With "Lopi" style yarn, I do a tiny bit of fulling by a submersion in hot water followed by a submersion in cold water, no agitation and then some good  thwacks (4 - 5)  and hang to dry.  I also let my "Lopi" yarn sit on the bobbins for at least 48 hours to "relax" before skeining. It makes a world of difference! 
  • Knitting : Icelandic is wonderful to knit with and can be used for next to skin garments for all but the most sensitive of people.  It is durable and can be used for almost any project.   The lamb/hoggett fleeces are very soft if not overspun, and can be enjoyed next to skin by almost anyone, even if not separated.   

    Some of my work with Icelandic wool.  I spin a lot of Icelandic, so I chose this selection to show the versatility of Icelandic.

    Batts blending both tog and thel.  Dyed a raspberry colorway.
    A lovely soft natural copper color to the right.  Fiber from my friend Tracy. 
    Tog and thel blended together into a 2 ply yarn.  Fiber from my friend Connie
    Tog and thel blended together into a 2 ply yarn with guineau
    feathers incorporated.  Fiber from my friend Connie
    Thel only.  So shiny and soft - 2 ply.  Fiber from my friend Connie.

    Tog only.  Strong and tightly spun 3 ply because of it's intended
    use.  Fiber from my friend Connie.

    Tog and thel blended together into a 2 ply yarn.  Fiber from my friend Connie.

    Tog and thel blended together and then plied with a cut up
    silk scarf.  
    Fiber from my friend Connie. 

    "Lopi"style yarn still on the bobbins - fiber
     from my friend Deb - Sheep "Agnus Dei" 
    Finished well "relaxed" Lopi Style yarn.
    Fiber from my friend Deb - sheep "Astrid" 

    1 -
    2 - 

    Thursday, July 9, 2015

    Tour de Fleece Days 4 - 6 - July 7th - 9th

    Not much spinning was done on day 4 :(  I did manage to get my Jacob blend in for a photo shoot however and now it is hanging to dry before skeining and breaking them into smaller skeins.  This will be for sale in the shop this weekend.

    Day 4 - July 7th 
    First skein of #TdF2015 all complete and photo'ed. #handspunyarn #HotOffTheWheel #TourdeFleece2015 #TdFsapgap2015 #igspinners #spinningfiber #spinnersofinstagram #almapark #AlmaParkAlpacas #igknitters #knittersofinstagram

    Day 5 - July 8th - 11:04 AM
    Finished the first of four skeins of the "Lopi" style yarn from Icelandic wool, from a sheep named "Agnus Dei".


    July 8th - 7:55 pm
    Finished 2 more of these skeins - no pic :)

    July 9th 6:23 am 
    Finished the last skein.  I will let them sit for at least 48 hours to relax.  I like to do that with singles.  Here are all 4 together just hanging out.


    Started an Icelandic/silk (80/20) blend.  This will be a 2-ply when finished.


    Tomorrow, I am expecting a package from one of my handspinners and I need to do  something with color.  Stay tuned !!

    Monday, July 6, 2015

    Tour de Fleece Days 2 & 3 - July 5th - 6th

    Day 2 - Sunday July 5th 

    After yesterday with 4th of July fireworks and fun .... I wanted to sleep in, but my dogs had another idea.  I was jolted from a peaceful sleep at 6:15ish to my Mastiff, Gus barking, which is a rarity, so always cause for me to take a look. I just wanted to sleep to 7am <whine>.  I normally get up at 5-5:30 each morning to get things done before my daughter (4 years old) wakes up.  So what was Gus and my pain-in-the-butt-bark-at-her-own-shadown  Boston Mastiff, Dizzy, barking at?  My husband fixing the power washer outside. Sunday morning peace shattered. . . well at least coffee was ready and I half-asleep got a cup and settled in with George (my Hansen mS).

    2:04 PM 
    I finished the second bobbin (1st bobbin was done pre-tour) of my Jacob, bamboo, nylon, Angelina blend.   I will ply it tomorrow.

    12.4 oz ready to ply.  6.2 completed during #TdF2015.  #HotOffTheWheel #AlmaParkAlpacas #almapark #spinningyarn #handspunyarn #igspinners #spinnersofinstagram #TdFsapgap2015 #TourdeFleece2015

    Day 3 - Monday July 6th 
    12:04 PM 
    Plying complete!!

    Wow, that did seem to take forever! Of course other chores were also on the agenda this morning, so it really only took a total of about 2.5 hours.  I will skein it tonight or tomorrow as more store and farm chores, among other things need my attention.

    I plan to break it into 3 equal skeins after it soaks since it is 12 oz total for easier sell.  Currently before soaking and the possible poof that Jacob is know for, it is about 24-26 WPI which is a fingering weight.

    Done with the ply.  Took forever!!!  #TdF2015.  #HotOffTheWheel #AlmaParkAlpacas #almapark #spinningyarn #handspunyarn #igspinners #spinnersofinstagram #TdFsapgap2015 #TourdeFleece2015

    7:08 PM 
    I am done for the day and am just finishing up this post (after dinner) and before heading into the living room for some family time.

    What's on the agenda tomorrow? 
    1 - Skein up my Jacob blend and put in the soak.
    2 - Soak my All Colors™ TnT
    3 - Start spinning this Icelandic Wool.  This will be spun as a single in the "Lopi" style that Icelandic is so famous for.  It is a combination of the thel and tog spun together.  It is washed and then carded all together on the drum carder.  I took it off the drum carder in fat rolags.   This will be spun on my Ashford Joy wheel because I find it easier to do a single on that wheel more so than any other of my wheels.   It will be a thick yarn - worsted to aran weight of about 12 WPI.   I will be publishing a post on Icelandic wool in the next week and all the different ways and techniques (with pics) that can be done to this very versatile wool.
    4 - Make some fun funky super fat coiled art yarn from this pile.  It will be a corespun yarn, coiled on itself and then wrapped with silk hankies.  I will be videotaping part of the spin for you all to watch as well.  The silk hankies looked a little washed out in the pic, but they are the same colorway as the top on the left.   I will be doing this on my Hansen mS.

    I will switch between the 2 yarns so that I don't get bored :)

    Saturday, July 4, 2015

    Tour de Fleece Day 1 - July 4th

    Happy Birthday America !!

    I am going to chronicle my TdF journey here and do one post a day.

    7:23 AM- (with coffee in hand) 
    I will be doing the 2nd bobbin (6.2 oz) of this Jacob wool, bamboo, faux cashmere, Angelina combo. The first bobbin was completed prior to the tour.  I will be spinning on my Hansen mS.  I am shooting for a fingering weight (24 WPI) yarn, but Jabob normally poofs up, so it may be more towards sport once washed.  We will see.  My singles on the first bobbin approx 38 WPI right now.  This is going to be several skeins once completed, for the shop. 

    Here is the Ravelry link to all the info on this yarn (still in progress).

    6.2 oz in rolags waiting to be spun and 6.2 oz on the bobbin prior to the tour

    11:32 AM - (with interruptions from husband, child, and animals) 
    My progress this morning. . . .  2 oz spun.  I will continue more this evening after today's festivities and chores are completed.  

    10:54 PM 
    Did about 3 oz total and will finish this on Day 2 of TdF and maybe even ply. 

    And in other news  . . . . 
    I also skeined this up today and it will be in the shop sometime in the next few days.  It was spun prior to the TdF, but hey looking at colorful yarn is fun .....right?!?

    This is my signature All Colors™ TnT Self-Striping.  Some bobbles, coils and beehives as well :) Mix of wools, wool locks, alpaca, silk, sparkle. 

    All Colors™ TnT Self-Striping

    Saturday, June 13, 2015

    Tour de Fleece 2015 (Team Spin a Pound, Get a Pound™)

    I am so excited that Tour de Fleece (July 4 - July 26)  is around the corner!!  This year I am co-captain with some friends of the Spin a Pound, Get a Pound™ group.

    I am in the process of planning out what I will be spinning and will be posting pictures :)  A few weeks left to prep, then it's off to the races !!

    Here's out official team graphic:

    Friday, May 22, 2015

    Memorial Day 2015 Sale Starts NOW !

    The first of several shop updates for my Memorial Day weekend sale!! Save 10% using coupon code MEMORIAL2015 for 10% off on EVERYTHING in the store that is in stock!! Over 100 hand painted braids ready to ship!  Ends Monday at midnight Eastern time.

    Wednesday, May 20, 2015

    Spin a Pound, Get a Pound™ Inaugural Spin-Off March 2015

    I know I am really late in posting this - but the entire month of April went by with me pretty much skirting fleece all day and finding little time for internet stuff that required any thought.

    My group, Spin a Pound, Get a Pound™ had a spin-off competition in  March and the winners were chosen by group voting --- here is how I did :)

    To see ALL of the yarns entered, go to the official page for the contest.

    All of these yarns will be available for purchase except the "art yarn" skein.

    The spinning batt is available (and in it's second batch of production), so you can click here or the link below the pic to go directly to that listing on my website.

    The rest of the skeins will be available in a major Hand Spun Update on Monday May 25 (Memorial Day 2015) !!  I will post details then and most likely a coupon for ANY of the handspun in stock - so check back ....hint hint!!  There are lots of listings already on the hand spun page on my website, but there are some cool new ones coming including these.  Hope to see you there !

    Entered into the "2 or 3 ply balanced" category - 6th place - this was a TOUGH category with 23 entries

    Entered into the "Art Yarn" Category - 1st place - 18 entries

    Entered in "Wild and Crazy Art Batt" category - 2nd place - 11 entries
    I call this "A Little Birdie Told Me

    Entered into the "Natural Colored Yarn" category - this is made from roving available in my shop - 2nd place - 15 entries

    Entered into the "Navajo Ply" category - 3rd place - 14 entries 

    Entered into the "Raw Fleece to Yarn" category - 18 entries --- I came in 15th :(  My worst showing ever in a competition 

    Tuesday, May 19, 2015

    Freedom Ride 2015 - Burlington County

    We are lucky to live on a main road and we get a first row seat at this freedom ride each year. This is our third year! Our neighbor Jim proudly rides each year. Here is a few minutes of the ride going past our farm.  This ride celebrates veterans and the freedoms we enjoy because of them. The ride ends and the Joint Base McQuire-Dix-Lakehurst, which is just around the corner from us. It's like a big parade. Thank you to all the veterans out there !! For more info see

    Enjoy !

    Friday, May 15, 2015

    New colorways - Spinning batt and Yarn - Caribbean Coral

    A couple of fun colorways just in time for summer!! Daydream away with these colorful island fibers. Even if you can't go to the caribbean, you can have some in your life. You can go right to the product page by clicking "buy now" buttons or head on over to the The Yarn Shop at Alma Park

    Caribbean Coral Textured Batt - 2 oz

    Caribbean Coral Fingering Yarn in Donegal base

    Tuesday, May 12, 2015

    No-bake peanut butter cheesecake pie

    No-Bake Peanut Butter Cheesecake Pie 
    Having a farm, a family and a business on the homestead allows me to do one of my favorite things everyday! Cook !! I sometimes like to post food on my FB page and sometimes on Instagram with the hashtag #foodie.  I love food and I love to cook and bake !  

    Recently, I was asked to share my recipe for my peanut butter no-bake cheesecake.  This is a delicious, decadent dessert that is great for warmer weather so that you do not have to heat up the kitchen with your oven.  It is also great in cold weather months as well.  

    This recipe is not low-fat, it is not gluten or sugar or dairy is just yummy, easy and satisfying.  

    I always have the ingredients on hand and can throw this together in no-time when I know company is coming over. 

    FYI - you will need a mixer (hand or stand) or a food processor to make the pie filling.  You cannot do this by hand unless you have arms of steel. 

    Prep Time - 10 minutes
    Bake Time - None 

    Crust - 
    I use a prepared graham cracker crust (9 oz), but you can make your own. Yes, I know, it is easy to make a crust and since I have a food processor and stand mixer, it would be a piece of cake (pun intended), and  I normally do things from scratch, but this recipe is all about quick, fun and decadent! 

    Pie Filling - 
    8 oz cream cheese - room temperature
    1 cup smooth peanut butter - room temperature
    1 cup confectioners (powdered) sugar 
    1 tub (8 oz) Cool Whip Whipped Topping- thawed

    • Whip together the cream cheese and peanut butter until smooth.  I just turn on my stand mixer to medium and let it rip for 2 minutes, wipe the bowl down and let it go for another 2 minutes.  You cannot over whip this, but you can under whip.  The more you mix, the lighter and fluffier the pie will be. 
    • After wiping down the bowl again, slowly incorporate the confectioners sugar on a slow speed.  I say slowly, because if you don't you will have a snow cloud all over your countertop.  Once fully incorporated, mix again on medium for a minute or so. 
    • Take the bowl off the mixer and fold in the whipped topping by hand with a spatula. 

    Chocolate topping - 
    1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate (like Ghiardelli - do not use semi-sweet) 
    2 tsp solid vegetable shortening (I use Crisco) 

    • You can use a double boiler to melt the chocolate or a microwave.  Again, for me, because this recipe is all about quick and easy, I use the microwave at 15 second intervals, remove and stir until perfectly melted. 
    • Once melted, drizzle the chocolate over the pie filling in a sort of design, do not do a solid surface as the filling is soft and when you go to take a forkful, the pie will smoosh. 
    • Put pie in refrigerator for at least an hour. 
    Voila - easy, peasy and so good. 


    You can experiment with other "butters".  Almond, cashew, Nutella.  I haven't tried them, but I am sure they will be equally yummy ! 

    Now off I go to spin :) 

    If you make this, let me know how yours turns out. 

    Wednesday, April 8, 2015

    So what do you watch while spinning/knitting? - PARENTHOOD

    Many of my friends like to listen to music or binge-watch shows on Netflix etc. while spinning and/or knitting.  I do enjoy listening to music in the background as well, but I think most people can find something they enjoy on the radio or Spotify etc, so suggestions are typically not needed, and music is so subjective, that I don't think it makes for interesting blog fodder.

    I thought I would start writing about Shows/Movies that I think are worth watching.  While some shows are entertaining to pass the time,  I will only be discussing shows that have quality acting, writing and directing.  So while something like "Hart of Dixie" may be amusing, I will not recommend or discuss it, other than to say the acting is horrendous and the story lines would make Lucille Ball embarrassed!

    But I digress. . . .

    As of my writing this, I just finished binge-watching "Parenthood", so I am going to start with it.

    Don't worry, NO SPOILERS here folks :) 

    Seasons 1 - 5 are on Netflix, 1 - 4 on Amazon Prime.  For season 6, I had DVRed it as someone told me to watch it, but of course, I wanted to start from the beginning, because "that's how I roll".  

    This show dealt with some weighty issues such as: adoption, illness(es), marriage issues, infidelity, money issues, drugs/alcohol, veterans and just day to day life.  It did it all with a central love of family whose patriarch "Zeek" (Craig T Nelson) devoted his life to building.   The 4 siblings where believable and characters were richly defined. The trials and tribulations of each member and how family gathered around for good and bad was touching and sometimes inspirational.  I was particularly amazed as so many leading character story-lines could be so richly developed and carried throughout the 6 seasons and not a single cast member of the "original 6" was lost.  The show represented life with so much humor and pathos while never insulting our intelligence or skirting around issues.  Great actors all around and while "Sarah's"character (Lauren Graham) annoyed me often, Ray Romano was brilliant in a non-comedic role.  All the actors, are very talented, and all, including the children, were believable and unwavering in their characters. They were true to form throughout the entire series.  

    The final episode wrapped up the 6 seasons beautifully, but be warned, I have not cried that much since the final episode of M.A.S.H. and am now feeling a little melancholy that the Braverman Clan are not a part of my daily life as they were for the last 6 weeks.

    You definitely need to put this show on your list of "Shows to Spin With"!  I HIGHLY recommend this show to everyone and give it

    Wednesday, March 11, 2015

    Weaving Cloth and the wet finishing (fulling)

    It is rare when a "fiber artist" actually takes time out from making things for sale to make something for him/herself or the house.  Well, I took time out last week to make a table runner for my bookcase in the 3rd floor guest bath.  The reveal of the total bathroom remodel will be post on this blog in the coming weeks, as soon as the last remaining finishing touches are completed.  :)  

    This cloth was made from Debbie Bliss Fez yarn which is 85% merino and 15% camel.  It is a felt-able yarn which is what I wanted for this project.  

    I chose a Navy Blue and Pale Yellow colors.  I used an Ashford 24" rigid heddle loom with a 7.5 dent reed.  The yarn is a worsted weight.  The runner came out to approx 38 inches long and 11 inches wide after fulling.  It shrank about 3/4 of an inch in width and 3+ inches in length.   I hand twisted the fringe because I wanted it to hang off the sides rather than using a hem stitch etc.  

    To full the cloth, I used hot sudsy water and soaked for about 5 minutes to get it totally wet.  Then I simply scrubbed the cloth to itself longwise. Alternatively, I could have used a washboard, but I really wanted my hands to control the process.   I repeated this procedure 3 times until I got the tightness in the cloth I desired.   I wanted the colors to remain somewhat vibrant and not completely meshed with each other, but I also wanted the cloth to have some stiffness as it is a table runner, not a scarf.  Once I was done with the scrubbing, I alternated hot, cold, hot, cold baths, then squeezed (not rang) out the water and used a chamois to get even more water out and then laid it flat on my knitting blocking matts.  No pins or blocking needed.  

    Here is the start (on the loom), before wet finishing (fulling), on the blocking mat, and finally on the bookcase.  

    I am quite please with the results. . . what do you think? 

    Left to Right 1. On the loom, 2. Before fulling 3. On the blocking matt
    Bottom Finished piece in place