March 14, 2007

Signs of Spring

I could not resist grabbing these daisies when I went grocery shopping. Sometimes it just feels right to have fresh flowers to wake the mind up from winters sleep.

I also spotted my first hummingbird of the year. He was fling around the front porch. I am sure he is back from last year and looking for the hummingbird feeder I had up. I better get that back up on the porch pronto, before he returns with friends.

This is a sure sign of spring, Brandy napping on the front porch soaking in the sunshine. I am hoping to find time to work on the porch this weekend. It could use a good scrubbing. I am lucky enough to have a friend that wants to unload her patio furniture so she can buy a new set. It just is not in the budget for us this year to buy new furniture for the porch so I gladly accepted her offer. I told her I would pay her back with lovely afternoons sipping cool lemonade, comfortably sitting on the porch watching the alpacas in the yard, and of course working on our latest stitching projects.

Cabled Hand Bag

I know it does not look like I have been working on much, but I have. It took me awhile to design and figure out what kind of cabled bag I wanted to make. I looked all through every one of my pattern books and magazines. I finally settled on these two patterns to use in designing my bag.

This is the Lush Cable Pullover from Winter 2004 Interweave Knits

This is the Simple scarf from the book Cables Untangled by Melissa Leapman.

I managed to put it all together and came up with a 24 row repeat pattern. This is as far as I have gotten with the pattern completing just 24 rows. I plan to make one long strip then fold it in half to make the bag. With this height and length of the repeat I think a total of 6 times for the repeat should be long enough. That way it will give three of the repeats on each side of the bag. I know I will probably use fabric for the bottom of the bag, so as not to snag the knit while setting the bag down. Not sure what I will do for handles. I think I will wait and see how it comes along then decide what looks best.

Recommended Alpaca Books

I thought I would answer Nickey’s question. She commented on an earlier post and wanted to know if I had any recommendations on books to learn more about raising alpacas. I think your best resource for that would be going to visit alpaca farms and talking with alpaca owners. I receive lots of emails on the subject of alpacas, and normally I respond directly to the person but I did not have any contact information for Nickey and since this is a popular question I thought I should post about it.

Unfortunately there is not much material available on alpacas compared to other livestock. The good thing is that most of the people in the alpaca business are very friendly and are willing to share their knowledge on the subject.

My first recommendation would be the Alpaca Field Manual by Dr. Norman Evans. We have the second edition. We are constantly referring back to this book for information on raising our alpacas. Just this last weekend we were trying to decide what kind of pasture seed to buy this year to plant for the alpacas, and there is a section on pasture grass and which grasses are best suited for the alpaca’s nutrition needs. The chapters covered in this book are: Basics, Immunization, Parasites, Diagnostics, Drug Dosages, Birthing, Cria related, Nutrition, & Skin & Fiber. This book is an excellent resource with a wide variety of topics to help in raising your alpacas. This book is not the easiest to find, some alpaca supply stores carry it. I found it at

My second recommendation is the Caring for Llamas and Alpacas a Health and Management Guide by Dr. Clare Hoffman & Ingrid Asmus. This is another one of our books that we constantly refer back to. This book also has many illustrations that really help in figuring out what to do in the situation. The topics covered in this book are: Buying a Llama or Alpaca, Concerns of travel, Restraint, Nutrition, Herd Health, Teeth, Eyes, Wounds, Lumps and Bumps, Skin Disorders, Lameness, Heat and cold problems, Respiratory problems, Digestive problems, The down Llama or alpaca, Reproduction, Newborn, Mastitis, Aging, How to give injections, Passing a stomach tube, & taking a temperature. This book is more accessible and can be found at Amazon or most book stores.

I will throw in two more for good measure.

The Camelid Companion by Marty McGee Bennett. This was one of the first books we bought way before we even owned any alpacas. It was recommended by one of the alpaca farms we visited. This book is a good resource to teach you how to relate to the alpaca. It is a handling and training guide. It is a thick book packed with tons of instruction with photos. We have used this book to learn how to properly harness our alpaca and what steps to take to train your alpaca on a lead. This book is a good read to learn how the alpaca thinks and relates to us, and how we can do our best to keep our alpacas happy and healthy through proper herd management.

Lastly I would recommend Llama & Alpaca Neonatal Care. This book is a great resource that covers preparing for the birth, birthing, & newborn care and many other topics. Most likely you will be the only one there when your baby alpaca is born and you must be prepared for whatever may happen. Best case scenario you look out the window and there is already a baby cria nursing with Momma and you did not have to do a thing. In any event you want to be prepared for the worse and this book will help you get ready.

If anyone else has any other Alpaca book recommendations feel free to comment on this post. We are constantly looking for good resources to help us along on this alpaca adventure.