July 2010

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water drop tadpoles
squirm across the car window
swimming in the wind

rain drops on a car window


And this is where random meets charming. Or something like that.

handmade sou'wester hat on bobble head doll

Cute huh? So here’s the story. Because you know I didn’t do this project completely for the fun of it. It’s Clam Festival weekend here in Yarmouth and a friend of mine was somehow involved in obtaining the prizes for one of the clam shucking events. So she ordered these cute bobble head trophies. The style reminds me of Precious Moments or Joan Walsh Anglund. I don’t know who’s idea it was to put sou’wester hats on them but I got the call to make it happen.

bobble head trophy with hand sewn yellow fisherman hat

Making the pattern took some doing. I had hoped to find a pattern online that I could shrink down but I could find no such animal so I ended up looking at pictures of sou’wester hats (thanks to google images) and drafting the pattern myself. I also couldn’t find the fabric I wanted to use but this yellow nylon served fairly well. Luckily I’ve discovered the use of freezer paper which served as both a pattern for cutting and a guide for stitching around. I ended up making four of these little fisherman rain hats, so we have an extra one which happened to fit one of the dolls. I suppose now she needs a rain slicker to go with it. Sigh.

I think I’ll size this pattern up and make a sunhat or two for the kids in canvas or twill. It ended up being a fairly easy construction.

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The animal: Alpaca named Xena. Lives right here in Maine and I got to meet her and see her home: the most amazingly clean farm ever. The first thing that struck me was how consistent the shearing was on each animal. Like a work of art.

shorn alpaca

The fleece: Four pounds of it, minimal VM, a fair amount of dust but well skirted and easy to clean. Alpaca fleece does not contain lanolin as sheep fleece does. I had an interesting time unfolding this out of the bag as it wanted to drift apart. For now I have carefully put it back in the bag until I can come up with a plan on how best to wash it. The second picture shows a single unwashed lock, 4″+ staple length.

raw alpaca fleece

lock of raw alpaca fiber unwashed

The fiber: Lacking fiber combs, I used a hair pick to comb through the washed and dried lock, preparing it to spin. Now I understand the difference between commercially prepared top and hand combed top.

washed and combed alpaca lock fleece fiber spindle

The spinning: Hand spun and andean plied into a lace weight/light fingering yarn, about 20wpi I think.

laceweight alpaca single yarn hand spindle andean plying bracelet lace weight single into two ply yarn two-ply alpaca yarn handspun laceweight

The finished yarn: about 6 yards out of one lock. I did weigh it but I don’t remember how much it weighed. Oops. Deliciously soft and pleasantly springy.

two ply hand spindled alpaca lace weight light fingering yarn mini skein

I plan on blending some of this alpaca fiber with angora from my parents’ rabbits. I may also try dyeing some of it. I want to use the brown as an accent somehow to remind me of cute Xena’s spot. Perhaps a little scarf with a single large circle of brown?

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The boy was lent a “learning buddy” by his teacher this year. A hedgehog by the name of Prickles helped the boy with various tasks at school and made visits home on the weekends. They were fast friends and Prickles made an appearance in many of the boy’s drawings and stories. As the end of the school year drew near the boy was sad that he would have to leave his buddy behind. But he was consoled by the fact that he would always have “Prickles” in his heart, and that next year the little hedgehog would be helping some other little boy or girl in his old classroom.


On the last Friday of school, the boy came bounding off the bus, announcing with great excitement that Prickles had come home to stay. There were grand plans of a home for the hedgehog with tunnels and slides, cozy holes, lots of toys and a running wheel. The next day at the transfer station (read dump) the boy and I picked through the trash-to-treasures pile looking for any oddments that might make an appropriate home for a stuffie hedgehog. I was secretly hoping not to find anything when suddenly I spied this round wonder with a handle sticking out. I told the boy it would make a fine amusement ride for Prickles and some of his other animal friends. The boy was delighted and completely unaware of my ulterior motive for allowing this strange contraption to enter our house.


The clear lid lifts off to add or remove objects. When the handle is spun the inner basket whirls with surprising speed. Just about any of the little people and animals that would fit in the basket hopped in for a dizzying test spin.

And what is this carnival ride for stuffies in reality? I’ll admit I’m not sure. I initially thought it was a hefty salad spinner but it is way overbuilt if so. My guess is that it’s a countertop washing machine for clothes. I plan to use it for spinning the remaining water out of washed fiber or yarn. ;)

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