Sheep to Shawl...sort of...

I was about 11 years old when I first saw a Sheep to Shawl demonstration. I was at a downtown arts festival with other people, so I didn't get to stay to see the whole process (which would have taken a few hours), but I remember watching a lady demonstrate hand carders, while a newly shorn sheep stood nearby. I can only imagine what happened after I left--the carded batts being spun into yarn, the yarn being woven into cloth--but those freshly carded batts of wool fascinated me. "Wow," I thought. "Maybe someday I can do that, too. Nah, that's not likely."

"Someday" has come. I've already shown off a project from my angora rabbits, and now I can show off my first alpaca project, made from my very own alpaca that I sheared myself.

I chose this poncho (adapted from "I Want the Wrap" by Carolyn Kinghorn on Ravelry) as my first COMPLETELY MADE FROM SCRATCH alpaca project because I was looking for something with a South American flavor to match my South American camelids. I also wanted it to match the buttons that my in-laws brought me from their South American travels a few years back; the buttons are hand-carved from the wood of the Alerce tree (also called Patagonian Cypress), which grows in Chile and Argentina.

The yarn is a two-ply handspun, from the fleece of Fozzy the Alpaca. When I see him grazing out in the field he looks white, but this yarn is decidedly darker than that. According to the color chart published by the Alpaca Owners' Association, he is "medium fawn," which is three shades darker than white.

The yarn is pretty irregular, as is all of my handspun, so I didn't want much texture in the stitch pattern, and I used stockinette, with the cable accent along the edge.

The piece is knit as a big rectangle, 21"x62", then folded end-to-end, and the shoulder seam secured with buttons. Very simple, mindless knitting.

It's July right now, so I will put this poncho away for a few months. It's fun to realize, though, that just 10 weeks ago, Fozzy was still wearing this fiber. By the time the weather is cool enough for me to wear the poncho, he will have grown more fiber to replace it, and he'll stay toasty and comfortable through the winter.

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