Al­paca

Crochet! - - Fiber Focus - B Y JA C K I E DAU G H E R T Y

What was once con­sid­ered an ex­otic fiber among hand crafters, al­paca has be­come com­mon­place, even show­ing up in the yarn aisle at big box stores! There is a rea­son al­paca has be­come so pop­u­lar; the yarns are soft and warm, mak­ing them ideal for cro­cheted hats, scarves, cowls, sweaters, throws and more! Let’s take a mo­ment to clear up some misconceptions about the fiber and its source. Al­pacas are part of the South Amer­i­can Camelid fam­ily along with lla­mas and their lesser known cousins, vi­cu­nas and gua­na­cos. Al­pacas, raised mainly for their soft, fine fiber, are smaller than lla­mas, which are used mostly as pack an­i­mals. Al­paca fiber is ex­tremely fine with lit­tle guard hair. Lla­mas, on the other hand, have a very dis­tinc­tive dou­ble coat of guard hairs and softer downy fibers. Al­paca fibers are often finer than cash­mere with the suri breed hav­ing a mi­cron count of 10–15 (1 mi­cron = 1/1000 mil­lime­ter). More hair- like in qual­ity than sheep wool, the fiber has a silky sheen and lus­trous feel. Warmer than wool, al­paca fibers have ex­cel­lent in­su­la­tive qual­i­ties due to the hol­low core of the fiber.

Al­paca yarns might be best known for all the won­der­ful nat­u­ral col­ors avail­able, rang­ing from creamy whites to tans, browns, grays and black. There are over 25 nat­u­ral stan­dard­ized col­ors of al­paca fiber rec­og­nized by breed­ers and the al­paca in­dus­try, but the fiber also takes com­mer­cial dyes well, pro­duc­ing a range of col­ors from soft pas­tels to deeply sat­u­rated hues. Al­paca fibers are stronger and more re­sis­tant to abra­sion than merino wools and con­tain no grease or lano­lin, mak­ing them a pos­si­ble op­tion for peo­ple with wool al­ler­gies. Many of these char­ac­ter­is­tics make al­paca com­fort­able when worn next to the skin, pro­vid­ing lux­u­ri­ous warmth.

Al­though rais­ing al­pacas has be­come very pop­u­lar among hobby farm­ers and hand spin­ners in the United States, Peru still pro­duces about 90% of the world’s al­paca, in­clud­ing the pro­duc­tion of yarns for the craft yarn mar­ket to­day.

Years ago al­paca yarns were more ex­pen­sive and harder to find, but now the mar­ket boasts enough choices to keep our cro­chet hooks fly­ing as we ex­plore all the dif­fer­ent op­tions from gos­samer lace weight to soft cloud- like chunky yarns.

Choos­ing from all the won­der­ful al­paca yarns avail­able for our article was dif­fi­cult, but we fi­nally de­cided to share just a small sam­pling of what is cur­rently avail­able in beau­ti­ful shades of creams, grays and win­ter blues.

El Cielo from Cas­cade yarns is classified as a DK- weight yarn due to its soft, fuzzy tex­ture, but you’ll find al­most 580 yards of brushed al­paca love­li­ness in each 100- gram skein! To re­ally en­joy the beauty of this al­paca/ny­lon blend yarn, try work­ing with an H/8/5mm hook or larger. We en­vi­sion a lacy shawl us­ing an M/ N-13/9mm, N/ P-15/10mm or P/Q/15mm hook!

New this fall from Tahki Yarns, Alden Print adds al­paca fibers for a touch of ex­tra soft­ness to this merino wool/acrylic blend. With its sub­dued color vari­a­tion, this yarn will make gor­geous fash­ion ac­ces­sories. Cro­cheted with a smaller hook, the color vari­a­tions in this yarn will be more pre­dom­i­nant. Or, try cro­chet­ing an open lacy stitch with a larger hook; the open­ness will cre­ate a gen­tle pro­gres­sion, blend­ing the col­ors for a softly muted over­all ef­fect.

Clas­sic Elite Yarns brings us an unusual blend, com­bin­ing the soft­ness of al­paca with linen and Done­gal tweed wool for added tex­ture and color. From a tai­lored jacket to a wa­ter­fall front cardi­gan, a lacy shawl or cowl to a pair of mitts with ca­bles, Tel­luride is the kind of yarn that works well for so many dif­fer­ent projects.

Light as a cloud, Ber­roco An­dean Mist is a brushed al­paca/ silk blend with 164 yards per 25- gram ball. This in­cred­i­bly soft, light­weight yarn is per­fect for shawls, scarves, cowls and lacy sweaters sure to warm you on the chill­i­est of win­ter days.

At first glance, Am­phora from Univer­sal Yarn might ap­pear to be just an­other brushed al­paca yarn. But make sure you give this af­ford­able yarn an­other look! The brushed sur­face adds just a slight bit of tex­ture to this evenly spun yarn, which boasts 306 yards per skein. With 10 col­ors to choose from, I am en­vi­sion­ing a cozy ca­bled afghan for this win­ter! But of course it would be lovely for gar­ments too.

For al­paca purists, there is noth­ing like Blue Sky Al­pacas yarns. With over a dozen al­paca and al­paca- blend yarns, each with its own in­cred­i­ble color range, mak­ing a de­ci­sion of which yarn to use for your next project will be an in­de­ci­sively bliss­ful ex­pe­ri­ence! Our sam­ple is a tried-and- true fa­vorite; Sport Weight, a 100% al­paca yarn with a soft lus­ter and springy soft­ness, comes in over 30 col­ors, both nat­u­ral and dyed. The pos­si­bil­i­ties are end­less!

Add a touch of silk and a pinch of wool and you have Cosma, a stun­ning blended yarn from Ber­roco, which ex­udes el­e­gance and so­phis­ti­ca­tion. This multi- plied and re­fined twisted yarn is per­fect for heir­loom projects. Wouldn’t a lacy blan­ket be the per­fect way to wel­come a new baby? Or how about a beaded shrug to com­ple­ment the per­fect wed­ding dress?

With an as­tound­ing range of over 35 nat­u­ral and dyed col­ors, Her­riot from Ju­niper Moon Farm is 100% baby al­paca love­li­ness! (Re­mem­ber: Al­pacas are given a hair­cut to har­vest their fibers, so the an­i­mals are not harmed!) Be­cause al­paca is so warm and each hank is 219 yards, you can’t go wrong cro­chet­ing up a quick and lacy cowl, or get 2 hanks and make a nice shawl. What bet­ter way to cozy up to the fire this win­ter!

One word de­scribes this Baby Al­paca DK yarn from King Cole— yum! This range of gen­tly muted heathered col­ors is enough to tempt any fiber lover! Ex­tremely soft, any­thing you make from this yarn is sure to be­come a fa­vorite ac­ces­sory. Try cro­chet­ing it with an H/8/5mm hook for an open look that is not too lacy but still lets this in­cred­i­ble fiber shine through.

Can you spin a cloud? Ber­roco seems to have cap­tured the essence of cloud­like soft­ness in their al­paca boucle yarn, North Star. Al­paca fibers can pro­duce very dense yarns when spun tightly, but this yarn in­cor­po­rates an airi­ness in its con­struc­tion that will pro­duce light-as-air gar­ments and fash­ion ac­ces­sories. Avail­able in nat­u­ral col­ors only, this yarn, if cro­cheted with an L/11/8mm hook, will work up quickly, just in time for win­ter!

Baby Al­paca Grande from Ply­mouth Yarn of­fers even more temp­ta­tion for quick- to- make projects. With al­most 72 nat­u­ral, solid and heathered col­ors, this is an al­paca lover’s par­adise! The softly spun 2- ply con­struc­tion cre­ates a squishy, hug­gable yarn— all the best al­paca has to of­fer!

Cas­cade Yarns Eco Cloud of­fers an­other so­lu­tion to cre­at­ing a light­weight bulky yarn. The unique, lofty chainette con­struc­tion of this merino wool/al­paca blend will give your cro­chet projects a unique tex­ture. Since chunky al­paca yarns can be heavy, the ad­di­tion of wool of­fers struc­tural sup­port to bulkier gar­ments such as long cardi­gans or sweater coats.

Color Duo is a unique sin­gle- ply, color- twisted yarn from Cas­cade Yarns that is sure to get your cro­chet hook mov­ing! The sub­tle sheen of the al­paca cou­pled with lus­cious col­ors means any­thing you cro­chet with this worsted- weight yarn will be­come cov­eted by all your friends and fam­ily! How about a long scarf with a match­ing slouchy hat?

If you have never cro­cheted with al­paca yarns be­fore, I hope I have tempted you to try a new fiber and ex­pe­ri­ence for your­self the soft­ness that only al­paca yarns can de­liver! Win­ter is com­ing— give al­paca a try and stay warm this win­ter!

C!

Though I’ve never been to Ok­la­homa, I was able to take a vir­tual tour of the Gourmet Yarn Com­pany in Ok­la­homa City! Here’s what I learned in my in­ter­view with owner Mar­garet A. Schroeder. C!: Where is your store? Mar­garet of Gourmet Yarn (GY): 2915 W. Brit­ton Road, Ok­la­homa City, OK 73120

C!: Do you have a Face­book page or web­site?

GY: We have both! www.gourmet­yarnco.com

C!: What per­cent­age of your cus­tomers are pri­mar­ily cro­cheters? GY: Ap­prox­i­mately 20%. C!: Do you have cro­chet classes or staff mem­bers who cro­chet?

GY: Yes, to both ques­tions. Cro­chet was ac­tu­ally my first love, and I still love it. C!: Do you sell cro­chet books and mag­a­zines, tools and no­tions?

GY: Yes, and we have cro­cheted swatches on display in ad­di­tion to the knit ones.

C!: Do you have any spe­cial events at your store?

GY: We have a yearly fall re­treat and we have a so­cial potluck the se­cond Satur­day of ev­ery month. We also have a lounge where ev­ery­one is wel­come to sit and stitch.

C!: Any­thing else you’d like to share?

GY: We strive for ex­cel­lence by mak­ing sure we are qual­i­fied teach­ers in the field. We have a per­son whose only job is to teach and pro­mote cro­chet. She is also a de­signer.

The Gourmet Yarn Co. has been Ok­la­homa City’s full- ser­vice yarn store since 2004. The shop was founded by pro­pri­etor Mar­garet Schroeder, TKGA Master Hand Knit­ter, in Septem­ber 2004. Since then it has served an ev­er­grow­ing com­mu­nity of cus­tomers with qual­ity sup­plies and an in­no­va­tive cal­en­dar of classes. Our events, such as the monthly yarn- in, are pop­u­lar with knit­ters, cro­cheters, spin­ners, weavers and any­one in­ter­ested in fiber arts. Our staff is com­mit­ted to pro­vid­ing the best ser­vice, yarns and ac­ces­sories avail­able to the novice as well as the most ex­pe­ri­enced knit­ter and cro­cheter. We look for­ward to serv­ing your fiber needs and sat­is­fy­ing your cre­ative ap­petite!

C!

The Gourmet Yarn Co. 2915 W. Brit­ton Road Ok­la­homa City, OK 73120 (405) 286-3737 Web: www.gourmet­yarnco.com Face­book: Gourmet Yarn Com­pany

MA­TE­RI­ALS

• King Cole Drifter DK light ( DK) weight acrylic/ cot­ton/ wool yarn ( 31/2 oz/ 328 yds/ 100g per ball):

2 balls # 1355 Florida • Size G/ 6/ 4mm cro­chet hook or size needed to ob­tain gauge • Ta­pes­try nee­dle

GAUGE

17 dc = 4 inches; 10 dc rows = 3 inches

PAT­TERN NOTES

Weave in loose ends as work pro­gresses. Join with slip stitch as in­di­cated un­less oth­er­wise stated. Chain-3 at be­gin­ning of row counts as first dou­ble cro­chet un­less oth­er­wise stated.

SPE­CIAL STITCHES

Pop­corn (pc): 5 dc in in­di­cated sp, drop lp from hook, in­sert hook from front to back in top of first dc, pick up dropped lp, draw through st on hook. Sin­gle cro­chet join (sc join): Place slip knot on hook, in­sert hook in in­di­cated st, yo, pull up a lp, yo and draw through both lps on hook.

SCARF

Rnd 1 ( WS): Ch 220, tak­ing care not to twist, join (see Pat­tern Notes) in first ch to form a ring, ch 1, sc in each ch around, join in beg sc, turn. (220 sc)

Rnd 2 (RS): Ch 3 (see Pat­tern Notes), dc in each sc around, join in top of beg ch-3, turn. (220 dc)

Rnds 3–12: Ch 3, [ fpdc (see Stitch Guide) around next dc, bpdc (see Stitch Guide) around next dc] around, to last dc, fpdc around last dc, join in top of beg ch-3, do not turn.

Rnd 13: Ch 1, sc in each dc around, join in beg sc, turn. (220 sc)

Top Edg­ing

Rnd 14 (RS): Ch 1, sc in first sc, [ch 5, sk next sc, pc (see Spe­cial Stitches) in next sc, ch 5, sk next sc*, sc in next sc] around, end­ing last rep at *, join in beg sc, do not turn. (55 pc, 55 sc, 110 ch-5 sps)

Rnd 15: Ch 1, 5 sc in each ch-5 sp around, join in beg sc. Fas­ten off.

Bot­tom Edg­ing

Rnd 1 (RS): With RS fac­ing, sc join (see Spe­cial Stitches) in any sc, [ch 5, sk next sc, pc in next sc, ch 5, sk next sc*, sc in next sc] around, end­ing last rep at *, join in beg sc, do not turn. (55 pc, 55 sc, 110 ch-5 sps)

Rnd 2: Rep rnd 15 of Top Edg­ing.

CON­FI­DENT BE­GIN­NER

FIN­ISHED MEA­SURE­MENTS

8 inches wide x 44 inches long, be­fore twist­ing

MA­TE­RI­ALS

• Univer­sal Yarn Up­town Worsted medium ( worsted) weight acrylic yarn ( 31/2 oz/ 180 yds/ 100g per skein): 1 skein each # 320 egg­plant

and # 322 sil­ver grey • Size G/ 6/ 4mm cro­chet hook or size needed to ob­tain gauge • Ta­pes­try nee­dle

GAUGE

Mesh Scarf: 17 dc = 4 inches; 12 rows = 4 inches Fan Scarf: 4 sm fans = 5 inches; 8 rows = 4 inches

PAT­TERN NOTES

Re­fer to Stitch Di­a­grams on page 77 as needed. Weave in loose ends as work pro­gresses. Chain-3 at be­gin­ning of row counts as first dou­ble cro­chet un­less oth­er­wise stated.

Dou­ble the lay­ers but end­less styling pos­si­bil­i­ties with this twist­ing and ver­sa­tile cowl.

SPE­CIAL STITCHES

Long sin­gle cro­chet ( long sc): Sc in base of in­di­cated st 1 row be­low. Sin­gle cro­chet join (sc join): Place slip knot on hook, in­sert hook in in­di­cated st, yo, pull up a lp, yo and draw through both lps on hook. Be­gin­ning tre­ble cro­chet (beg tr): Ch 3, in­sert hook in back bar (see il­lus­tra­tion) of 2nd ch from hook, yo and draw up a lp, in­sert hook in back bar of 3rd ch from hook, yo and draw up a lp, in­sert hook in first st of row, yo and draw up a lp, [yo, pull through 2 lps on hook] 3 times. Small fan (sm fan): ( Tr, [ch 1, tr] 3 times) in same sp. Large fan ( lg fan): ( Tr, ch 1, 3 tr, ch 1, tr) in same place.

COWL Mesh Scarf

Row 1 (RS): With grey, ch 33, dc in 4th ch from hook (beg 3 sk chs count as first dc) and in each ch across, turn. (31 dc)

Row 2: Ch 1, sc in each st across, turn. (31 sc)

Row 3: Ch 1, sc in first st, [ long sc (see Spe­cial Stitches) in next st, sc in next st] across, turn. (15 long sc, 16 sc)

Row 4: Rep row 2. (31 sc)

Row 5: Ch 3 (see Pat­tern Notes), dc in each st across, turn. (31 dc)

Row 6: Ch 1, hdc in first st, [ch 1, sk next st, hdc in next st] across, turn. (16 hdc, 15 ch-1 sps)

Row 7: Ch 3, dc in each st and ch-1 sp across, turn. (31 dc)

Rows 8–115: [Rep rows 2–7 con­sec­u­tively] 18 times.

Rows 116–120: Rep rows 2– 6. Fas­ten off.

Edg­ing

With RS fac­ing and work­ing in ends of rows, sc join (see Spe­cial Stitches) grey in first row, 2 tr in next row, [sc in next row, 2 tr in next row] across, sk rows as needed to pre­vent ruf­fling. Fas­ten off. Rep across other edge.

Note: Pairs of tr are in­tended to pucker. Gen­tly push pucker to RS of Scarf.

Fan Scarf

Row 1 ( WS): With egg­plant, ch 29, sc in 2nd ch from hook, [ch 3, sk next 2 chs, sc in next ch] across, turn. (10 sc, 9 ch-3 sps)

Row 2 (RS): Beg tr (see Spe­cial Stitches) in first sc, sk next ch-3 sp, [ sm fan (see Spe­cial Stitches) in next ch-3 sp, tr in next ch-3 sp] 3 times, sm fan in next ch-3 sp, sk last ch-3 sp, tr in last sc, turn. (4 sm fans, 5 tr) Row 3: Ch 1, sc in first tr, (ch 3, sc in first ch-1 sp, ch 3, sk next ch-1 sp, sc in last ch-1 sp) of each sm fan across, ch 3, sc in last tr, turn. (9 ch-3 sps)

Rows 4– 81: [Rep rows 2 and 3 al­ter­nately] 39 times. Fas­ten off.

Edg­ing

With RS fac­ing and work­ing in ends of sc (odd­num­bered) rows, sc join grey in first row, [ lg fan (see Spe­cial Stitches) in next sc row, sc in next sc row] across, fas­ten off. Rep across other edge.

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