Wool Maker Lane

knitting, spinning and life with alpacas

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Haircuts for the Boys

Yes the time finally came for Albs and Bootsy to be rid of their fleece.  We had been waiting quite a while for this to happen but unfortunately the shearer’s machine had to be sent to the workshop for an overhaul as it had recently sheared about 2000 sheep.  Our friend Richie, who organised the shearer, called me the night before to tell me to get the boys ready in the pen the following morning as he was coming at 1 p.m..  So about 11 o’clock I headed into the pen with two bowls of food and as they were munching the gate closed behind them…

Bootsy is always sheared first as he is the ‘headcase’ of the pair.  It takes two people to hold the alpaca down and one to do the shearing.  The shearer was incredibly slick and fast getting each animal sheared in about 30 – 40 minutes.


It was so funny to see them when they ran out of the pen almost a third of the size that they had previously been.  It must be quite a relief to the alpaca to be free of all of the fleece that had been so incredibly thick.  14102675_317076578637982_3650126020941887464_n

Albs also got his toe-nails clipped and both animals got a drench for worms and parasites…that was even less popular with them than the shearing itself!


And this is the incredible amount of fleece that came from the two alpacas.  Soon after the afternoon’s activities I lay an old sheet on the ground and graded each animal’s  fleece into three sections:

  1. No Way
  2. Okay
  3. Fine and lovely

The no way fleece comes from the legs, tail and head and also fleece that contains guard hairs. Fleece that is cut too short to be able to be spun is also in this category.

Okay fleece is fleece that’s soft or just hasn’t got a lot of crimp.

Fine and lovely comes mainly from the saddle area and rump.  It is very soft and has lots of crimp.


Once sorted the different grades are then put into old pillow cases, to reduce the possibility of mould, and placed somewhere dry ready to be carded.

This was a great day the results of which will keep me busy during the long winter nights!

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Summery Projects

Infinite Cables

It’s been a busy summer with LOTS of events going on so knitterly projects have been attended to in fits and starts.  I started to swatch a cable and found that I enjoyed it so much that I couldn’t stop…


It is still on the needles and I am trying to decide whether to simply sew the ends together and turn it into a headband for the winter or to pick up the stitches on one side of the band and to make it into a hat.  No doubt I will make a choice when the bad weather comes in.

Hata Shéamuis


This is Hata Shéamuis (pronounced Hata Hamish).  It comes under my ‘auto pilot’ knitting category.  I spent a long time in a waiting room recently and had the forethought to bring a couple of balls of wool and some needles with me.  The bulk of the hat was knitted at this time and by the end of my visit I had managed to get up to the decreases. Two different types of wool were used.  The darker one, which looks almost blue in this picture but is actually an emerald green, is Donegal Tweed and the multicoloured yarn is from Katia.  The hat was knitted on a 5 mm circular needle.


Albie’s Eye Alert


Poor old Albs got another eye infection.  I went to the local vet and was given two bottles of eye ointments…to be administered an hour apart.  Now anybody who knows alpacas will understand that you might be able to fool them once with a bit of extra grub to get them into a pen, allowing the squeezing of eye drops to take place, but there is no way that they’re going to fall for that trick 60 minutes later.  With this knowledge I decided to leave Albs in the pen while I had a spot of lunch…..Forty five minutes later I returned to an empty pen.  Albs had crushed the sheep wire and had leapt over it.  I could spy him at the bottom of the back field but I knew that no more medical intervention was going to take place that afternoon.  Miraculously the following day the eye had all cleared up.  This was amazing and quite a relief as the vet had said that if he didn’t recover he would have to go to UCD in Dublin  All is well thankfully and the eye problem was less serious than I’d expected.

Peg Weaving


Last Sunday my mother and I had the joy of going a long to the Irish Guild of Spinners, Weavers and Dyers’ meeting in The Constant Knitter in Francis Street in Dublin.  Here we met lots of interesting women with their various wheels, spindles and table looms.  It was a wonderful opportunity to share both experiences and information about yarn and fabric- making issues in a really relaxed and supportive environment.  As we were the only people who’d arrived sans projet we were introduced to peg weaving and were really taken with it.  Merely the idea of looping a warp to the bottom of small sticks seems remarkable to me and it was just such an easy way of making a braid or a belt.  It would also be a great way of introducing children to weaving.


Private Spinning Fest


Earlier in the summer I arrived in Bristol with LOTS of fleece with the expectation that I would have it spun up and ready to knit.  What I hadn’t banked on was leaving all of the bobbins in Ireland and as a consequence no spinning occurred.  This gave me the opportunity when I returned to Ireland to card even more fleece which, given the beautiful weather we had, was no hardship.  Last week I returned to Bristol, laden with plenty of Bootsy’s gorgeous carded fleece and plenty of bobbins.  14022183_314004035611903_2940642724327335998_n

This is my current project…and given the rainy conditions outside there’s no better place to be other than in the lounge chatting and spinning.  Perfect!




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Meet The Midwife’s Bunny….


There has been a lot of interest recently in the BBC series ‘Call the Midwife.’  It’s a drama about a group of midwives working in London in the late 1950’s and early 60’s.  This has produced a certain amount of interest in the knitting and crochet world as a result of the beautiful infant clothes and baby blankets that are often shown on the screen.   Rebecca, from Littlemonkeyscrochet.com was so taken with the handiwork on display that she has written a crochet pattern for one of the blankets which she calls ‘The Midwife Blanket.’

I have my own tale to tell about the work of the London midwife during the 1960’s.  The other day as I was going through a box of belongings I pulled out ‘Bunny.’  This little fella was knitted for me by the midwife who delivered me nearly fifty years ago.  How wonderful is that?  It just goes to show how these amazing nurses really went (and still go) the extra mile for their patients.

It has been knit in a basic garter stitch  using white and blue wool, blue being used to imply clothing, and finished off with embroidered facial features and buttons.  Bunny was stuffed with either nylons or stockings.  I’m not sure which but there is a little piece poking out of the back of its left arm.


I feel so lucky to still have this toy which was given to me by a most important person and it is such a privilege to be able to share this story with you all.