You know, Alpacas live in the mountains

I finished my Zuzu’s Petals. Actually, I finished it twice. Despite being really sure that I wasn’t going to have enough yarn, I had more than enough, and ended up embiggenning the pattern pretty substantially. When I realized that there was a ton of yarn left, I did an extra repeat of the lace, and then several more rows of the last section – increasing a little near the bottom edge so that it would keep flaring and lie flat. Worked a treat too – and when the time came to cast off, I took the suggestion in the pattern, and did a really stretchy bind-off, and while I was doing it, it was coming out sort of … ruffly. “That bind-off is too stretchy” I told myself, and then I said that thing that every knitter always says while they’re doing something that clearly isn’t working.  “It will block out” I muttered, and I kept right on going. The whole thing had taken less than 24 hours. I wasn’t going to let a little something like common sense slow me down. Even though that sort of thing never blocks out, I proceeded to finish, soak it, then stand around with pins and high hopes, trying to block out the ruffly edge.

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It didn’t block out. When I was done, all I had was a wet cowl with a ruffly edge.

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Now, the humidity is about 120% in Toronto right now, and this is alpaca, and so drying took a long time, but when it was finally dry,  it truly hadn’t blocked out. (I really had hoped that drying might fix it, but it never does, and it didn’t.) I sat myself down, undid the entire bind off, picked all the stitches back up, and did my regular bind-off all the way around.

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Victory, my pets, was mine. This time it lay perfectly flat, the edge all I’d hoped for, and more.  I decided that I would try it on and take a few pictures to show you. There are none. I went out in the backyard, and tried to pull it over my sweaty self – it’s about 40 degrees here today (That’s 104, for my American friends) and I almost had instant heatstroke. It was on me for about 13 seconds, the alpaca clinging to me, the fuzz dampening, me getting warmer and warmer, and in the end, I couldn’t do it. I had to get it off me before I died from the attempt.

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Pattern: Zuzu’s Petals. Yarn: My own handspun, from Upstream Alpacas hand painted combed top, 100% baby alpaca, in “Cappuccino”.

It’s going to look great on me in January. That’s when I’m putting it on again.

55 thoughts on “You know, Alpacas live in the mountains

  1. It turned out beautifully. Well worth the time picking out the cast-off and reworking it. And now you are ready for cold weather or for gifting. I have finally finished my falling leaves shawl and am slowly, slowly casting off 385 stitches. The shawl looks nice, but the color…sell, it was really pretty on the skein.

  2. I’m amazed you didn’t melt and have heat stroke putting that on in this weather! You are brave. It’s 96 in central North Carolina today and the humidity is making me sweat when I even think about going outside. Thank Bob for air conditioning. Stay cool!

    • I’m in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and I am thanking Bob for air conditioning and lower humidity today! I’m from Australia and am finding the humidity to be worse than the heat over there!

  3. It’s beautiful, as is everything you do.
    But Steph… You’re in the Great White North! I predict you can wear your cowl by the beginning of October!

  4. This was me a few weeks ago when I finished a 100% handspun alpaca Hitofude. It was only 90F that day, so I suffered through 3 minutes of photos, but oh my goodness that sucker isn’t coming back out for a while.

  5. wow – that really does look like a cup of frothy cappuccino. I’m not a brown person normally, but I so want to cast on a coffee color gradient shawl right now!! (even though, including one Christmas gift, I have 5 shawlettes and a couple of scarves on the needles….arg)

  6. As a Texan who is also currently enduring 100+ F days, I read that you put this thing on outside and immediately thought “Is she crazy?! That’s nuts!!!”

    I hope my Zuzu’s Petals comes out as lovely as yours (though it’s not a color shifting yarn, and taking way longer than 24 hours).

  7. You’ll probably need it by October – how often have we had snow at Hallowe’en (or even Thanksgiving)? Looks great!

  8. Too hot for anything. I just dumped a handful of ice cubes into my coffee. My house is nearly 80, and it feels like a freezer compared to outside. The shawl and the colourway is gorgeous.

  9. I absolutely love your Cappuccino cowl. Total wow factor. It is currently 30 C. (86F) at 7 pm. I would buy it in a second. LOL. Hope you get a chance to sail tonight.

  10. Yup. It’s hot here too. I am having a difficult time knitting at all as we have no A/C. But we persevere! The cowl is beautiful and I love its non-ruffleness.

  11. You know… the ruffly edge looked nice, too! And while that’s true, I fully support the tear out and redo as you have to have it just the way you want it – it’s quite beautiful! I also love the name of the pattern because Zuzu is the name of my darling cocker spaniel.

  12. I’m currently finishing a lovely grey cardigan (“Georgetown”) that is like a huge grey cat (and I already have one of those, so I know) sprawled on my lap. It remains to be seen whether I will actually be able to try it on INSIDE the house, let alone outside in our 100-ish degree weather forecast for the next few days.
    Lovely shawl – it will look very nice on you… later.

  13. Flat, it looks lovely. You want to try it on? Go to the movies, especially at your nearest mall multiplex. You’ll need the shawl there — most of those places are as cold as the supermarket’s frozen food case. (Joe, take the hint and take her! She might knit you something….)

  14. This raises the question as to whether plain old dumb old humidity, of the meteorological stripe, is a legitimate type of blocking.

  15. Taking one for the team and even attempting a photo in that weather wins you a gold medal! Can definitely wait to see it since I don’t want summer to end too quickly. 🙂

  16. Beautiful combination of yarn and pattern. By the way I’m still trying to reach you to ask if you’ll come back to Albuquerque NM to teach/talk or whatever you’d like. This is a legit request, not spam. Would you please email me at We’d love to host you here, thanks!

  17. Oh it looks great! Although I can see why you would want to use as much of that lovely gradient as possible. About 120% humidity here in northern NY too (we’re downwind of you, and north, I might add). You didn’t try to ride today did you? That would be killer (not in the 90s sense of cool)

  18. Indoor photoshoot at your local air-conditioned, what? Mall? (not very ‘you’) Coffee shop? (better, but poor lighting…) How about grocery store–usually lit to surgical suite levels, and you could take the pics in front of the coffee display?!? =) (Or flower shop, or produce–this could be fun!) There are only a feeewwww weeks of the year when Canadians in spots prone to humidity crave our AC’s, but this is getting to be that season…

  19. Beautiful– and hilarious! The mental image of you grappling with that gorgeous alpaca beast has me giggling in my own sweaty Boston apartment where I simply can’t bring myself to finish spinning that silk I’ve got on the spindle…

      • Canada has so much weather! Here in Ottawa, because we’re in a valley, we get what’s called a heat inversion. Stifling hot air, often with more than 100% humidity (yes, it is possible to have greater than 100% humidity in the air and for it NOT to be raining…very steam-room like), gets trapped under a higher layer of cooler air – the cooler layer acts like a lid. So areas all around us can have the joy of cooler temps and !gasp! breezes, while we’re slogging around as a city of hot messes.

        Of course, in February, there are times when the temperature on Mars is higher than ours.

        One of the few climates where you need a good furnace and a humidifier in the winter, and central a/c and a dehumidifier in summer. Also heated seats and side mirrors in your car, along with a/c.

        I love this place.

  20. Gorgeous! Had to touch the house to post–very appropriate which is where I am ‘cuz it was 107 here in Tucson today.

  21. I love that you risked heatstroke in order to model your knitwear. Priorities! (That said, I’m glad you saw sense and took it off quickly.)

  22. What a beautiful shawl. January will be the perfect time to model it! I had no idea that Toronto got that hot! Plus humid sounds like a nightmare! I will remind myself of that today when it hits 33 and is humid here in NC.

  23. Wonderful shawl! I’m not a spinner, so can only imagine the great feeling of completing something from one’s own hand-spun yarn.

    What is your regular shawl bind-off? You wrote about ripping out the really stretchy bind-off and finishing with your regular one, so you’ve made me curious.

  24. Beautiful, but I don’t think it will wait until January… it’s one more weapon in your arsenal for the furnace wars in about 5 months….

  25. Beautiful work Stephanie! 🙂

    My only suggestion is get a dehumidifier, if you don’t have one already. I have one in my basement, and it runs all summer, it saves on cooling costs and it makes the house much more comfortable to live in during this gross humid weather. Other bonus – when blocking knitwear, you can hang/block it indoors where it’s much drier, therefore blocks faster!

    (And all the water you collect in your dehumidifier can be used to water your plants or garden!)

  26. It is absolutely beautiful! Having experienced a Toronto summer a few years back, I can completely imagine the heat and humidity and the feeling of alpaca wool on all of that business. Makes me appreciate the dry prairies – even when I’m putting on hand cream 12 times a day. All year long.
    The comments on this post are brilliant!

    • I live on the (very humid) southern East Coast. We visited Colorado one summer, and had to slather on moisturizer, lip balm and the like. The whole time, the natives are apologizing for the “high” humidity…it was 25%! LOL

  27. What a delicious shawl! I’m spinning some alpaca right now and looking forward to knitting it up. Gotta be ready for when the snow flies.

  28. I know! Llamas DO live in the mountains! And I am going on vacation TO the mountains! The weather app on my phone tells me Estes Park is having nighttime temps of 79 to 83 degrees. [F not C] I have been going home at the end of 11 to 12 hour days, to temps of 78 inside my house -with a/c on- and checking. Packing jeans and t shirts and sweaters for my vacation. And mentally trying to delete the long work week I have to do next week! But we are almost there! It will happen!

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