I've been thinking about the properties of alpaca. It's all inspired by a small hank of worsted alpaca that I bought at Taos for a hat. It's beautiful yarn, almost like a rope at first but melting into a lush, heavy fabric when knitted up.
One of the reasons I love alpaca is that it's no one-trick pony. Spun into laceweight yarn, this hollow fiber can create an etherally light and lofty fabric. Spun into a worsted yarn, it becomes nearly the opposite - dense, drapey - because it doesn't have wool's crimp and spring to hold it up.
The more I think about it, the more I'm reminded of snow: a fresh, dry snow can be so beautifully lofty, but as the snow piles up, it gets compressed into dense drifts. And in keeping with my theme of exploring textures in nature, I've tried to capture this feeling in the hat. I've played around with all kinds of stitch patterns from embossed snowflakes to eyelets to cables of every variety, finally settling on a dense, all-over cable pattern that evokes snowdrifts:
Note: the flare at the bottom just comes from the angle, not the hat shaping! This next one shows the shape better (really, it's just a loose-fitting cap with a bit of ribbing at the bottom), but doesn't quite give you the sense of how luscious and soft the fabric is:
Anyways, I'm afraid I have to reconcile myself to that fact that I don't have enough yarn to finish (those cables really gobble up yarn) and have no way to obtain more. *sigh* So I'm left trying to decide whether to frog it and knit a non-cabled hat on bigger needles, which would probably stretch the yardage enough for me, or whether to add ribbing at the top and wear it as an earwarmer.
In either case, it's clear that I've lost touch with reality, since (hello!) I moved to Arizona and don't need dense, cabled, alpaca headwarmers anymore. It's just that sometimes the yarn talks to you, and you have to listen...