Making Snuggly Toes
The first step of Snuggly Toes is the alpacas growing the fiber, obviously. Without alpaca fiber, there would be no Snuggly Toes.
After it's sheared, Meredith cleans it by picking out the big pieces of hay. Then the real processing begins. It's all sent to a mill at Autumn Mist Alpacas, a small alpaca farm in New York.
What I get back is bunches and bunches of yarn wrapped on to cones. Here they are with a few of the animals from Springtime Farms.
Snuggly Toes start out as a knitted blanket. I used to crochet these by hand, but that's impractical for a real business. Luckily Westcliffe, CO is full of really interesting people, including a woman who owns many knitting machines. Eventually I bought one of hers.
To get the machine going, you have to manually weave the yarn through the needles.
After the yarn is set upon the machine, I slide the handle on top back and forth. The bottom of the handle has "flippers" that move the knitting needles out and back, allowing the yarn to knit. It's very hard to describe, but a simple swish of the handle and a blanket starts appearing. When a bit of the blanket is showing, I hang weights on it, like in the middle picture. The weights keeps the blanket in the right place as I knit more and more. In the picture on the right you can see the blanket hanging down.
Each blanket is felted three times, so those fibers are really stuck together. The entire process makes Snuggly Toes incredibly durable.
When the blanket is completely felted, it's time to cut out Snuggly Toes. This process is like cutting out any other pattern. Pin it to the fabric and cut. Each pair is cut by hand.