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Posts Tagged ‘crochet’

Gray skies, cooler temperatures, brisk winds … it is the season for alpaca. Time to pull out the socks, scarves, head bands and hats made from the soft, wonderful wool that keeps me warm and makes it bearable to work outside in the winter. Living on a ranch and working with livestock means I am outside every day. I often joke that the only one cold in the barn during the winter is the shepherd. The alpacas are clothed in warm fiber and hardly notice.

This is also the time of year I can share my joy of alpaca with hundreds of other people who may not have either heard of alpaca or felt this luxurious wool. During the year I spend time crocheting scarves, head bands and hats to be sold at craft fairs in surrounding communities. Packing those items, as well as yarn from our alpacas, I head off to peddle my wares. I love letting people experience this unique wool.

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I always display the scarves so they are at a convenient place to be touched. Alpaca loves to be touched. People will reach out and feel the scarf then turn and say, “I had no idea it was so soft”. I will see them turn to the person they are with and say, “You have to feel this!” These comments always make me smile because I know how wonderful alpaca feels. I then get to share so many of the other qualities it has:

  • soft as cashmere but more durable
  • no lanolin so it does not attract dust or dander
  • lighter weight than wool yet warmer by weight
  • water repellent and flame retardant

My wool is all natural, there are over 22 different color alpacas. Colors range from white to black and everything in between. I breed for grey and my yarn display has multiple shades of grey. I let my visitors know that if they can knit or crochet they can choose their yarn and make something themselves. For those who cannot there are always my items available for them.

If you are out and about this season of the year, stop by a craft show and enjoy the handmade items of the talented people living all around you. You may be surprised what you will find.

OIW2015 (4)

Visit our Etsy shop … http://www.etsy.com/shop/MissouriAlpacas

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I attended my first fiber show of the 2012 season. Before I started raising alpacas, I didn’t realize how much fiber is produced in the United States. Quite a bit of it comes from small farms. Attending the show were owners of sheep, goats, rabbits, llamas and alpacas. The sheep market alone has many varieties. Owners come to fairs all across the nation to display and sell their wool. It can be bought in raw form, (right from shearing) roving (carded and ready to spin) or yarn. It can be natural or dyed. There is no limit to the colors and choices.

In this environment you will discover crafts and arts, that some may think have passed away, but are very much alive. Spinners are in abundance; using both the drop spindle and the spinning wheel. Tatting, lace making, embroidery, weaving, knitting and crocheting are all still perpetuated by those who love the craft and love creating beautiful pieces of art from scratch. The crafters cover many generations with ages in the single digit to those in their nineties. There are no age, gender or color barriers with this group.

Alpaca fiber is called “the fiber of the gods”. It is told that the harvested alpaca fiber of the finest quality could only be worn by the Incan royalty. Alpaca is stronger than mohair, finer than cashmere, smoother than silk, softer than cotton. It has the ability to provide great warmth without the weight of wool. It has no lanolin which helps it to stay clean and provides and alternative for those who are allergic to wool. Over 22 natural colors are created by the alpacas, and because it is a natural fiber, it can also be dyed.

Natural Colors

I have the pleasure of raising a herd of alpacas, and each year we harvest this wonderful fiber. I send most of our fiber to a mini-mill in Kansas for processing. I like using the mill because I get my own fiber back. Part of our fiber is made into yarns and part into roving. I try to get an assortment of both for my customers and of course myself. Quality is always my priority. I want the person who uses my alpaca fiber to be pleased and return for more.

Missouri Alpaca Herd

At the fiber fair I bring in my selections to compliment all the other fiber being shown and sold. I usually take my spinning wheel or crochet to work with while I am there. I love, not only meeting other fiber artists, but learning new things from them. What a wealth of knowledge is out there. I get to talk with so many interesting people. I am pleasantly surprised when I find someone who spins or knits, though they don’t look the part. I met a man knitting socks once. I shouldn’t pre-judge but I just didn’t expect it.

So, the next time you wrap up in your favorite shawl or scarf, put on that special hat, or pull out your afghan or lap throw, consider the hands that may create it. Nestled away in your city, town and neighborhood are extraordinary people, living a simpler life in an over technological world. I am so thankful for them and their skills and to be a part of this community. May they continue to pass on their art and our heritage.

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