Shearing Day

A couple months ago I was able to attend an Alpaca shearing.  I have been to one before, when I was much younger and working on the Alpaca farm in Texas. The shearer at this one was excellent, I loved being able to watch the way with each stroke of the shears the Alpaca fiber would fall off the back of each alpaca. Creating such a beautiful perfect Blanket fleece, with virtually no second cuts. He did a great job creating a wonderful fleece for me to send off to the mill. One of the things I really love about alpacas (this is probably true about many fiber animals) is that their yearly shearing allows you to give them most of their shots and trim their toes and teeth all at once!

At this shearing there was many helpers so I mostly was just able to observe. First, two big strong guys stand on one side of the alpaca and flip it onto its side, then stretch it out by its legs with some ropes. Alpacas are naturally skittish animals and stretching them out like this immobilizes them in the best possible way and keeps the animal and shearers safe. They start by shearing half the blanket, which is the fiber from the top of the shoulder to the hip.  They then shear all the seconds and thirds on the same side, which is the legs and neck. After shearing one side of the Alpaca they simply flip the alpaca over to the other side and do the same process.  While all of this is going on other people are able to run around and clip the toenails and give any necessary shots.  The whole process is very efficient, and I love that around the rest of the year Alpacas are pretty easy to take care of.  Aside from a few extra shots and depending on the Alpaca maybe another toenail clipping. Pretty easy maintenance.

The day was a wonderful experience, and I came home with some lovely black and white fleeces. I went up this weekend and finally picked up my Grey fleeces I had reserved from another farm, they are beautiful! I am really excited because I have finally decided on a mill, I am going to use Zellinger Wool Co.  I do wish I was able to use a more local mill, but Zellinger’s has very affordable prices per pound and also a great turn-around time, both factors are very important to my growing little business. And also being in the middle of a move across the country this make shipping a whole lot easier. Although this does lead me to another slightly off topic but very important point. I really feel in the United States we could use a lot more mills. Me and my husband may get into this later in life, but when the average turnaround time for return of fiber is 6 months, I believe there’s definitely room for growth. I am excited to see growth and revival happening within the fiber community, and it will be great to see how it will change in the years to come. Nevertheless I will let you all know how my experience with Zellinger’s goes and how the finished product comes back. 

            I have been working with two Alpaca farms and I have been loving both of them, they have great animals with wonderful quality fleeces and colors. It was a real joy to get to see the fleeces I will be using being sheared. And I can’t wait to be surrounded in piles and piles of wonderful Alpaca roving!  

Creating "Your Daily Dose of Fiber"

   I have to admit i never thought i would be much of a blogger, but after deciding to start my small yarn business.  I thought it might be a good idea to write a little as i go.  That way even if nobody reads i will have a record to look back on.  And if someone out there wants to follow along my journey, of turning my passion into my full time job well please enjoy!  

    so lets go back to the beginning... when i was in 4th grade, my mom decided it would be a good life experience to take me and my brother on a mission trip, we ended up going to Peru,  and we worked giving people glasses in a small town on the alti plano called Puno.  We also did the some work with the people of  the floating reed islands on lake titicaca.  It was a wonderful trip, and i fell in love with the beautiful people of Peru, the land they live in high up in the Andes and  of course the alpacas that inhabit it alongside them.   I came back to america with a great love for Peru that led me to return there several more times.  As well as a love for the alpaca that a few years later, when i decided i wanted a job, led me to search for a job on an alpaca farm.  It was a love and connection to Peru that i could pursue here in America.  I was living in Texas at the time, so i searched.  And i found the cutest little farm it was called "Yellow Rose Fiber Farm" it was owned by two of the loveliest and remarkable people i have known.  They used to be Wycliffe bible translators, and had wonderful stories to tell of their adventures in many countries. They were now retired and Nancy the wife had fallen in love with alpacas as so many do.  They agreed to hire me, i think more because they appreciated my love of alpacas and determination to work, as well as my story rather than they actually needed someone, but never the less i was thrilled.  I learned so much about alpacas as well as angora goats which they also raised, and this was my first introduction to the world of fiber arts.  Nancy taught me how to needle felt, and she taught me to knit.  This was a revelation to me as my mom only knew crochet and that is all i had tried.  I MUCH preferred knitting.  So this was the start, of that down hill slope that so many fiber artists have slid, its a wonderful ride down the rabbit hole to wonderland though.  I moved away from Texas to Ohio and fiber arts was moved to the back burner i was still fairly young and so interests came and went as they do.  I graduated high school and went to a year of college. Then a whole other thread of my life came into play and i met, well reconnected with my husband and we fell madly in love and decided to get married after a year... but that's a story for another time or another blog... anyway in the first few months of our marriage i was having a hard time finding a job and so i had a lot of extra time on my hands.  I remembered that i knew how to knit and so i went and bought some needles and yarn and jumped right back in. Very excited with the memories and passion i had for this art flooding back into my life... and back down the rabbit hole i went... Soon i was wishing i had all my old fiber stuff that was back in Ohio, so my mom came to visit at Christmas time and she brought it all back to me. Even that first bit of knitting i ever did and was still unfinished (never ending garter stitch... blech) i just completed that a few months ago.  I also remembered i had bought a drop spindle a long time ago and being young just never really tried it.  Well this time i was excited at the prospect of creating my own yarn. And so i did.  

    I worked on my drop spindle and then a spinning wheel was given to me, and i worked on that i absolutely fell in love with spinning and all that leads to with learning about fiber.  I discovered lots of wonderful podcasts such as Woolful by Ashley Yousling,  Knit.fm by Hannah Fettig and Pam Allen and the Have Company Podcast by Marlee Grace.  And i just kept hearing amazing stories about how people were creating businesses and taking that leap so that they could do what they love and are passionate about every day. It was something i longed for, something i spent my hours at my day job dreaming and plotting as to how i could maybe someday, somehow turn my spinning, my love, my passion into something i could do every day for my living. 

    So now i am taking that leap. with the help of my wonderful husband and his incredible mathematical and analytical brain. he is helping me navigate the legal and business stuff, all those scary things my artistic brain was petrified to get working on.  He has helped me figure out the numbers to make the business work, and we are creating websites and social media pages, i'm creating labels and logos and my dream is just on the brink of becoming a reality.  And as i sit here typing through my bronchitis that i caught from my day job i am so excited to see this possibility take shape. It really does just take one jump... One moment where you just say "okay lets do this"... and maybe if you need it a helpful person to push you on your way, and create your dream into reality.

   thanks for reading more words and yarns to come.

-Emily