When I began wet felting, merino was the only wool that I had had experience with, and I wanted to try new fibres. I knew that there happened to be a working alpaca farm not far from were I live so I decided to pay it a visit after a phone call to check they take visitors. I met a lovely lady called Dawn from Knavesmire Alpacas in Haxby, North Yorkshire UK who is passionate about her alpacas and I thought Dawn and her family would be a nice blog to share with you all.
Dawn has 38 alpacas, 8 Suris and 30 Huacaya alpacas, comprising 4 boys and 34 girls. The British Alpaca Society (BAS) have 22 recognised shades from white, grey, browns, fawn and black.
Alpacas usually only have one cria (baby), if there are twins they rarely survive. The gestation is approx. 11.5 months. They self ovulate, so only come into season when being mated, so they can have cria anytime, so males and females are kept separate to ensure no winter babies. Dawn has one hermaphrodite, which is really rare.
They are fantastic mums and guards, keeping everyone safe from foxes. Dawn has always loved them and started with five for her 50th birthday.
Now onto the fibre bit!
Dawn spins, wet and needle felts, both with 100% alpaca and also blending it with other fibres. There are three cuts of fibre. The first cut is from the saddle area, usually spun as it is ideal to wear next to the skin (less or hardly any guard hair which gives it the itch factor). The second cut is the better fibre from the neck and top of the legs, sometimes suitable for spinning and ideal for needle felting. The third cut is the short fibres from the bottom of the legs and the second trace of the shears, only really suitable for stuffing.
Huacaya is the teddy bear of the alpaca world, the Suri have the long silky dreadlocks. There are only 10% of Suri alpaca compared with Huacaya, so it tends to be more expensive to buy (both animals and fibre).
Pics of fleece, yummy batts, hand dyed Suri locks and spun wool
Dawn made this shawl using baby alpaca locks on a fine merino and alpaca base.
Needle felted family and wet and needle felted impressive hat!
Animal heads, a rug and soaps – Love the rug Dawn!
Dawn also makes and sells these cute booties.
I think it is safe to say Dawn is kept busy!
She uses olive oil soap to wet felt the fibre, and Ecover for washing it because it is gentle and does not contain Lanolin. Huacaya are sheared every year, Suris once every two years. She said the fleece does not need too much washing, however the alpacas do love their dirt baths and rolling around on the floor! She says they are wonderful to keep, relatively easy and usually give birth easily too, and I know she loves them all!
My thanks to Dawn for agreeing to provide me with all the information and lovely photos.
If you would like to find out more or contact Dawn here are the links.
Last but not least, I thought I would pop in a picture of one of Dawn’s this year’s first arrivals, Gary the Pygmy goat, how cute is he?!