This is our first guest blog. Allurynn and her husband, Doug, own Moonsong Ranch Alpacas and sell their fiber art and fashions at their Etsy shop. Allurynn was kind enough to tell us about her alpacas.
Recently I came across this YouTube video circulating around about a Guy from Peru who taught his Alpaca Pisco to surf… here’s the link if you want to check it out for yourself. While I never considered teaching our Alpacas such a risky task… we do create beautiful products with their fiber.
Hi I’m Allurynn and Rachel asked that I share what Doug (my husband) and I do with our Alpaca fiber. Before I start here’s a little history about us. Doug and I started our Alpaca Ranch 5 years ago, after we were considering our future after retirement. On a whim one day after seeing an ad about Alpacas, I asked him “what do you think about owning an Alpaca Business”? He chuckled and said… “I’ve been researching it for the past few weeks”! LOL… it’s very common for us to be on the same “wave length” about things, so it didn’t surprise me.
It’s taken us a few years to build the herd, starting out with just one pregnant Alpaca and a Llama companion on our 1 acre mountain community home. Before long we were up to 11 Alpacas and 2 Llamas and of course living out in the country on a 3 acre Ranch, which we named Moonsong Ranch Alpacas.
Once a year in late spring our animals all get sheared. Though it’s not a painful process, for some by the way they complain the whole time, one would think it was! Or maybe it’s their pride that gets hurt, cos’ they sure do look odd once it’s over!
Once the fiber is shorn from the animal, we have to prepare it for processing. This is the boring part of working with the fiber. This process is called skirting, the action is called tedious, LOL…we sit down under our Canopy, with our glasses of ice water and meticulously pull out each piece of debris from the fiber that is less than 1 inch long.
This is what we are up against! Of course, not all our animals roll in the hay all winter long.
Their fiber is characterized as firsts, seconds and thirds… the firsts are called the prime fleece which comes from the trunk of the Alpaca, its blanket. The seconds are the neck and the thirds are whatever is left. We send our blankets to our chosen Fiber Mill to have it processed into yarn and fiber bats, which are later used for finer felting products, like things that go on your body. This prime fleece is the softest and most luxurious. Our seconds or the neck fiber is the fiber we card ourselves using a hand-driven device which creates a smooth uniform layer of fiber, we use this quality of fiber for felting items such as purses, belts, western hats etc., as well as dying and needle felting.
There are a number of benefits to Alpaca fiber. It’s hypoallergenic… it does not contain lanolin which causes the itchiness commonly felt in wool products; it is 5x warmer than sheep wool and more luxurious than cashmere. It is very appealing as a medium for creating wearable art/fashion. If you visit our product website, http://www.MoonsongRanch.com , you will find a variety of fiber fashion items such as knitted fingerless gloves, scarves and shawls, as well as felted hats, scarves, purses and cozies.
Although Doug and I have just recently started creating products from our fleeces, it continues to be a wonderful journey since we both enjoy being around our animals, as well as allowing our creative expression to lead us towards the development of new and innovative product lines from our earth-friendly Alpaca friends.
If you are interested in learning more about Alpacas and how they can impact your lifestyle, please visit: http://www.alpacanation.com/MoonsongRanch.asp.