A Day at the Alpaca Farm

I have known for a while that alpaca, as a fiber, is amazing - it is one of my favorite fibers to weave with. It is instantly soft and warm and everything that "sweater weather" should be.


At the Great Smoky Mountains Fiber Fair, we met a couple of different alpaca farmers and learned that the animal behind the fiber is just as amazing! Our curiosity was piqued...


Alpaca
Shadow the Alpaca

One couple we met were Claire and Dino of Golden View Alpacas and Mini Mill, who had brought their peg looms to the fiber faire as well as various alpaca products. A few weeks later, we got the chance to visit their farm in person and meet some Alpacas up close!

Group of male alpacas
3 male alpacas at Golden View

Unsheared Alpaca
Unsheared alpaca

Male alpaca
This alpaca is ready for summer!

After aweing at the alpacas, it was time to see the mill. The first step is shearing the alpacas, which Claire and Dino do themselves! Then the fiber goes into a tumbler that removes any dirt, dust, chaff, etc. from the fleece.

Tumbler
Tumbler

Next, the fiber goes into a big kettle-type washing system where it is gently washed, but not agitated too much, because then the fiber would start to felt.


After the fiber had dried out, it goes through the carder. This machine combs all of the random fibers and gets everything going the same direction. The fiber can be output as roving, which can then be spun into yarn!

Carder
Belfast Mini Mill Carder

Lastly, we ended up in the "project room" or -- as I like to think of it -- #goals . Here, Claire and Dino shared past, present, and future fiber projects with us. They taught us all the ins-and-outs (pun not intended) of weaving with a peg loom and discussed different types of fibers and projects.

Woven rug on peg loom
Claire's current WIP on the peg loom and a finished rug.

Claire and Dino exemplify everything I love about the fiber community - they are welcoming, patient in answering questions, and instructive. I am humbled by their ingenuity and know-how and inspired by their creativity.


We are so thankful to them for sharing their Alpacas, mini-mill, and studio with us!


You can read more about their alpacas and mill here: https://www.facebook.com/Golden-View-Alpacas-Mini-Mill-776098332519504/

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