I am delighted to tell you of the most wondrous place I had the privilege of visiting this week. I know how much you love anything to do with yarn and crocheting, so I was excited about the opportunity to meet with the owners of Pearl Moon Alpacas in New Windsor, Maryland.
It was quite an enlightening visit! Did you know an alpaca is a camel? And they are SO cute! And gentle, too. If you put your face near theirs, they might just give you a kiss!
The entire herd gets sheared once a year, just as the weather is starting to warm, to help keep them cool in the heat. These ladies have already been shorn for the summer.
While Pearl Moon Alpacas' primary business is fiber production, they also breed alpacas. This is a mother-daughter pair.
The farm has won many awards, for both their alpacas and the fiber they produce.
After the fiber is shorn, it must be cleaned and prepped before it can be sold. This combing machine helps with the cleaning process.
The fiber then goes through the carding machine, after which the fiber can be sold for spinning or felting.
Mary Wilson, one of the owners, often hand-dyes the fibers into brilliant colors at this stage.
And while she sends most of the fiber out for spinning, Mary does do her own share of spinning as well.
The coarser fibers from the legs of the alpacas gets spun into rug yarn.
Isn't it gorgeous? And it's warm, too--six times warmer than wool, in fact! And it's more hypoallergenic than wool, as it does not contain lanolin, which is the waxy substance on wool that often causes allergies in people.
Now I know you are wondering, and yes, Mary does crochet, but her real talent is in felting. She makes gorgeous scarves of alpaca felted on silk. I didn't even know you could felt on silk! She said the technique is called nuno felting, and best of all, she teaches the technique!
If you are ever in Maryland, please do stop by and visit Pearl Moon Alpacas. The owners are very hospital and will be only too happy to show you around. You might even have a chance to learn a new skill! And of course, there is plenty of alpaca fiber and yarn for sale. I bought two hanks myself to bring home for The Animator's Wife.
All the Best,
For more information about Pearl Moon Alpacas, please visit www.pearlmoonalpacas.com.