Thursday, May 3, 2012

lost in the fiber

Early in our alpaca farming adventure I began working with alpaca fiber.    At first I thought I would knit product but wasn't sure about spinning yarn.  The first alpacas arrived at our farm in November of 2007, by December of 2008 I was spinning yarn :)

Even before I got into spinning yarn, from the first time we looked at alpacas, I was very conscious of the end product - their fiber.   I was so disappointed when we would go on a farm visit and they didn't have any yarn or product.  I couldn't imagine how they would have nothing alpaca to show us.  I know the animals are great, but so it their product.   I realize not everyone is crafty.  Many alpaca farmers aren't going to spin yarn and/or knit.  And that is ok.  But please, do something with your alpaca fiber - such as joining a co-op and having product made from your fiber.  There are options even if you aren't into doing it yourself.

Now when I see an alpaca's fiber, I think about what it would feel like to spin their fiber into yarn.  I see those bundles and feel the fiber's handle.   This has been an instrumental force in the focus of our farm's breeding program.  While J knows more about fiber stats and breeding options, we both know the end product is the most important.  If you can produce fiber that feels good, it will make great product.

This was a big part of how we decided on our tag line ~  Breeding Brightness You Can Feel

If it doesn't feel good, what's the point?

But I think we get so wrapped up in the fiber, that sometimes we lose the other part of the picture.  This spring we had a bit of a wake up call that while the fiber on the animal might be incredible, it's not the whole picture.  Our own Thunder, who we thought could do so well in alpaca shows, has not showed as well as we had hoped.   But it's not his fiber holding him back.  In fact, the judge called his fiber "lovely".   The negative was that his front legs are a bit too close together, his chest is not wide enough to show good capacity.  This could be an awkward growth stage and he may outgrow it.  All this time we were so focused on his fiber that we glossed over really taking a look at how he walked and what his legs look like.  

I don't think being lost in the fiber is totally a bad thing.  Like I have thought all along, the end product, the fiber, is very important. 

But we need the whole package.  We have added some different alpacas to our herd this year to get us to that next level.  At the same time improvements in fiber happen daily, and we are doing what we can to stay on top of that too.

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