An Alpaca Yarn
Kaalund Yarns is a family owned business with designers Jean, Jodie and Kirsty Inglis bringing their passion, knowledge and skill to the beautiful alpaca yarn. Jodie takes us on a journey from the farm to the yarn.
Alpaca fleece is often described as one of the most luxurious fibres on the planet. It’s soft and warm and has an overall sheen available in over 20 natural colours.
As the alpacas slowly make their way down the hill at our farm, the cool breeze catches under their fleece playfully moving the long strands around. Winter is almost here in Queensland and soon after we can look forward to the spring shearing of our alpacas and the wonderful yarn that will follow.
There are two types of alpacas. One is the huacaya. These animals look like large teddy bears with fleece resembling that of sheep. Another is the suri with long luscious dreadlocked fleece that, in the warm sunshine, becomes iridescent and gives the appearance of silk.
Alpacas are very intelligent and each animal has its own personality. The younger animals are quite inquisitive and mischievous. No grape vine, rose bush or olive tree is safe from an alpaca. Their long necks stretch incredible distances when such delights are around.
With the weather now cooling and the ground drying out from the summer heavy rains, the alpacas have a chance to spend long hours sun baking, munching away at the grass or enjoying tasty mouthfuls of hay. Is it any surprise these alpacas wear contented smiles on their faces when their days consist of grazing, dozing, and socialising? Oh they work as well. They have the odd moment of house cleaning which entails scraping dry hay together to form a soft bed and pillow.
It is generally not known how affectionate alpacas can be towards their human owners. Some of our herd love being handfed slices of carrot and others tuck their head under our arms, simply for a cuddle.
The alpaca’s fleece will continue to grow and become more dense until shearing begins in early October. Fleece is sorted according to type (huacaya or suri), colour and fleece area (legs, body or neck). They are picked over by hand to remove vegetable matter and are then ready to be sent away for bulk processing.
When designing the yarn that will be spun from the alpaca fleece it is essential to consider the end purpose. Suri fleece produces yarn which is excellent for weaving, whereas huacaya is more conducive for knitting and crocheting.
We also keep fleece from each clip aside for us to hand spin unique alpaca yarn. Alpaca fleece can be dyed either during the spinning process, or at the end when the fleece has been spun into yarn.
So next time you are out buying yarn and see Australian alpaca please remember that each ball of yarn has a very colourful story behind it and has been created by a very special animal.
You can find Alpaca yarn and other yarns at many of the craft events around Australia and New Zealand.
If you are interested in owning alpacas, please contact your local branch of the Australian Alpaca Association for advice.