The folks at the Spinnery cooperative are excited to share with our friends a bit about the farmers we work with. This post was completed and released before we heard of Jim King’s unexpected death last week. Our deepest sympathies go to Sue and all of Jim’s family, friends and colleagues in the fiber world.
Creating yarns using fibers grown by local farms has been an important part of the Spinnery’s work since its founding. Alpaca Elegance, a blend of 50% New England grown alpaca and 50% fine American wool, has been part of our yarn line since 1996! The first colors we offered were derived from the tones of the naturally colorful fleeces of alpacas that range from white to black with warm browns and silvery gray as well. One of our most consistent suppliers of alpaca fleeces has been Sue and Jim King of Skyeview Alpacas in Elkins, New Hampshire.
Skyeview Alpacas is a 40-acre farm located in central New Hampshire, an area prized for its beautiful lakes, forests and mountains. It was the first alpaca farm started in New Hampshire, established in 1992 with the purchase of three alpacas. Sue had developed a love for fiber arts, especially hand spinning, and had raised angora rabbits for a few years before meeting her first alpacas in the late 1980’s.
Jim and Sue are serious livestock farmers, but admit the alpacas are “extremely appealing” animals. People tend to fall in love with them as well as their warm soft fiber. Over the years their herd has expanded in diversity and quality and has grown to 130 animals including 26 rare suri aplacas whose fleece is prized for its length and silky sheen. The Kings continue to breed and show their alpacas and supply breeding stock to other farms but also focus on alpacas as fiber animals. The number of alpacas in the United States is still small compared to the numbers in South America. Alpaca yarns have become more prevalent in the marketplace as knitters have learned about the unique qualities of the fiber. Mills that can use and promote American alpaca fiber are important to the future of alpaca farms in New England and around the country.
According to the Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association, alpacas were a cherished treasure of the ancient Incan civilization and played a central role in the Incan cultures of the Andean Plateau and mountains of South America.
Alpaca fleece, once reserved for Incan royalty and still treasured in the Andes, is lighter and stronger than wool and comes in 22 natural colors, more than any other animal fiber. Alpacas were first imported to the United States in 1984. They have grown in popularity due to their calm nature, small size, economical grazing habits and their beautiful fiber, and they are just plain cute!
Each 2ounce (58 gram) skein of Alpaca Elegance has approximately 180 yards (165 meters) of 2-ply DK weight yarn.
Knitted fabrics created with alpaca yarns are warm and resilient, perfect for sweaters and shawls as well as cozy hats, mitts and socks. Our six natural colors of Alpaca Elegance, Cream, Chai, Cappuccino, Earl Grey, Cocoa and Dark Roast are spun using our chemical and petroleum free GREENSPUN method. Our six heathered colors, Dragonwell, Sencha, Blue Lotus, Ceylon, Hibiscus and Rosehip are “composed” by blending natural colored fawn, black or grey alpaca with dyed fine American wool.
We love to see your creations with our yarns – please share them with other Facebook fans or join our Ravelry group! There is a giveaway for our Ravelry friends for two skeins of Alpaca Elegance yarn and a pattern- entries are welcome until April 18! Fiber friends are sharing their color choices and there are even more cute photos of alpacas!