Our meadow to market journey starts in May when we shear our alpacas and sheep. The few days after shearing are spent sorting through the fleeces, taking out any rougher bits and getting rid of as much debris as we can.
I love this job as it allows me to get a really good look at how the fleeces have changed since last year. We can make decisions about whether we send any to shows, which ones will be processed together, and what weight of yarn they will be suitable for. It also helps us to see whether we are getting nutrition right.
The best fibre from each of the fleeces will be sent for processing into beautiful yarn. We send our alpaca fibre to East Anglia Alpaca Mill near Norwich. The Shetland fleeces are sent to the Natural Fibre Company in Cornwall. We choose to keep the natural colours of our fleeces.
The fibre that doesn’t quite make the grade for yarn is kept here and used to felt soaps, stuff toys or become part of fibre art projects. Even the scraps can be given to the birds for their nests, so nothing is wasted.
We sell our yarn at Wyken Vineyard Farmers’ Market, Bury St Edmunds Makers Market and also in our online shop. But we also keep some back to make crochet and woven accessories. The huacaya alpacas make beautiful DK yarn for my crochet projects and Neel uses the finer 2ply suri alpaca yarn to weave scarves and shawls. Our first batch of Shetland fleeces were made into a beautiful grey aran yarn. In the second year we created a soft grey 4ply yarn and also a laceweight Shetland yarn.