How many alpacas does it take to make you think a farm is big? Before last weekend I would have said 100. Not so now.
This past Sunday I went to a carding seminar at Magical Farms in Ohio. Have you ever heard of them? Do you know how many alpacas they have? They have....can you believe it.....over 1600 alpacas!!
There are alpacas as far as the eye can see. No matter which way you turn there are alpacas in field after field. It was alpaca overload.
The whole reason we were there was to attend a carding seminar. For those of you none fiber people...carding in its most simplistic explanation is straightening out the fibers/hairs to make it easier to spin into yarn.
This seminar was being taught by a woman named Roo. Roo is one of those people that I friended on facebook more than a year ago when I was just friending every fiber arts person I could (please don't take offense Roo!). I wanted a FB community of alpaca owners and fiber artists so I could socialize and learn.
I quickly learned to really pay attention to Roo. She knows her stuff and seems to have a thriving fiber business underway. I loved everything she did and felt like when I "grow up" I want to be just like her! (I imagine she's blushing right about now).
Meeting her in person was a dream come true because I never thought it'd happen. She lives down south and I'm here in Michigan, but for one great weekend we were able to meet in Ohio. I was really excited to get there and found her to be really genuine and down to earth. She is self taught (like me!) and really wants to share what she can do so others can succeed. Not to mention her fiber goodies are more gorgeous in person!
I've been using a drum carder at home for a year or so now, but I was never really happy with the batts I got off of it which is why I signed up for this seminar in the first place. Roo did not disappoint. It wasn't long and I was making batts that I could be proud of. I also learned several tips that should make my carding at home much better.
After learning some basic techniques we got to go play with add-in, glittery goodies. Did you know there were so many yummy options to add into alpaca? I've played with bamboo before, but we also used silk (heaven!!), milk fiber, sari silk, angelina and honestly I can't remember them all. I loved making these blended batts!
The true highlight of the day though came at the very, very end. Have you heard of a hackle? It's this crazy, wickedly painful looking pointy contraption that is just another way to straighten the fibers. You can put the fibers on and then pull them off into a long rope (called a roving) instead of a large batt like the carder. It was love at first sight!! I had to have one!
I brought my hackle home and I've been pulling off rovings ever since. Rovings from a mill are always nice and smooth and well blended. Hand pulled rovings off the hackle are less smooth, less blended and oh so lovely. I can not wait to see the yarn that comes from these.
All in all it was an awesome day. Did I tell you I had to get up at 4am to get there? Even with that it was great. I feel like Spongebob. It was the "Best Day Ever!!"
I now have a very long wishlist of fiber things I want to buy to make more really cool batts. I also can't wait for the next fiber seminar at Magical. I will be there!