This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
perspective, alpaca yarn is lovely to work with. It flows through your fingers, is easy to move on the needles and doesn’t irritate your skin.


TB: I could get really technical here, but apparently when I do, I become really boring! So to abbreviate, alpaca is not like sheep wool at all. Alpaca was named ‘The Fibre of the Gods’ by the Inca Royalty and they were the only people who were allowed to wear it (everyone else wore llama). Breeders are trying to get back the quality the Incas achieved (under 15 microns) and gradually over the alpaca generations, this is being achieved.


The fibre we use for our yarn is less than 25 microns in diameter (a micron is 1000th of a millimetre) and it has little or no lanolin. These two factors are why people who can’t wear wool can wear alpaca (I’m one of them). If a knitted garment prickles or irritates you, it has either a lot of guard hair (and/or medullated


86 | ukhandmade | Autumn 2011


fibre), or is over 30 microns. Alpaca fibre has a crinkled look to it and this gives the yarn a memory so that if your garment droops, you can steam it back into shape, it also has a lustre, giving a fine sheen to your knitwear. Although light, it is incredibly warm but doesn’t cook you (I have used some of my cardigans to protect me from the sun). There are 23 registered colours at The British Alpaca Society because alpacas are the most colour diverse fibre producing animal in the world and why our yarn is not dyed. We do blend, mixing shades of, say, fawn to make a digestive biscuit or camel colour and this year, we’ve launched two new colours with one to go!


Actually, talking of camels, alpacas are related to them and are part of the camelid family. There are two types of alpaca, Huacaya and Suri; we use 100% pure Huacaya for our yarn as we just love the softness, lustre and drape and the fact it will keep us warm without weighing us down!


Do you own the alpacas yourself? K-H: I think I have adopted Tracy’s!


TB: …and very happy they are about it too. We currently have a herd of 12; this has recently gone up from 10 due to the births of Hope and Happy! Every year we have a new alphabetical letter and this year is H. We are expecting a few more births, but having had one disaster this year, I don’t want to count my alpacas before they’ve birthed (to coin a cliché)!


What’s the process from fleece to finished design. TB: Alpacas are sheared annually and this usually happens in May. We are delighted to be working with Houghton Hall Alpacas and for the first time, we have their whole clip – over 500 fleeces, plus our 10! The shearer takes a fleece sample to be analysed, then removes the blanket (shaded pink on the diagram) which comes to me on the skirting table. I’ll grade the fleece as either yarn, 2nds or floor. Each fleece then has


Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74  |  Page 75  |  Page 76  |  Page 77  |  Page 78  |  Page 79  |  Page 80  |  Page 81  |  Page 82  |  Page 83  |  Page 84  |  Page 85  |  Page 86  |  Page 87  |  Page 88  |  Page 89  |  Page 90  |  Page 91  |  Page 92  |  Page 93  |  Page 94  |  Page 95  |  Page 96  |  Page 97  |  Page 98  |  Page 99  |  Page 100  |  Page 101  |  Page 102  |  Page 103  |  Page 104  |  Page 105  |  Page 106  |  Page 107  |  Page 108  |  Page 109  |  Page 110  |  Page 111  |  Page 112  |  Page 113  |  Page 114  |  Page 115  |  Page 116  |  Page 117  |  Page 118  |  Page 119  |  Page 120