Monday, May 12, 2014

Wool Fair

   There are two wool fairs held in Washington County, Minnesota, every spring.  The first one, held over the weekend, is the alpaca and llama fair (with some miscellaneous animals sneaked in).  I love the colors, textures, smells, sounds.  Alpacas make the sweetest, saddest sounds, sort of a soft wistful moaning. 

"Hello, everyone.  Come on in the barn so I can get a look at you."

No two alpacas are the same.  These have curly topknots and smiling faces.

I had never seen an alpaca being shorn.  It certainly doesn't look very fun for the alpaca.

  "Hey, don't look at me!  I'm naked and feeling embarrassed."
This baby alpaca, called a cria, has just been shorn.

Alpaca wool is expensive, $1.50/oz. and up.  That's unwashed, uncarded, and there is always waste because some fibers are too short to spin.  The wool is very desirable because it is so soft, luxurious, and warm.  When you wear it, it is never itchy. 

The fleece is washed and carded into roving.  The colors at the front are natural and at the back are dyed.

The colors don't have to be boring, either!

The woman on the right was spinning on a homemade wheel.

And here is the finished product, soft and lovely skeins of wool ready to be knit.

Llamas are much bigger cousins of alpacas.  Can you believe how many sweater's worth of fleece this guy is wearing???

This is not a llama or alpaca.  A few fiber rabbits sneaked in.  This guy's wool is the highest priced of all, $6 oz.

Someone always has a new idea for using wool.  This one is for the birds!  I think I will be making one for my birds with my grape vine prunings and trimmings from a fleece I bought last year. I can't imagine anything nicer for baby birds to snuggle in.
I usually spin my own homespun wool, but the colors and texture of this skein were too much to resist.  The photo doesn't do it justice as the blues are darker than the camera shows and it has small bits of  bleached Irish linen added. 

Thanks for visiting my blog. 
I'd love it if you have time to leave a comment.


  1. What an interesting fair to visit. I'm sure there must be an easier way to shear an alpaca than that! I bought a scarf made from alpaca when I was in Peru and it is just the best.

  2. They've farmed alpacas and llamas over here for some years - though I'm ashamed to say I can't tell one from t'other - but they still look such exotic beasts in the English countryside.

  3. Cynthia I have never been to wool fair. I believe it's very interesting in my country that fair doesn't exist. Very nice photos.

  4. Did you go Saturday or Sunday? You going to the Shepherd's Harvest too?

    1. Saturday. Did you go, too? I probably won't go to Shepherd's Harvest. They now charge admission so I decided to go to the free one last weekend.

    2. I was actually on my way there with Goodnight when we passed Gorman's. I decided that she would propably rather go out for breakfast than look at yarn-producing animals and because we had not been there since Officer Friendly passed away, we went to eat instead.

  5. I love all the animals photos ~ adorable and I know great knitting with their fur ~ Great post for OWT ~ xoxo

    artmusedog and carol (A Creative Harbor)

  6. They are cute animals - I never knew their wool is so highly regarded.

  7. That sure looks like a great place to take lots of photos! Love yours a lot. We have small farms of llamas around here but I never thought about how they were shorn!

  8. I had to google "fiber rabbits" just to make sure you were not pulling our legs. I have learned something new today. And I thank you for that.

  9. What adorable animal shots.

  10. I love it! I'd love a few Alpacas but I couldn't squeeze them in anywhere. They do have a we are not amused look on their faces after being shaved don't they? I hope they're not cold. As always a lovely way to start the day x

  11. They have such cute heads and eyes, there wool is very expensive mostly. I am allergic for real wool, can't wear it, gives me a red head and the jitters.

  12. I recall visiting an alpaca farm in New Zealand years ago - fascinating animals.

  13. The shearing does look like an inelegant process - for everybody!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

    PS: there is a brief explanation of why the beach squeaks in this weeks WBW.

  14. Lovely animals and photos.
    The Alpaca wool is lovely to use :)

  15. Love this post! I have always wanted to learn to spin. Now that's the kind of bunny I really wanted!

  16. I raised some angora rabbits once...they need special care! Those Alpacas are something else! I love the fiber you is a beautiful blue:)

  17. Wow; what an interesting post about alpaca and their wool which is highly regarded♡♡♡
    So sorry for my a bit late comment. I hope you are having a wonderful week.

    Sending you Lots of Love and Hugs from Japan, xoxo Miyako*

  18. I actually have a friend who used to own an alpaca farm. The bunny is so cute. It really doesn't look very comfortable for the alpaca to be shorn.