Monday, January 26, 2009

Ziraldo Alpacas and Great Roving

On Saturday the weather finally cleared and the truck was running so I was finally able to make it to Thorndale, Ontario to see Ziraldo's Alpaca Farm (

Debbie and her son Chris were very accommodating and willingly showed me around their farm, introducing me to their alpacas.

They have 13 beautiful animals. They all approached us, probably hoping for some grain, but they stayed to look us over.

Their fibre is so lush, thick and warm that they can stay happily outdoors in our cold Canadian winters. They do have a shelter area that they can go to to get out of the rain or wind, but for the most part they enjoy being outdoors.
Fancy is the small gray alpaca in the front and she certainly lives up to her name. She lead the pack down the snow trampled path towards us.
This experience has clearly put a new delineation into spinning and knitting. Now I was not only spinning from roving and knitting a particular fibre, I was actually meeting the animal it came from. I realized that these knitted garments once they were completed would forever be linked to the name of the animal. "I'm wearing Miss. Muppet today" will be my phrase to describe my knitted wear or I'm going to make a scarf from "Pumpkin". I really like this linkage, how it's personalized and full of meaning.

The animals were curious and gentle. We didn't try to pat them, they would be too shy to touch, but they were certainly curious about us. They did not spit, and I'm told they would only do that if were had irritated them in some way.

These animals not only produce wonderful fibre for knitting and felting, they also produce great poop. Their waste makes for great compost and is sold as well because it can be put straight on the garden without burning plants. (I just wish there was some way I could keep an alpaca in my back yard).

They say that you can't really breed for colour. Genetics plays a role of course, but genetics can't really be controlled. The same way we don't know if our children will have green eyes or blue, the colour of the alpaca coat is often a surprise and a delight.

The roving and yarn were absolutely delicious! Soft and warm, luxurious and a pleasure to touch. The colours were all natural--as they should be--and a real feast for the eyes.

My first project will be a white scarf and hat, made from "Miss. Muffet's" fibre. This winter has really been a boon to the knitter and her quest for warmer fibre.
Snowstorms usually signals late buses and standing at bus stops for long periods of time waiting in the freezing cold. These warm fibres are invaluable on cold blustery days.

Fancy treads into deeper snow in order to investigate Rodney the cat more closely. Rodney took it all in stride but moved a little quicker as Fancy got too close. He wanted to see the visitor too. (Rodney probably could tell I was a crazy cat lady from one glance or sniff).

Of course I bought roving to spin on my spinning wheel.

The colours are so luxurious and the caramel, chocolate and vanilla together are just scrumptuous! I can't wait to be knitting this fibre.
And I thought I'd try my very first pair of alpaca socks. The socks are incredible! I don't think I'll ever wear another type of sock again. I relucantly took off one sock for this photo and then promptly put it back on. They are very cozy and warm and my feet love them, especially with this particularly cold Canadian winter we are having. I've never knit socks before, but now that I have roving, anything is possible.
I met the babies too, named after characters from the Narnia Chronicles (Mr. Tumnus, Prince Caspian). Beautiful white, pumpkin and brown coloured animals. Be sure to check out their web site to see photos of baby Evagaline's birth at
You can see their lovely fleece and how thick and dense it is. The crimp is highly valued as well.
I had a marvelous time and really enjoyed meeting the Ziraldo Farm alpacas. The Ziraldo's are wonderful people to do business with and it was a pleasure to visit their farm and get to know them. I look forward to lots of spinning days ahead and more pairs of alpaca socks.
Mmmm... cozy!!!

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