Friday, June 10, 2011

Alpaca Shearing and Spinning Weekend

At the end of May our lovely alpacas got their annual haircuts and we held an Alpaca Shearing and Spinning weekend here at the Inn. We've had quite a few different animals at the inn over the years, from llamas to mini french lop rabbits, to pygmy goats and bubble eye goldfish. We've had our alpacas for about 3 years now. John Conboy of Schoharie Llamas does our shearing every spring. He owns a llama farm and shears about 350-400 llamas and alpacas every year.

We also had the pleasure of a fiber spinning demo from Sheila Jillson who came up from Cape Ann, MA with her spinning wheels - and one of her beautiful angora rabbits. Sheila raises angora rabbits, has been spinning for about 17 years and knits beautiful hats, gloves and scarves.

John talked with guests about shearing and how alpaca fiber is considered one of the ultimate fibers because of it's warmth and softness. The fiber is actually hollow, which is why it's so warm. With shearing the first cut from the from the torso to the upper thigh is considered the best.

Sheila demonstrated the spinning process starting with her drum carder which straightens the fibers like a comb to spinning the fibers out on her various wheels. She said with her rabbits that she plucks their incredibly soft hair every three months or so and then cuts it short. The going rate for angora fiber is $9 an oz and is seven times warmer than wool!

We were also holding our work week during the shearing so several of our guests helped John out with the alpacas. They have to be lifted onto a table and secured, which some of them don't like very much, but in the end they are much happier and cooler.

Thanks to John, Shelia, and our guests who made our alpaca shearing and spinning weekend a great event!

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