Yarn, Yarn and More
'Tis the season when knitters, crocheters, and weavers are making furious plans for the winter, or are already hard at work. As knitting in particular enjoys a huge national revival, a growing number of small farmers are making wool and other fibers available to the public. This is good news for handicrafters.
One line of materials that has caught our attention is alpaca. Warm like wool, soft like cashmere, durable like synthetics, alpaca is a unique and wonderful fiber. Unlike wool, alpaca is hypoallergenic and lanolin-free, meaning that many people who can't wear wool can enjoy handmade gifts made of alpaca.
Alpacas are native to the Andean mountains, where for centuries their fleece was reserved only for royalty. The intelligent, curious animals, cousins of the llama, were introduced to the U.S. in 1984. According to the Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association, there are currently over 60,000 registered animals in this country; that number represents only a very small percentage of the worldwide population, most of which are found in Peru, Bolivia, and Chile. Several LocalHarvest members raise alpacas and make their own yarn, most of which is undyed and comes in rich cream, gray and brown colors. See our all of our alpaca product listings.
You may be able to find all manner of locally produced fibers, including fibers, through the LocalHarvest directory. Your odds are particularly good if you live in the Northeast, Midwest, or Pacific Northwest. Try a product search for 'yarn' in your zip code area from our home page. If there is nothing local, or nothing local that suits your fancy, consider the LocalHarvest store, where a dozen small farmers sell wool, alpaca, llama, and mohair yarns in natural colors and dye lots. For those who want to try their hand at spinning, the store offers combed wool (known as "roving").
Photo: Mountain Morning Farm