“Quality is not a act, it is a habit.”
My whole goal is to have a quality product made from fiber from my alpacas (and my friend’s) that is durable, lovely and useful. I don’t have time for just fluff and pretty. We never got alpacas, like others did, because they were the “huggable investment”. They are sweet and cute though, which is a bonus.
I’m not brutal in culling my herd-God does that for me, and I do believe that every fiber is useful for something, so I would never (never say never) intentionally put one down for their fiber.
Where am I going here? Sometimes pursuing quality can be paralyzing for me. Let me give you an example. Early in my dressmaking career, a friend’s mom was the friend of a very famous actor’s mother and recommended my dressmaking skills to the woman. After doing alterations and making her a few other garments, she decided that she wanted a simple but beautiful silk charmeuse, tea length, half circle skirt that zipped up the side with a matching camisole. No biggie. I could make it in my sleep. Try as I might, that darn bias on the silk gave me the challenge of my sewing life. I’d done it before, but this time the fabric was not cooperating. I can’t remember what I told her, but I gave her her money for the fabric and didn’t charge her to make it. I did not want to sew something and have someone pay for a job I knew that I could have done better. And what did she think about the outfit? In her eyes it was exactly what she wanted and thought it was amazing-French seams, hand picked zipper and all. For me, all I could see was the ripple in the fabric where I had sewn the zipper. I saw the flaws.
So where am I going here? I’ve learned to balance the pursuit of perfection with the common sense of reality. Quality is job one, yes, and is, but using the proper components is a big part of it. Like this nesting station for birds. The fiber is “junk” but I dyed it and have used this for corespun rug yarn too. The birds love it. I just needed to come up with a unique holder. Felted balls on a copper coil worked for me. I think my friends painted it black and I love it. More “junk” dyed, spun and made into beautiful rugs. Flaws to some, but I’m getting over that.
Back to socks. When we got alpacas, my intention was to spin the fiber and make it into products to sell which would pay for their upkeep and then some. But what products? And let’s not forget, that I have a textile background, knitted, crocheted and was an expert tailor and dressmaker, but had never spun fiber. To say I had no clue would be an understatement. We’ll discuss that all another time. Let’s just say that when I found a sock I liked made of alpaca, it was my goal to make that sock (or contribute my fiber to the company who made them) to make socks from my own fiber, except at that time, the above mentioned company bought fiber from Germany because the quality was consistent and the American alpaca breeders couldn’t get our act together to produce enough of consistent quality. I bought their socks and sold them and really loved the feel and fit, but they weren’t made from my fiber or even from American fiber. And then they sold to a company in Canada.
But I always wanted some made with my fiber, so this was an opportunity to do it. I have a few fine micron animals, but for the most part they are around 25-28 microns. Junk to some breeders. But who wants to build a sky scraper building using barbecue forks? Give me a solid steel girder any day. Same with fiber for socks. I want them to last AND be comfy! Below is a photo of a pair I tried to hand knit. Slow going for sure. To make a very long story short. Over the years I’ve attended fiber workshops, classes, shows and festivals to get to know what’s out there to help make it happen. Through talented fiber artists and lots of research I found a mill that could spin the fiber for the sock yarn I wanted from my animals. They in turn sent it to a mill to make the actual socks. This has taken 10 years of research and trial and error. Our first batch arrived yesterday and we are soooo close! I have my testers wearing them today with a discerning eye and foot, but think it’s safe to say that with a few tweaks, we are on the right track. I can’t wait for them to do more and share them with you.
I’ve alway had faith that things would come together and I think they are. What about my challenge to myself of processing all of my fiber myself? I am balancing realism snd perfection and will do what I can, but I think that at this time, I have to seize this opportunity and have expert help.
In the meantime, remember to wash your hands, don’t touch your face, get outside for some fresh air and keep the length of an alpaca cria (which is a baby alpaca and about 3 feet long) between you and the next person.
Have a blessed day!