About Laurel Highlands Alpacas

Laurel Highlands Alpacas, Pennsylvania creates and presents the best alpaca fiber and products to be used in the finished items I sell, as well as the raw products I offer to you to use for your own creations and to keep the price affordable.

Who's Behind the Scenes

I’m Julie Follansbee and I invite you to come along with me on this ever evolving fiber journey.

I am a dressmaker by training with an appreciation for fabric. I love soft natural fabric.

I first read about alpacas when studying textiles, dressmaking and clothing construction 30 years ago at the Fashion Academy of Pittsburgh. There was a small paragraph in a textbook (Textiles: Fiber to Fabric  Fifth Edition by Dr. Bernard Corbman) that described the beauty, strength and luster of the alpaca fiber and for whatever reason stayed in the back of my mind.

I went to work for a tailoring supply company known for carrying the most exquisite silks from the world, the finest wool suiting from Italy, and small yardages of fabrics used by designers of haute couture houses in all of the most fashionable cities in the world.

I loved being in that shop, surrounded by such lovely things. Every once in a while, we would get a piece of alpaca fabric, usually blended with wool, but alpaca just the same.

I remember it being the softest fabric. “Like butter” we would say when describing it to our clients and it was soft and smooth with the the very slightest sheen. It was also strong. In our research, we found that it was a truly durable fabric.

The feeling of that fabric stayed with me all these years.  I went on to have a custom dressmaking business where I designed, tailored and constructed custom garments for clients. When my husband took a new job in a different city I put my dressmaking business on hold and we started our family. I plunged in to volunteering at church and school and only used my sewing talents for those things (and our family, of course).

Every fall we would do the annual hayride and pumpkin search and again every once in a while an alpaca would pop up reminding me of that fabric. Eventually we moved to a larger piece of property and began to research alpacas and decided that they were the perfect animal for our land and here we are, still learning after all these years.

A freshly sheared alpaca blanket.

As with many things, learning by doing teaches the best lessons. I’m a lifelong knitter and fiber person but I had to learn to process the fiber myself, from assisting with shearing to sorting, washing, carding, combing, spinning and knitting, crocheting, or felting the fiber to truly appreciate the fiber.

I’m always learning and I invite you to come along as I learn!