On our quest to help our clients find a use for all types of fibre, you know, the stuff too short or too tender to spin, we are now making a 'core spun' yarn. Depending on the grade, it is destined to make a soft gorgeous bulky cowl, rugged but warm slippers or a unique woven rug; you decide and we'll make the yarn. At 2+ wraps per inch, this yarn is really, really bulky and works up very quickly with super large needles. The inner core of thin yarn adds stability and integrity, unlike regular roving or 'Lopi' style yarn. If you need to take your project apart for a 'do over' this yarn stays together with no damage. Have fun and be creative with a super bulky yarn for that super fast uniquely yours project!
Thankfully 2014 is coming to a close. It was a tough year for me as I struggled with many emotions and the torture of my demons while I fought hard to regain my sense of worth, confidence and identity. I often found myself on the edge of the cliff and the losing side of the battle and admit there were many days when I truly felt like giving up. I am thankful that I was always surrounded by the enormous emotional strength of those around me who mean so much. Those who stood quietly by my side, maybe not knowing what to say, but not judging while offering an ear to listen or a comforting solid hug to get me through the worst times. And when the mood was right and I dyed, it reminded me of who I needed to get back to. The person I once was and the person that I was so truly missing. Sometimes the colours didn't turn out as expected, but I guess that is a reflection of life. It doesn't always turn out as expected and we must make the choice to continue to agonize, to learn to accept or to re-invent.
Continuing to find new opportunities to use all of the fibre from the alpacas, we have started to make teddy bear sewing kits. ‘Bear Buddies’ are made from those fleeces with the softest fibre that is too short to spin. These bears are perfect for all ages from toddlers (sewn by an adult) to older children as a craft project, to older folks suffering from altzheimer’s for their tactile properties. As the bears are already felted, they can be safely washed and laid flat to dry.
Definitely one of our best sellers this winter for Alpaca Central’s retail customers, giving them the opportunity to experience the warmth and comfort of alpaca without a huge cash outlay, we launched this as a new mill product. Our goal is to help our customers find a viable use for all of their fibre and to help them recover the ongoing cost of their herd. Insoles take advantage of coarser, shorter fleeces and neck fibre that is undesirable to make into yarn. Early indications are this product will be very well received within the fibre industry, especially given our quick turn-around time and ability to custom process small batches.
We anticipate this to be the first of many specialized products.
Wishing everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous 2014!
2013 was an incredible year for us and we are truly thankful for all the support we received as we ventured further into new territory with Grand Valley Fibre Company.
Finishing touches to the mill were completed in January and while we patiently awaited delivery of the equipment, we washed and dried our backlog of alpaca fibre. The equipment arrived at the beginning of February and our lives were once again forever changed as the straight-up learning began. I soon realized that everything about the process required math calculations. Thankfully Aldo is a whiz and quickly mastered the process and the formulas to make the most spectacular yarn.
Over the course of the year we met the most wonderful people with awesome fleece and gained the confidence that ‘the Spin Master’ could replicate any yarn weight and maintain our targeted turn-around time. We’ve never worked harder and in spite of some challenging days, can say that although we are constantly exhausted, we are also very proud of how far we’ve come and have a good line of sight on where we are going.
Happy New Year!
Taking up the challenge, the ‘Spin Master’ has proven that he can take raw, unwashed alpaca fleece and process it into washed, finished yarn ready for pick-up within 3 days! After less than a year working with the fibre and our amazing equipment, he has truly mastered the process and is able to maintain his objective of tight turn-around times for our customers so they are not waiting up to a year for finished product.
As Grand Valley Fibre Company is now the exclusive processor for Alpaca Central’s spectacular fibre, it became critical to find a brand name for the final products that reflected our passion for the fleece.
1. showing great enthusiasm for or interest in: an avid moviegoer. Synonyms: enthusiastic, ardent, keen; devoted, dedicated; zealous, fanatic. Antonyms: indifferent, apathetic; reluctant.
2.extremely desirous (often followed by for or sometimes of ): avid for pleasure; avid of power. Synonyms: eager; hungry, greedy, insatiable; covetous. Antonyms: disdainful, loath.
Origin: 1760–70; < French avide < Latin avidus, equivalent to av(ēre) ‘to crave’ + -idus
Avid, eager, keen all share the sense of strongly desirous. Avid suggests a desire akin to greed, so strong as to be insatiable: driven by an avid need for fame and recognition. Eager implies a desire that is strong and impatient but less than overpowering: eager to try his hand at new tasks. Keen carries a sense of zest and active, alert desire: an amateur painter, ever keen to try new techniques.
The word avid is relatively new, coming into the language in the 18th century from the French word avide, which comes from the Latin word avidus. That word, in turn, comes from the Latin verb avēre, a multifaceted word that is translated as “to crave, long for,” but incorporates many levels of desire, from eagerness to hunger to outright lust.
As used in English, the sense of physical craving or hunger is very rare, as in this 1866 translation of a line from Ovid's Metamorphoses: “Or dragon avid for his prey.” Instead, we tend to use avid synonymously with “intensely eager.” What avid lends to “eager” is the added dimension of intensification by either enthusiasm (an avid fan of indie films) or desire, which can sometimes morph into greed (avid for company; avid for gold). An excess of any of these qualities may lead to darker territories, as shown by this 1953 quote from The New Yorker: “He was writing for a public avid for gruesome details.”
Don’t be fooled. It's not just a regular everyday carrot. As time progresses, it seems to have taken on a whole new meaning, but I’m sure that’s not how it was originally intended.
Let's go back to July of 2012. The thought process for the mill was well underway, however it was still only a series of discussions, nothing concrete.
This was the summer we had committed ourselves to growing the perfect, well tended garden. Giant pumpkins, several varieties of squash, lettuce, beets, onions, potatoes, celery and carrots were carefully (and lovingly) planted. All were doing well and showing signs of life except of the carrots. Still. We had already replanted them and were stumped as to why the seeds hadn’t germinated. In previous years, the carrots had been spectacular, lasting well into the winter, being harvested through the snow! But the same wouldn’t be true this year.
Our friend Robin who’s an avid gardener and plant expert had come up for a trunk load of alpaca poop for her garden. We got talking and told her about the plan for the future mill and as the conversation progressed, she expressed interest in being a part of the plan. Handing her the final packages of carrot seeds, an offer was made........plant the seeds and if the carrots come up, she’d have a job at the mill.
Fast forward to February 2013 and Robin arrived for her first day of work at Grand Valley Fibre Company, with a potted carrot in hand. No, the carrot seeds that she planted, never did sprout. Don't know why, but figure it had something to do with the lack of rain and the sweltering heat all summer, but Robin still got the job!
As I look philosophically at the potted carrot basking in the steam on the window sill above the sinks, a month into our mill adventure, I can draw the following parallels to our fledgling business.
Yesterday we bastardized some beautiful black alpaca fibre by blending it with white alpaca laced with merino. At one stage during the process it looked almost skunk like and although nothing was said, I’m sure everyone was skeptical at the results of the combination. It has now been spun and plied, producing a gorgeous rich steel grey yarn. Can’t wait to see it knit into something special!
So, having alpacas and the mill has now taken me into completely new territory. While I always thought I was a purist, I guess I’d never really given myself the chance to step outside the box into the unknown. When we first got alpacas, I took the stance that as the fibre comes in 22 recognized colours, why would anyone need to change the colour to something else, let alone blend it with another fibre. But now, my creative side is rising up and challenging my conventional side and creativity appears to be slowly taking over and becoming the norm.
Two nights ago I stayed up well past the traditional bedtime (yes I’ve always been a night person) experimenting with some new dyes that I’d recently purchased. I had a blast and by the end of my dyeing adventure, my fingertips were blue tinged and the plain white alpaca sock yarn was now a rainbow of colour. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I’ve never been one to follow a traditional path when I make something and dyeing was no different. That night, I added colour to one skein at a time, truly playing with the effects of the colour and the dyes. Only the basic theory of the colour wheel was followed, nothing was measured and no recipe was used leaving the final outcome a sensational predicted surprise.