Having never seen an alpaca except in photographs, I wasn't too sure what to expect. I had heard that they are not outgoing animals and that they tend to spit at people when annoyed, so I planned to keep my distance and was prepared to dodge missiles. That turned out not to be the case. Holly did see one alpaca spit at its handler in the showing ring, but I missed that delight.
Turns out alpacas (at least the ones at this show) are very alert and curious. They don't like to be approached suddenly by strangers and they don't like to be manhandled. Who does? For the most part, they were well-mannered and friendly. In fact, I would say they behaved better than the guests at the show. It amazes me that people will touch an animal without the owner's permission -- and even worse, allow their children to do so.
There were about a dozen vendors with different alpaca products from unprocessed fiber to roving to yarn. Many beautiful handmade shawls, scarves, sweaters, gloves, hats. Handmade soaps, needle felting kits, stuffed alpacas, finger puppets. Some articles made in Peru, but most handmade by the vendors themselves. I thought most of the prices were very reasonable, even for the hand-knitted items.
|I couldn't resist these Peruvian-made gloves.|
Although I have three bags of alpaca fiber in the process of being carded, the roving was so soft and tempting. I succumbed to this lovely blend of 70% alpaca, 30% silk roving from A Simpler Time in El Cajon. The alpaca fiber is from their champion Calypso Cloud and photos don't do it justice. It has a range of beautiful gray shades from light silver to nearly black. Since I haven't actually spun alpaca yet, I was conservative (for me) and bought only two braids of this fiber - a little over 3 oz. each. Mistake!
As soon as I got home, I put an empty bobbin on Bunny and commenced to spin. I have to admit the first couple of yards were difficult -- the fiber drafts so easily I kept breaking the roving and having to join it again. But after reducing Bunny's tension to almost nothing and slowing her down a bit, I found that I love spinning this fiber.
Now I feel a little less intimated by the bags of fiber in my studio. May need to order more bobbins for Bunny so I can have a few different projects going at once.
Back to the show...
After surveying the vendor area, we walked up and down the rows of alpacas. I knew that these animals carry a range of colors and two basic types of fiber, but I was surprised to realize that no two of them looked alike.
Really enjoyed talking with the owners. When we stopped to admire the first group of alpacas, their owner, Joe of La Dolce Vita Alpacas invited us to go into one of their enclosures and pet their alpacas. The animals were a little shy but one stood patiently while we fondled his soft fleece. Good thing my home isn't zoned for farm animals because I might have thoughts about wanting a herd of these guys.
|I ogled this two-toned fellow, but the lovely brown boy behind him let us pet him.|
|The judging ring. Could have watched for hours.|
|The huacaya alpaca has a soft, puffy looking fleece.|
|The suri alpaca has a silky fleece that looks like dreadlocks.|
|While I was taking photos of these two lovelies...|
|The guy in the back kept peeking at me through the fence.|
|Who could resist this face?|
|A lot of ladies had their hair colored like this in the sixties.|
|Shhh... I is trying to hide!|