Pick of the Month Newsletter - January 2017
Winter reminds us of our need for warm, durable fiber products. Hats, gloves, scarves, socks and insoles – they cover us from head to toe!
Why not make those local fibers? Minnesota Grown has over twenty producers who produce local fibers/textiles and animal products. We talked with Minnesota members Hollyhock Alpaca Creations about alpacas and their products.
Member Spotlight: Hollyhock Alpaca Creations
Minnesota Grown: Tell us about your background with Alpacas.
Hollyhock Alpaca Creations: In 2002, we bought two bred Alpacas. We started by spinning and knitting the fiber. We also sold raw fiber. In 2015, we sold the animals to solely focus on the products. We now buy fiber from other farms to create our products. In 2016, after 10 years, we decided to take a break from farmer's markets, so we changed that to fiber festivals. We sell our products at craft sales, farmers markets in Minnesota and online.
MG: What are the benefits of Alpaca Fiber products compared to wool?
Hollyhock: It is softer, warmer and it is a natural fiber. Compared to wool, it is less itchy, therefore people with sensitive skin can wear our products.
MG: Does it hold its quality, color and shape? Does it shrink?
Hollyhock: Alpaca Fiber has a wicking attribute, therefore you will stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer. It comes in many natural colors from white to black and all shades of brown, plus it is easy to dye. Although it does hold its shape, alpacas are being bred to increase crimp frequency which will give the yarn better memory. Since it is a dense fiber, larger garments like sweater should use a thinner yarn to reduce stretching. Like all natural fibers, it will shrink if exposed to hot water, soap and agitation. We shrink some products like hats and mittens on purpose, called Wet Felting, to pull the fiber together and ensure interlocking. This results in a product that is nearly windproof.
MG: What products do you offer to Minnesotans?
Hollyhock: We offer socks, mittens, hats and baby blankets. My favorite product is the shoe insoles. Our Walk With Me Natural Fiber Insoles are perfect for those days with extended walking and standing! Made with 50% Alpaca and 50% wool, it can be worn with any shoe. Our website has more information about our products.
MG: What is your favorite memory with your business?
Hollyhock: I demonstrate spinning every year at Albany Pioneers Day in Albany, Minnesota. There is generally a group of school kids who come with a list of questions. I love to see the epiphany on their faces when they discover that it is not an easy process going from animal to clothing rack.
Thank you Hollyhock farms for sharing about your products. For more information about their products or to place an order, visit their website. Looking for an Alpaca Farm or products in your area? There are more producers listed in the Minnesota Grown Directory.