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28 January 2008 @ 11:44 am
The Alpaca Blanket Project  
This sounded pretty interesting - figured I'd share it with you guys!

The Alpaca Blanket Project has evolved from collaboration with an American mill that has world-wide reputation. Since 2003, Elderberry Creek Alpacas has been working towards creating a North American resource for the alpaca community to have for the use of our fiber. The mill spent many months with the Llama co-op developing the methods to process camelid fiber and produced blankets (throws) made with llama fiber with a mixture of sheep wool. Now we approach providing them with the first run of sorted and graded alpaca fleece so that throws will be completed in time for the 2008 holiday season.

Our desire is to enable the American alpaca farmer to produce a cost-effective American-made product, and to bring public awareness to the wonders of alpaca fleece. We do not consider this project to be in competition with AFCNA, but rather another option for the alpaca owner, and one that we believe will benefit our industry overall.

My wife, Carol, and I will be doing most of the grading and sorting of the alpaca fiber (as well as some of the skirting for the blankets that come in straight off the alpaca). We will attend the fiber grade and sorting class from Ruth Elvestad at (manager of the Natural Fiber Center at Olds College in Alberta, Canada) in February/March 2008. Our goal is to teach others to sort and grade, and to offer classes on our farm starting this Spring. The mill will do the washing, carding, spinning and weaving.

Q: What is the anticipated wholesale cost of an alpaca throw produced by this mill?
A: Alpaca throws will be available to those who donate fiber for cost +3%. We anticipate this to be less than $40 per throw.

Q: What type of fiber can be used?
A: We are accepting fiber from both Suri and Huacaya. The lower the micron the better, from the blanket and good seconds. We can not use grade 6 (above 30 micron) at this time.

Q: Will the throws be natural colors, or dyed?
A: ...

Q: Is this a co-op? What is the fee for joining?
A: There is no fee for joining the Alpaca Blanket Project. This is not a co-op, but a networking of contributors with the intent toward a specific marketable product. The goal is to pay for fleece by the third production run.

Q: Who will sort the fiber for sending to the Mill?
A: Trained Alpaca Blanket Project volunteers will do the grading and sorting, whereas the Manufacturer will do the washing, carding, spinning and weaving.

Q: When will the throws be ready?
A: If fiber donations come in as pledged, we should have the first run completed in time for the 2008 holiday season!

Q: Do you pay for fiber sent to the Alpaca Blanket Project?
A: We are targeting the third run for payment of fiber, possibly $1 per ounce.

The first two runs will ramp up to production in this way: The first run will consist of two colors of 400 lbs of same-grade fiber. We must collect 4,000 lbs to have enough for this first sort. Fiber not utilized in the initial run will be added to and used in subsequent runs.

It is these sort groups that should bring the volume and income to the point where payment can be made for the fiber. The first run will only use the two largest of these sorts. The second and third runs should follow quickly after the first.

Q: How much fiber have you collected so far?
A: As of January 2008, we have received around 700 pounds of fiber and have been pledged around 2,800 pounds to come in "after the holidays" through "2008 shearing season." As you can see, this is less than needed. However, one of the contributing farms has placed an ad in the Alpaca Magazine that encourages people to visit this Alpaca Blanket Project page, to learn more and to send in a portion of their fiber.

Q: What if we want to donate a large amount of fiber? Mailing it can be pricey.
A: We are diligently working to develop avenues to transport fiber from across the US to our farm. One of the alpaca transport companies has already agreed to pick up and deliver fiber along their route that follows the I-5 corridor from Washington state through Oregon and California. We endeavor to expand that to other states.

Q: Where do I send the fiber?
A: Fiber can be sent to:
Alpaca Blanket Project
10868 Siegmund Rd SE
Stayton, OR 97383

Q: Can I support the Alpaca Blanket Project, even if I don't have fleece to send at this time?
A: With your permission, we would like to list your farm as a supporter of the Alpaca Blanket Project on our website. Contact <elderberrycreekalpacas@yahoo.com> if we may use your logo and place it as a link to your website from the Supporters page . If possible, please add a link to the Alpaca Blanket Project on your website.

Q: How can I help to get the word out?
A: Let others in your farm connections know about the Alpaca Blanket Project - networking is immensely vital to the condensed time line!

One of our frustrations is that we can not pay for fiber at this time. Once folks learn about the Alpaca Blanket Project, some have asked "what is in it for me?" Hopefully, the information above will give some of the answers.

Please let us know if you have more questions. Also, we are interested in how you heard about the Alpaca Blanket Project. Email <elderberrycreekalpacas@yahoo.com> or call 503-769-9466.

We have also been asked "what is in it for you?" Not sure yet on that one yet, but penciled out, we will be earning about $0.25 (two bits) per hour. However, It is about the fiber! Actually, both Carol and I desire to be certified as fiber judges and this will take us a giant step in that direction.

Peter & Carol Lundberg
Elderberry Creek Alpacas
10868 Siegmund Rd SE
Stayton, OR 97383
(503) 769-9466