Alpaca breeders raise awareness

2019-05-14 06:00
The young males will be sheared at the end of October, and their wool will be used to make unique garments.

The young males will be sheared at the end of October, and their wool will be used to make unique garments.

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National Alpaca Day was celebrated on Saturday 27 April, with an exciting road trip through the Hottentots Holland Mountains, into the Cape Flats and finally ending off in Noordhoek.

The Helderstroom Alpacas farm, just outside Villiersdorp, dates back to the 1700s and has an English history. After acquiring the land in the early 2000s and completing renovations, Christopher and Alison Notley began breeding alpacas with five pregnant females from Chile in 2004.

What started as just five is now many more, and from the breeding, they are able to create garments from the fur (fibre) and create employment for many women across the Western Cape and Eastern Cape.

“The thrust of our business at Helderstroom Alpacas is to make once-off exclusive garments for the high-end market. We shear our herd of 50 alpacas at the end of October,” says Alison.

The fibre then goes through a process where it later comes out as wool. Alison continues: “I learned to spin and then taught Brenda and Theresa who I am proud to say have each won the top hand-spinning award from the Cape Guild of Spinners and Weavers, five years in a row.”

On creating jobs, she says: “Our knitting and weaving is outsourced, and in doing so we create employment for ladies in Villiersdorp, Franschhoek, Hermanus, Cape Town and as far away as the West Coast. I take batches of spun yarn to these ladies and a few weeks later I collect what they have made. We hand knit on knitting needles and we weave on hand looms. We don’t do machines!”

With the community of alpaca farmers being small in South Africa, and as president of the South African Alpaca Breeders’ Society for five years running, Alison and the other 64 members are eager to create awareness of the business of alpaca wool farming.

“We had a wonderful weekend celebrating National Alpaca Day (which seems to have stretched into a weekend) at Lorna Ramsden’s beautiful Ohio Farm close to Chapman’s Peak Drive in Noordhoek.”

She continued: “We, along with three other breeders, were invited to participate in displaying and selling our hand-worked, pure alpaca products. We set off on Friday, bakkie stuffed to the gunwales with goodies, over the Hottentots Holland mountains, down Sir Lowry’s Pass, along the Cape Flats, southern suburbs, Ou Kaapse Weg and then the drop down into picturesque Noordhoek.”

Both Alison and Christopher were more than happy about the turnout on both days.

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