News

It's Alpaca Day

In celebration of National Alpaca Farm Day and Washington State Alpaca Farm Day, Dina Blackstone and Tracy Quinten are opening their North Whidbey farm to visitors this Saturday, Sept. 29.

Undoubtedly, the highlight of the event at Island Bliss Alpacas farm will be the five adorable alpaca babies, called crias.

Blackstone said people will get the chance to hand feed the gentle animals, tour the farm, learn about alpacas, and witness the fiber artists at work, spinning and felting.

The alpaca farm store is also open for everyone curious about the luxurious fiber or looking for a good Christmas present. It carries alpaca yarn, socks, gloves and couch throws as well as sweaters, scarves and hats. Also available will be raw fleece.

Alpaca fiber is unique and coveted by hand-spinners, artists, knitters and anyone who likes comfortable clothing.

Because of its soft texture, alpaca fiber is sometimes compared to cashmere, but with the luster of silk. It is just as warm as cool, but only a third of the weight. It comes in 22 natural shades.

Containing no lanolin, alpaca fiber is also naturally hypoallergenic. Most people who are sensitive to wool find that they can wear alpaca without the itching or irritation they feel from wool because alpaca fiber is smooth.

Additional performance characteristics include: stretch, water repellency, and odor reduction. For travelers, clothing made from alpaca is desirable because it is wrinkle-resistant.

Alpacas, cousins to the llama, are native to the Andean mountain range of South America, particularly Peru, Bolivia, and Chile. The animals are shorn, without harm, every 12 to 18 months, each producing five to 10 pounds of fiber.

According to a proclamation by Gov. Christine Gregoire, there are 246 alpaca farms in the state, making it the fourth in numbers of alpacas in the nation.

In addition to Island Bliss Alpacas, Maxwelton Aerie Alpaca Ranch on South Whidbey is also open for the national day of alpaca honor.

Island Bliss Alpacas is located at 2839 Taylor Road, just north of Crescent Harbor Road, one mile south of Fakkema. Learn more at www.islandblissalpacas.com.

You can reach News-Times reporter Jessie Stensland at jstensland@whidbeynewstimes.com or call 675-6611.

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