10 Reasons to Raise Alpacas

Why did we start raising alpacas? We fell in love with them, and the alpaca lifestyle! There are soo many more reasons to choose to start an alpaca farm…here’s just ten of them!

1. Love of the Animals

Like I said, we fell in love with the animals! When we visited that first alpaca farm and saw those intriguing looking animals, it was love at first sight! There is a peacefulness about these gentle animals, with their long elegant necks, large eyes, long lashes, and gentle humming. Alpacas continue to transfix us, making them irresistible for those of us who have taken the “taken the plunge.” 

We raise both suris and huacayas!

2. The Love of Luxury Fiber

As I sorted through the crop of fiber after our first shearing, I knew I wanted to learn how to use such luxurious fiber. It is very high quality, super soft, fluffy, lustrous, and silky. While similar to sheep’s wool, it is not prickly and has no lanolin, making alpaca fiber hypoallergenic.

Suri Fiber

The fiber can be sold raw off the animal, carded and spun into yarn, crocheted, knit, or woven into countless products, or felted. The possibilities are endless!

Huacaya Fiber

In both our Online Store and in our Farm Store, you can find anything from raw fiber to finished garments made directly from the fiber of alpacas. Though we do breed and sell the alpacas themselves, today the fiber is my main reason for raising alpacas.

3. The Desire for a Rural Lifestyle

Having alpacas gives us a reason to get outside, be in the outdoors, and enjoy the beauty all around us. Though we live right next to a major highway, there is something much simpler about living on a farm, raising animals, caring for their basic needs because they depend on us to do so, and sometimes getting dirty. It’s a slower pace. I love living with nature all around us, and looking out my window seeing alpacas graze in the pasture just makes it all that more enjoyable. Alpacas are gentle, inquisitive creatures that make us want to take time out to watch and enjoy them.

Our dogs Lizzie and Louie have a lot of courage on the other side of the fence!

4. A Great Family Endeavor

Living on a farm of any kind teaches kids responsibility, and alpacas are good with kids. When visitors come, we suggest they crouch down, so they are more child size because alpacas are less intimidated by children and more apt to approach them. There are tons of ways kids can help to take care of the alpacas, from filling water buckets, to scooping poop, to halter training…there is always a task with which they can help. Giving chores to your children will instill work ethic and responsibility to take into adulthood. Not to mention, they will treasure the bonds they make with the alpacas!

Raising alpacas is great for the kids
My grandson in the middle of things, loving the attention from the alpacas!

If your children participate in 4-H, they can now do alpacas as a 4-H project! When my children were growing up there was not a 4-H group dedicated to alpacas, now it is becoming much more common. The Richland County Fair in Ohio even has an alpaca barn and hosts an alpaca show every year. 4-H is an awesome program for kids to make friends, build leadership skills, learn about the projects they’ve chosen, and participate in the yearly fair. Find out more about Getting Your Children Involved in 4-H.

Alpaca 4h group at the Richland County Fair in Ohio
Richland County 4-H Club

7. Easy to Care For

Compared to other farm animals, alpacas are low maintenance. They are also very adaptable to different kinds of weather and climates. If you have one acre of land, you can comfortably keep six to ten alpacas. Alpacas require regular feeding and easy access to plenty of clean water, as well as adequate shelter from the elements. They spend most of their time grazing in the pasture. Additionally, plan on annual shearing, de-worming, toenail trimming, occasionally teeth trimming, and annual vaccinations.

8. Alpacas Provide Stress Relief

Even though alpacas have some quirky behaviors like spitting when they are unsatisfied, more and more animal lovers are opting to raise them because they are easy to look after, intelligent, and tidy. Time spent with alpacas is stress-relieving — perfect for forgetting about all the troubles of the world!

Suri alpaca at Alpaca Meadows
Not a good look for such a pretty girl!

8. Alpacas are Trainable

Alpacas are perfect animals for training using a halter and leash. Though fearful initially, I’m always amazed how quickly a weanling begins to trust and learn once halter training begins, and how quickly they begin to trust and do what you’re they’re being asked. Alpacas can be taught to maneuver obstacles courses, walk across bridges, over teeter totters, through streamers, and even crawling in and out of mini-vans!

Sisters Amelia and Annalise are out for a walk with me!

9. Alpaca Manure is Great Fertilizer

We absolutely love to use the alpaca poop as fertilizer! In my opinion the smell is not as strong as cow manure and our plants grow like crazy! We take it straight out of the pasture and into the gardens. Free fertilizer is a great perk of alpacas.

Speaking of manure…interestingly enough all alpacas poop in the same place…yes, they have communal dung piles! When it comes to cleaning out the barns or the pasture there are just a few large poop piles where they all do their business. I know, it’s weird, but that’s just their nature and it makes for pretty easy clean-up.

Alpaca Manure for fertilizer
I always treat my flowerbeds to alpaca manure

Alpacas are grazers and they love a nice green pasture. Typically we will let them in one pasture for a few weeks, let them eat it down, and then move them to another pasture to let that one grow back a bit. Rotating pastures also helps with parasite control.

Alpacas in the pasture
The girls enjoying a pretty day and a green pasture

10. The Cutest Babies Ever

One of the greatest joys of raising alpacas is the babies, called crias. Seeing them born is extra special, and watching themrun in the pasture just brings a smile to my face. Females can be bred once a year and have a gestational period of 242-345 days. Working with the animals starting from when they’re crias makes for a great owner/animal relationship and deepens trust…and the babies are sooo cute!

Alpacas are herd animals so if you want one, you’ll need to have two. This is actually a great thing because they don’t really need us. If your animal has at least one companion you don’t need to worry about not having enough time for them or keeping them engaged or entertained. Just get them some buddies and they will be just fine.

Want to know more about alpacas and our farm? Check out our website.

save the planet, wear alpaca!

Preparing for Shearing Day

Shearing day is one of the most important days of the year on alpaca farms. It is the day that we harvest the beautiful fiber that our alpacas have grown over the last year. Getting organized for the day ahead of time certainly makes the day less stressful and chaotic. Teamwork and a well thought out plan will make shearing day run like a well oiled machine.

That being said, shearing is one of my least favorite parts of raising alpacas, because though our shearers claim it takes them just eight minutes to shear an alpaca, and though they are not harmed in any way, it still is a scary experience for them. Some tolerate it better than others. All of them feel better when it’s over.

So I think of it as an day at the spa for alpacas … they get their teeth, their toenails, their topknots, and their tails all trimmed … in addition to a summer haircut!

alpacas

The cleaner your alpacas are on shearing day, the more value your fiber harvest will be. It has been said that you should “Groom your pasture, not your alpacas.” Make sure that briars, sticks, evergreen needles, dead leaves, and other small, loose vegetative matter are removed from your fields so that it doesn’t get into the alpacas’ fiber. Ideally, keep them in a nice grassy pasture with no hay one week prior to shearing.

I did say a green pasture was ideal. Our alpacas were on straw and a winter’s worth of manure (layered with straw) on shearing day. In Ohio, we go from winter to mud season and it just always seems to be too wet to clean the barns and haul manure anywhere. It’s not the end of the world.

In the pictures, you can see that we’ve used our interlocking stall panels so that we can herd each alpaca into our chute for cleaning. Our chute has belly bands and various restraints to keep the alpacas semi-still while we do some cleaning. Cleaning involves picking the debris out of their fiber, as much as they will tolerate. If they are getting stressed, we quit. This is also a good time to give yearly vaccines, dewormers, and any other medication they are needing.

Here is a list of items to have on hand on shearing day:

  • Large sheets for collecting blanket (prime) fiber. Plastic tablecloths work nicely for this, or a large plastic bag cut up both sides.
  • Large clear plastic bags for seconds (neck and upper leg) and noodled blanket fiber. Clear bags can be hard to find. Check Costco or Odd Lots. Read how to noodle alpaca blanket fiber here.
  • Trash cans for collecting thirds (leg fiber, tail, top knot, trimmings), or a smaller bag if you plan to weigh fiber from each alpaca.
  • Trash can for contaminated fiber.
  • Labels to identify fiber from each alpaca.
  • List of alpacas in order you plan to shear, males first, then light colors to dark colors.
  • Loaded syringes if you plan to administer shots the day of shearing.
  • Towels for “accidents”.
  • Broom for sweeping fiber.
  • Halters/leads to move alpacas to shearing area and back to pasture/barn.
  • Cleaning tools. We use the Crimp Slick N Go and the Oster Curry – Coarse, found at Quality Llama Products. Some people use blowers, but we never have.

Weather is always an issue. If it looks rain, keep your alpacas in the barn to so they can stay dry. A wet alpaca cannot be shorn.

We shear males first so they can be put back out in the pasture and away from the girls that will be parading by all day. We then shear lightest colors animals to darkest, which helps to prevent color contamination.

If we have a mother and cria, we try to keep them close in the shearing line-up to minimize stress for both.

You will need some help. The shearers, of which we have four young, strong men who are professionals and know what they are doing, will perform most of the physical work. This year we got by with three additional people helping the shearers, four or more is better for our size herd. Each helper has a job:

Helper One and Two: Halters alpacas for shearing in listed order, brings alpacas to shearing area. Once alpaca is restrained on mat for shearing, brings next alpaca. Returns alpacas to pasture once they are shorn, making sure to return males and females to appropriate places!

Helper Three and Four: Lays sheet down next to alpaca to collect and noodle blanket fiber, collect seconds, and puts correct label with each. Collect thirds. Sweep up any fiber too dirty to use, toenails, etc.

In the background, you can see the plastic sheets we use, and bags ready to go. Next to them is a clipboard with the list of alpacas in order to be shorn. Labels for bags are also on clipboard.

It’s always a delight to see the lovely fiber that comes off our alpacas!

This is a picture of blanket fiber that has been noodled, label enclosed, with a bag of seconds next to it. I slip the noodled fiber in the bag of seconds, using just one bag per alpaca, but still keeping the blanket and seconds separate.

Alpacas spit! Usually it is at each other, or when they feel threatened. Unfortunately some of them feel threatened on shearing day, and Kevin took it right in the face.

Our grandchildren, Wade, Clayton, and Brylee were the clean-up crew this year! I love that we live on a farm and can involve them!!

Alpacas look a whole lot different without their beautiful fiber, just in time for warm weather to arrive.

Be sure to see Shearing Day and Shearing Day is Behind Us. Coming soon … What to Do With All This Alpaca Fiber!

Cleaning Suri Alpaca Fiber for Doll Wigs

I’ve been going to write a post for quite some time, maybe even do a video, on cleaning suri alpaca fiber for doll wigs.  This morning I ran across the following video on that very topic, and it is using some of our own suri fiber!  To be more specific, it is white fiber from an alpaca named Miss Miami.  Credit goes to Beth Alvarez, whose YouTube channel is Lomi’s Playground.  If you do a search for “alpaca” on her channel, you can see all the videos Beth has made on using alpaca for doll wigs.

In each of our pastures, there is a bare spot where our alpacas like to roll.  It must really feel good, but they do get very dusty.  The suri fiber we sell gets tumbled which helps get out much of the dust, then rinsed multiple times.  As you can see in the video, there still is some muddy water when washing it again.  Each step of the processing is a step towards cleaner fiber.

miss miami suri alpaca

This is our sweet Miss Miami, though we have sold her and she no longer lives on our farm. We were visiting our son in college at Miami University, when Miss Miami was born, hence the reason for her name!

suri alpaca fiber miss miami

And this is her beautiful fiber!

Be sure to check out our Suri Fiber, both in raw form and separated into locks for you.  Visit Lomi’s Playground to see more videos by Beth on using Suri Fiber for doll wigs!

 

Be sure to see:

Using Suri Fiber for Doll Hair
Tips for Purchasing Suri Fiber for Doll Hair
How to Make a Suri Alpaca Doll Wig
Doll Makers – Customer Gallery

 

 

 

How to Make a Suri Alpaca Doll Wig

Lara Nance, doll customizer, author, (and frequent customer of doll hair from Alpaca Meadows), has a YouTube channel called Artistic Adventures.  She has done videos on many aspects of doll customizing, and most recently put together a video on Processing Alpaca Fiber for Doll Wigs.  It seems there are various techniques for making doll wigs.  Lara makes a wig cap out of T-shirt material and glue that is molded to fit the doll’s head, as shown in the following video.  This is much easier and less time consuming than another doll wig technique called rerooting.

This video focuses on how to prepare Suri Alpaca Fiber for doll wig making.

In this video, Lara completes the wig by sewing the glued alpaca wefts to the wig cap with needle and thread for a beautiful finished wig with bangs and a center part.

How to Make a Suri Alpaca Weft for Doll Hair is a mini-tutorial by Fabiola at Fig and Me.  The method she illustrates involves sewing suri fiber onto yarn with a sewing machine, then sewing it onto a crocheted cap.  For a tutorial on how to sew weft to a crochet cap, see this video by Gabi Moench-Ford or this tutorial on her blog called Fairywool Dolls.

Be sure to see:

Using Suri Fiber for Doll Hair
Tips for Purchasing Suri Fiber for Doll Hair
Cleaning Suri Alpaca Fiber for Doll Wigs
Doll Makers – Customer Gallery

Shop for Suri Fiber and Suri Locks at Alpaca Meadows!

What I Did With This Year’s Alpaca Fiber

There are many options when it comes to processing alpaca fiber into a value added product.  Finding a fiber mill that will help you evaluate and determine the best use of your fiber is very helpful.  Morning Star Fiber Mill, an artisan fiber mill in North Carolina, offers custom processing and did our processing for us this year.  I brought our fiber to the Great Lakes Fiber Festival in Wooster, Ohio for pick up, which was very convenient, and I had my product back in less than a month’s time.

Alpaca Roving - Medium Fawn  Alpaca Roving - Bay Black

Two of our huacaya girls, Annalise and Amelia, have been at our farm just a year.  Morning Star has a six pound minimum per color for processing into yarn and I did not have that much fiber from these two girls, so I had their fiber made into roving for spinning.  It is super soft and lovely, and I can’t wait to spin some of it!

Alpaca Yarn - White Mocha

I had been saving fiber from Sunshine and Sunscape, mother and daughter, for several years so I did have enough of their fiber to have yarn made.  I didn’t want just solid colors, so gave “artistic license” to JC Christiansen, owner at Morning Star, and said he should “play”.  He ran Sunshine’s white fiber and Sunscape’s brown fiber side by side at the carder to produce the yarn above.  I am calling it “White Mocha” even though it looks rather silver grey.

I decided on a two-ply worsted weight, a less rounded yarn with a nice “squish factor”.

Alpaca Yarn - Cappuccino

I’m calling this yarn “Cappuccino“.  It is a result of more of Sunshine’s white fiber run side by side with medium fawn, from an alpaca named “Brawny”.  For the last few years I have bought fiber from a local 4-H girl, so the remainder of the yarn was made from her fiber.

Alpaca Yarn - Milk Chocolate

The colors used in this yarn are white, and a white and medium fawn mixed to make a medium rose grey, fed side by side at the carder to produce a color I’ve called “Milk Chocolate“.

Alpaca Yarn - Dark Chocolate

This yarn called “Dark Chocolate” is medium fawn and dark fawn, fed side by side at the carder.

Suri Alpaca Roving - White

I had several years’ worth of suri seconds, so had roving made from the light colored colors, see Suri Alpaca Roving.  I have been dyeing this roving and have had lovely results, be sure to see Circus Time and Summer Delight.  Check back for a post on dyeing roving if you’d like to try this yourself, or try out one of our Roving Dyeing Kits!

Suri Alpaca Roving - Mabelle

The brown Suri Alpaca Roving is from Mabelle’s fiber.

Suri Fiber - Natural Colors

suri_alpaca_fiber_tiger_lily3

I have a market for selling raw Suri Fiber to spinners, and the longer length suri fiber to doll makers.  I sell both natural colors and hand-dyed fiber, so that is what I will do with my prime suri fiber this year.  This involves skirting, tumbling, washing, dyeing, and packaging, more labor for me but less expense.  Who knows what I’ll do with our fiber next year.  I love that there are so many options.  Keeping products unique and marketable is a fun challenge!

See products made from our fiber in past years. More coming soon on how to evaluate your fiber.

Suri Alpaca Merino Lopi Lite Yarn
Mother Daughter Suri Alpaca Yarn

Flowers, Flowers, Flowers

I love hats with flowers, maybe not on me, but a flower just sets off a hat, makes it so much more stylish!  I love flowers, and it is Spring, so thought I would share my Flowers, Flowers, Flowers Pinterest Board.  On it you will find crocheted, knitted, fiber, and felted flowers, some with instructions and some just for inspiration!  Be sure to check out our Classic Alpaca Yarn for many, many pretty colors of 100% alpaca yarn for flower making, and my favorite patterns for Knitting and Crocheting Flowers!

Follow Alpaca Meadows’s board Flowers, Flowers, Flowers on Pinterest.

There are also many FREE flower patterns for knit and crochet, or perhaps you can create your own!  Some of the flowers shown are knit, then felted by throwing them in the washing machine and dryer.  Some have been cut out of felt, others needle felted.  Our Bloomin’ Brites Needle Felted Flowers Kit uses a combination of both cutting flowers from felt and needle felting fiber onto them.

Our Felted Bouquet Kit uses another felting technique called wet felting. Check out How to Make Wet Felted Flowers!

Happy Spring!

 

How to Separate Locks of Suri Fiber

 

Fiber of the suri alpaca grows vertically down the side of the body, hanging in long, separate, distinctive locks.  These individual locks are made up of many lustrous fibers.  Separating the locks of fiber is not hard, but it does take time.  I am a novice when it comes to video, so hope you’ll bear with me.

1.  Identify the tip of the lock, versus the cut end which will be more blunt.

2.  Hold the upper tip end of the lock tightly and pull it away from the base of the fleece, while holding the base of the fleece around the lock.  This keeps the other locks intact and ready for their turn at being removed.

3.  The lock is pulled up and the fleece around it is held intact by my other hand.

This can be done wet or dry, as seen in the video, depending on your preference.

Be sure to see:

Using Suri Fiber for Doll Hair

Tips for Purchasing Suri Fiber for Doll Hair

Doll Makers – Customer Gallery

Coming Soon:

Washing and Combing Suri Fiber for Doll Hair

Tips for Purchasing Suri Fiber for Doll Hair

We offer our raw suri fiber in two different forms.  Our Natural Suri has been carefully skirted, tumbled, and washed. Suri Locks have been taken one step further in that the individual locks of fiber have been separated from the rest of the fleece.

natural suri fiber                             

 

Doll makers are finding that suri alpaca makes beautiful doll hair!  There is some fiber terminology that may be helpful for doll makers purchasing suri fiber for doll hair.

Blythe Doll by Chris Hegarty

Purchasing the Natural Suri is the most economical way to purchase this silky, lustrous fiber.  There is a huge cost savings if purchasing an entire fleece, but this is usually way more fiber than needed for doll wigs.  Separating Suri Fiber into Locks is not difficult, but it is more expensive to buy fiber this way because of the time involved.  See How to Separate Locks of Suri Fiber.

Alpacas in the Pasture

The Terms:

Fiber is the hair of an alpaca.

Fleece is the coat of an alpaca, after having been sheared, but before being processed into yarn or thread.

Micron is the unit of measurement used in assessing the diameter of a fiber.

Micron count is scientifically devised by measuring the diameter of several individual fibers and determining the average. The lower microns are the finer fibers.  The larger the micron count, the courser the fiber.

The textile world generally uses six Grades of Fiber for Alpacas:

Grade 1 Ultra Fine (less than 20 microns)
Grade 2 Superfine (20-22.99 microns)
Grade 3 Fine (23-25.99 microns)
Grade 4 Medium (26-28.99 microns)
Grade 5 Intermediate (29-31.99 microns)
Grade 6 Robust (32 microns and above)

Locks
are the natural divisions in an animal’s fiber.  A single lock of suri is made up of multiple individual fibers.

Skirting is when fleece is shorn off an alpaca, the blanket or primary fleece is brought to a table where the guard hair and vegetable matter is hand picked from the fiber.

Staple is an independent cluster of individual fibers.

Staple Length is the actual length of shorn alpaca fiber.

Tumbling is when fiber is placed in a machine called a tumbler and, well, tumbled, to removed dirt, dust, vegetable matter, etc.

Vegetable Matter is the little pieces of hay, stray, dead leaves, seed heads, and sometimes burrs that find their home in alpaca fiber.

More Alpaca Fiber Terms can be found on the Alpaca Fiber Cooperative of
North America, Inc. website.

Vegetable Matter

And now the TIPS:

 

1.  Be aware that there is a lot of waste when combing out the locks. Be sure to purchase up to an extra ounce for your project, to make sure you have enough.

2.  For whatever reason, the darker colors seem to work well in the higher micron range – 26 microns and up.   The fiber tends to have less static, is stronger for combing, but is still very lustrous and the fibers hang together well.

Dark Brown Suri Fiber

Dark Brown Suri Fiber Separated Into Locks

3.  On the flip side, the whites and lights work better in the finer micron ranges, say 20 – 28 microns.  Finer than 20 microns and the fibers will break.  Over 28 microns, the fiber just looks bad with no luster, the fiber looks coarse, etc.

White Suri Fiber

White Suri Fiber Not Separated Into Locks

4.  Lengthwise, the 7″-8″ fiber works the best.  That is just a year’s worth of growth for many animals, so it is easier to comb out, has less breakage, and overall has less damage than most of the two year growth animals.  Some doll makers opt for longer fiber, 9″ – 12″.  Though premium prices are charged for this longer fiber, it can be hard to comb out and tends to have more vegetable matter embedded in the locks.  Of course, it is lovely but can be more work.
Suri Alpaca Fiber, 6.5"', Medium Fawn, 2 Ounces, Simeon
5.  Stay away from fleeces of alpacas that the alpaca owner has shown extensively in the show ring.  This fiber is going to be prone to fiber breakage due to repeated stress and length of time the fiber is on the animal.
6.  Be cautious of first year fleeces.  Again, breakage due to stress of weaning can make the fleece problematic for doll hair.
7.  Buy from an experienced fleece handler who knows the doll hair market.  Many suri farms will offer their fleeces for sale in this market, but only a few will really understand the characteristics needed to make good doll hair!
 2012_634733645411868000
Thank you to Liz Vahlcamp and my doll maker friends for helping me with this post!

Other related posts:

Using Suri Fiber for Doll Hair
Cleaning Suri Alpaca Fiber for Doll Wigs
Doll Makers – Customer Gallery

Coming soon: Combing Suri Fiber for Doll Hair

Doll Makers – Customer Gallery

 Suri Alpaca Fiber has become quite popular for use by doll makers that use it as doll hair.  See Using Suri Fiber for Doll Hair.  Pictured are below are dolls made by some of our my favorite doll makers with suri fiber from our very own alpacas.

 

Katty Van De Sype

Katty Van De Sype

Blythe Doll by Sofie Bell

Sofie Bell

Sharon Avital Dolls

Sharon Avital

Blythe Doll by Ingrid Gilbert by

Ingrid Gilbert

Blythe Doll by Chris Hegarty at Blythe Kouklas

Chris Hegarty

Zeina by Belén de la Morena

Belén de la Morena

Blythe Doll by Sofie Bell

Sofie Bell

Blythe Doll by Morgon Orton

Morgon Orton

Blythe Doll by Justine Hewett

Justine Hewett

Blythe Doll by Sharon Avital

Sharon Avital

Blythe Reroot by Cindy Sowers

Cindy Sowers

Blythe Doll by Ingrid Gilbert at Sweet Days Dolls

Ingrid Gilbert

Blythe Doll by Cindy Sowers

Cindy Sowers

Blythe Doll by Sofie Bell

Sofie Bell

Blythe Doll by Sophie Bell

Sophie Bell

Sharon Avital Dolls

Sharon Avital

Sharon Avital Dolls

Sharon Avital

Blythe Doll by Sophie Bell

Sophie Bell

Sharon Avital Dolls

Sharon Avital

Blythe Doll by Belén de la Morena

Belén de la Morena

Suri Fiber for Doll Hair

Cindy Sowers

Natalia

Natalia

Sandra Lócre

Wig with Suri Fiber from Rocko

Lara Nance

Wig with Suri Fiber from Alpaca Meadows

Lara Nance

Lara Nance

FAVORITE DOLL MAKERS

Cindy Sowers of Burlington, VT
Chris Hegarty of Blythe Kouklas, in Melbourne, Australia
Ingrid Gilberty of Sweet Days Dolls, in Ngaruawahia, Waikato, New Zealand
Sharon Avital of Sharon Avital Dolls, in Ramat Gan, Israel
Belén de la Morena of DCBE Handmade in Valladolid, Spain
Katty Van De Sype of Earthstone Girls Europe in Alost, Belgium
Sandra Lócre of Little Cosmos Dolls in Barcelona, Spain
Lara Nance of Artistic Adventures in Port Orange, Florida

 

Tips for Purchasing Suri Fiber for Doll Hair

Separating Suri Fiber into Locks

Coming soon –  Washing and Combing Suri Fiber for Doll Hair

Using Suri Fiber for Doll Hair

I gets lots of orders for Suri Fiber from doll makers all over the world, that use this natural fiber as doll hair.  This doll’s name is Zeina and her reroot was done by Belén de la Morena at DCBE Handmade in Valladolid, Spain.

Zeina by DCBE Handmade

Not being a doll maker myself, I had to do some research. What I found was a whole new world (that I knew nothing about) and some terminology I had never heard of like BlytheBJD, and Sad Eyed Susies for starters, all plastic dollies that are being remade, redressed, and having their hair rerooted!

Blythe Doll - Alpaca Reroot by Cindy Sowers

This is an alpaca reroot on a doll done by Cindy Sowers of Burlington, Vermont, using Suri Fiber from one of our alpacas.

Zuma's Fiber

Natural fibers are being used for doll hair to give a unique, more realistic look. There are approximately 22 recognized natural colors of alpacas with many variations and blends.  Light colors can by dyed as seen above, so there are many, many options when it comes to color.

Suri Alpaca Fiber - True Black

 Suri Alpacas have silky and lustrous, penciled fiber that grows in “dreadlocks” which lends itself nicely for use as doll hair.  There are a variety of locks and fiber styles that Suri offers, which gives doll makers variety in hairstyles for their unique, one-of-a-kind dolls.

Lock Styles

  The five lock styles currently recognized by suri breeders are tight ringlet, flat twisted, curl, pearl, and straight.

Miski

Alpaca is a natural fiber and so it can be styled using a blow dryer, flat iron, or curler, and moderate amounts of heat.  Other styles are created with curlers or braiding.

Sam

Alpaca is a great substitution for Mohair since it is finer, easier to handle and is not greasy.

Suri Alpaca Fiber, 6.5"', Medium Fawn, 2 Ounces, Simeon

Doll artist Morgan Orton says this about alpaca versus mohair, “I love the look of both, but Alpaca is my favorite. It’s fun to work with and creates a really unique look!  I love how clean the lines are, every strand adds to the effect. It’s naturally straight but has a kind of piecey, almost edgy look to it if left alone.  Both mohair and alpaca can be styled different ways though, since they’re natural fibers they can be heat styled, which is a lot of fun!  Alpaca hair can be styled curly or wavy a few different ways, whether with heat, rollers, or braiding. You can also break up the stringy look of Alpaca hair by brushing it with a boar bristle brush which gives it a really floaty fluffy cotton candy look. The boars bristle because it’s made from natural fibers like the Alpaca and will distribute the hairs oils and boost shine. Alpaca hair can get sort of stringy looking, which is a pretty cool look and part of its appeal, but using a bristle brush will help to break it up and smooth it out a little. You can also style your Alpaca hair wavy/curly by “scrunching” it when wet after combing it out, a tiny bit of mousse or other similar hair product can help with this.”

Alpaca Reroot by Morgan Orton

Alpaca Rerooted Blythes is a Flickr group with thousands of pictures of dolls that have alpaca for hair!

I  have been amazed at the orders I get for Suri Fiber from doll artists all over the world!  It has been fun to see orders come from the east coast to the west in the United States.  As I scroll down through my sales list, I also see orders from Italy, Australia, Spain, Frances, United Kingdom, Norway, Brazil, Switzerland, Lithuania, Poland, Denmark and Thailand.

Tips for Purchasing Suri Fiber for Doll Hair
Separating Suri Fiber into Locks
Cleaning Suri Alpaca Fiber for Doll Wigs

Be sure to see pictures of dolls using Suri Fiber created by our customers in our Doll Makers – Customer Gallery!

Also coming soon – Combing Suri Fiber for Doll Hair

Doll wigs are made from a variety of different fibers, from natural to synthetic.  Jessica Hamilton shares some very helpful information in her post called What is Doll Hair Made Of?, part of a series on Doll Wigging and Hair.

Alpaca Meadows