I was lucky enough to be invited to be a guest speaker at the National Alpaca Association in Telford. There was something about the idea of it that I found a little bit comical and quirky. The Alpacas, while undeniably cute, made me think of the 'PushmePullyou' characters that appeared in the Rex Harrison version of Dr. Doolittle (a gazilion years ago).
But today, walking around the show, I met legions of committed and passionate people who take the farming of Alpacas very seriously. They are proud of their animals and the products they create from Alpaca wool - and quite rightly so.
I was amazed at some of things I saw, which ranged from a company who made slick suiting fabrics which were being used by some very well known Saville Row tailors, through to a semi circle of very jolly ladies, knitting, laughing and having a great time. There were people experimenting with Alpaca and silk blends to make carpets, companies making upholstery fabrics and others making stunning socks, scarves, jumpers and other delightful things you can wear. I took a real fancy to a firm making Alpaca wool duvets and pillows - as someone not great with feathers, I found that idea very appealing. I shall be making enquiries!
Finding new markets for their products
The key thing I want to say about my day, is that I met people who are not only making beautiful things, they're being innovative and creating new markets for Alpaca wool and its products. It's relatively early days for Alpaca, compared to say, the massive wool industry. But from what I saw today, Alpaca has enormous potential to become mainstream and who knows, there's probably huge opportunities for export too.
I had a fab day, and learned a lot about Alpaca wool.