For our next stop on the Fibre Trail (after visiting MacAusland’s Woolen Mill and making some sweet sweet yarn purchases) we headed off towards something rather different from what we had seen. Rather than going to another mill we went to a source of fibre, namely Green Gables Alpacas (GGA). It bares saying that technially this isn’t on this year’s fiber trail as it has been bizarrely left off from this year’s edition. I got my hands on a Fibre Trail pamphlet from the year previous and yup, there it was, right on the front flap. I’m choosing to assume it was an honest oversight that it got left off, and that it wasn’t some malicious deliberate omission (though that would probably make for a pretty interesting story!). Luckily for me I already knew about GGA from a discussion on Ravelry, so off we went.
First, let me say that our Garmin GPS sucked. Honest to God, we ended up on some weird mystery road in the middle of nowhere thanks to the Garmin, and it wasn’t until I hauled out my smartphone and brought up the Google Maps app that we actually found the place. Seriously need to pick up your game, Garmin GPS. Seriously. Granted, the farm was down some random weird mystery road, but it wasn’t the weird mystery road that the Garmin put us on. We did eventually find it, though, and man was it ever worth it.
Pulling up to the barn we were greeted by the owner, Janet, and her excitable, slightly asthmatic-sounding pug Otis. Immediately I knew that this is a fully functional farm and nothing that I could see was done for “show”, and I really liked that. We were allowed into the fenced in area with the female alpacas. Again, it wasn’t like we were in some special little fenced off “visitor” area where they bring a leashed/led animal up for people to see – we were right in there with the animals! They didn’t force the animals to interact with us, but luckily some of the alpacas were pretty friendly and came up to us on their own and let us pet them.
They had recently been sheared so they look a but hilarious and weird, with their necks and bodies all sheared but their feet, heads, and butt all fluffy. I giggled, but I’m easily amused like that.
[pullquote]Interesting Alpaca Fact: Their poop wasn’t very stinky compared to other farm animals![/pullquote]While we were in there, walking around with the alpacas and petting them, the owner told us all about how the farm works and the sorts of challenges raising alpacas comes with. A couple of the animals were pregnant and she even showed us where to look to see the baby kick/move inside the pregnant alpaca’s stomach.
We then moved over to the paddock with the male alpacas, which also featured their “guard llama”, Griswold, and we even got to feed it apples. The hyperventilating pug Otis was there with us, more excited than I have seen any dog ever, I have no idea how its head didn’t explode or something from how excited it was. I don’t like dogs but holy hell that dog amused the hell out of me. Janet even explained to us the different colours of alpacas, how they’re determined, and the sorts of challenges it poses when breeding alpacas, all of which may sound boring but it was actually really interesting.
At the end of the tour we went in to the (albeit very small) shop, and I bought a skein of hand-dyed blue 100% alpaca yarn, the fiber coming from some of the animals I got to pet, which amuses me to no end. Really beautiful yarn, though, and so incredibly soft I spent the next stint in the car just rubbing it on my face because it was so soft.
So that was our trip to Green Gables Alpacas. It honestly so far surpassed what I was expecting, and it WAY surpassed what my parents were expecting since they were doubting the place even existed. It is a serious disservice and unfortunate omission that this location isn’t featured on this year’s Fibre Trail pamphlet because it honestly was one of my favourite stops for my whole vacation.
The final stop of that day was to Julie’s Yarn Shop in Borden-Carlton (near Confederation Bridge). By this time my dad was getting pretty yarned out but he (very indulgently) agreed to drive there on the condition that this would be the last stop of the day. Fair enough.
Julie’s Yarn Shop is found on the Fibre Trail pamphlets, and it was also recommended on the Ravelry boards. The building is basically just a house, so at first I was a bit hesitant, but once inside I knew I was in the right spot. There were all sorts of different yarns, but what I was really looking for was a drop spindle. The worker there (I presume Julie??) asked if she could help and I said that I was looking for a drop spindle and that it would be my first one so I’d need some guidance. Her response?
“Great! Have a seat!”
She then gave me a lesson on how to spin, right then and there! I was totally floored that she was so helpful and happy to teach. After I got the general hang of things she helped me pick out a drop spindle and some fiber to work with. She explained that while I’m still learning I’d probably want to use fiber with a longer staple. She was incredibly helpful and informative (even wrote out helpful tips on the back of my receipt for me!) but was not at all pushy or sales-y. She genuinely just loved yarn, loved spinning, loved passing along the knowledge and love of yarn arts, or so it seemed to me. My only complaint is that she only accepts cash or cheque, neither of which I carry, but luckily my mom came to my rescue! (Thanks mom!!) Julie’s Yarn Shop was well worth the stop!
(View Part One – MacAuslands Woolen Mill)
(View Part Three – Belfast Mini-Mills)