It took us a while to figure out a cost-effective way to make nice dryer balls, but Diane did it! We have now added alpaca dryer balls to our Housewares offerings in the online store!
Come meet the alpacas and get first dibs on fall and holiday shopping this weekend! Heartfelt and the Lickliders' farm, Curly Eye, will be open to the public Saturday and Sunday, September 29 and 30, from 9 a.m. till 3 p.m. Visitors can meet the alpacas, feed them, take pictures, learn about alpacas and their wonderful fiber, shop in our Best-of-Columbia farm store, and this year we're planning a kids' tent for making alpaca ornaments and tshirts. Hope to see you there!
Check out this piece in the local paper about last weekend's holiday sale and be sure to join us this Saturday is you missed it!
Heartfelt will be at Arrow Rock this weekend, October 14-15, and at Hannibal next weekend, October 21-22, for their fall festivals. The Heartfelt booth will feature our popular insoles and other felted alpaca items, cozy alpaca socks, and fun-tastic animal hats for the young and young at heart. Hope to see you there!
Shopping at a local farm store puts money into the local rural economy, funneling cash to farmers, which makes living on a small farm more affordable. There is a cash drain in rural America, money endlessly flowing outward. Farm stores can bring a bit of that cash-flow back into the rural economy, where so often it just bleeds outward. Where you shop matters, friends. Shopping at a farm store makes farming that much more economically viable.
One of the students at the University of Missouri's famous School of Journalism did a nice little piece on Heartfelt. Check it out here!
Heartfelt Alpaca Creations has been partnering with Purely Alpaca/Choice Alpaca for several years, and we wanted you to know about their fiber call. Purely Alpaca is offering $10 per usable pound of prime fiber and $8 per usable pound of seconds and thirds, to be paid in store credit forwww.PurelyAlpaca.com.Interested? Here are the details:
Heartfelt products begin with an alpaca like Cindy Lou Who, our mascot. Sometime in the spring–usually April or May–we'll shear our herds. Diane and Linda do their own shearing a few animals at a time. Mary hires a professional shearer who shears in the US during the New Zealand winter off-season.
We are grateful to everyone who came today for our SARE workshop. We have now uploaded all of our project files to Dropbox.com, so that anyone who is interested should be able to get to the files by clicking HERE. If that doesn't work for you, just email us, and we'll manually add you to the Dropbox folder.
My mom was a quilter, and I can remember as a child playing under the expanse of a new quilt pinned into the frames, surrounded by the legs of my aunts and neighbor women as they sat around the perimeter of my fort, talking and stitching. As childhood forts go, they were huge! So many years later, when Heartfelt was forming and beginning to make felted alpaca rugs, it seemed natural to me to sift through the boxes of quilting and applique patterns that I'd inherited from mom. The grey Evelyn's Posy design is named for her, and I like to think that she'd approve of this new use of these timeless designs.
I grew up sewing, knitting, and crocheting, so most of the alpaca fiber activities I’ve engaged in have seemed very natural to me. Not so with dyeing fiber. I was involved with alpacas for a full ten years before I finally got up the nerve to even begin to try dyeing my own fiber and yarn. It just all seemed so technical and mysterious: managing the pH of the fiber, getting the heat right, mixing the dye to get the color I wanted. There were too many variables to content with.
Heartfelt is a small company founded by four women from the American heartland and steeped in the traditions of many cultures. Ancestors of the alpacas raised by Heartfelt's owners were domesticated some six or seven thousand years ago, when the first hieroglyphs were being used in Egypt and Stonehenge was being built in England. Alpacas lived with humans for so long that Incan mythology has alpacas emerging from the caves along with humans. They are also believed to have arisen from the waters, and in some stories are credited with saving humans from the floods.
We found we needed a quicker, easier way to cut insoles from our alpaca felt. After doing some searching, we found Tippmann Die Cutting Company in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. Die cutting is a manufacturing process used to generate large numbers of the same shape from a material. We had them custom make four sizes of dies (Small, Medium, Large, and Extra-Large) to cut out our alpaca insoles and another two to cut out coasters and hot pads.
When Heartfelt ordered its FeltLOOM®, there were only about a dozen in operation around the country and none in Missouri. The machine was developed by a group of Kentucky farmers who worked with the University of Kentucky’s Center for Manufacturing to refine their original designs. The University provided the engineering and modeling expertise required to build new production prototypes. A patent was issued on this needle felting loom for fiber artists in October 2008.
Alpaca fiber comes in 22 natural colors recognized in the US. Any colors in the tan to brown and grey to black spectrums will occur naturally. So all of the base colors for Heartfelt rugs and wall hangings and all of our insoles use natural, undyed fiber. We do, however, dye some fiber to use as decorative elements on our rugs, wall hangings, hot pads, and coasters. Sometimes we use commercially dyed yarn. Sometimes we purchase dyed fiber from other fiber artists. Still other times, we dye the fiber ourselves.
Once the fiber is sorted, but before we ship it to the mill, we tumble it in small batches in a big wire drum. We set fans in front of the drum, and as it turns very slowly, the fans blow the worst of the dust and hay out of the fiber. Alpacas love to roll in the dirt. Their fiber is dense, so it’s not unusual for the outer portion to be dusty while the fiber closest to the skin is shiny and clean.