Here in Northern New York we have some wonderful farms and farmers. People who are dedicated to bringing the best product for your hard earned dollar. Marble River Alpacas is no exception to this rule. This farm located in Chateaugay, New York is owned by Bill and Sue Holbrook. I've had the privilege of conversing with Sue Holbrook via Facebook private message. It was truly a pleasure. Her passion for her work and the fibers that are produced from her Alpacas was palpable!
I am sure any of you who have read this blog for more than a month know that I really love working with fibers like alpaca because of their unique qualities which ultimately make up a gorgeous finished product. Sue and Bill Holbrook raise Huacaya Alpacas. Known for their dense, wooly, crimped, fleece Huacaya alpaca create amazing yarns. Not to mention that they are SO cute! :) According to my research at Alpaca.com the price per ounce for high quality alpaca fleece is $3 to $5.00 (that's per OUNCE). This is because alpaca is an exceptional fiber. Marble River Alpacas do everything humanly possible to maintain a healthy, happy, heard of Alpacas and produce the best fiber for their consumers. There's a reason for this price so lets get to some facts.
Let me just take a moment to discuss my research on alpaca fibers from industry professionals so that fiber artists like myself understand what makes alpaca so exceptional.
An article by Linda K. Davis owner of Alpaca.com L.L.C lays out 3 key points for consumers of alpaca yarns/fleece in her article entitled Alpaca Fiber- More Valued Than Silver
"To touch and then to wear a 100 percent alpaca garment inspires superlatives, i.e., "stronger than mohair . . ." "finer than cashmere . . ." "smoother than silk . . ." "softer than cotton . . ." "warmer than goose down or the new synthetic fabrics like Gortex," and "breathes better than thermal knits." And the really exciting part of these enthusiastic endorsements is that they are all true.
But there is more good news about alpaca fiber:
1) Almost indestructible, fine woven alpaca garments in remarkably good condition have recently been discovered in Peruvian ruins dating back 2500 years. Just think how long your new alpaca sweater will last!
2) Alpaca clothing is extremely healthy and comfortable to wear. The absence of lanolin and other oils in the fleece and its extraordinary fineness of handle mean that alpaca garments are both hypoallergenic and luxuriously soft on your skin. When you put on an alpaca sweater, you will immediately notice the absence of the scratchy "prickle" found in garments made of more coarse fiber.
3) Unlike other mono-color animal fibers, alpacas produce fleece in more than 22 different colors. This amazing spectrum delights hand spinners and industrial manufacturers and reduces the need for dyeing, which further protects and enhances the resilience, softness, flexibility, and hypoallergenic qualities of the fiber." http://alpaca.com/alpacafiber.cfm
In an article from Mother Nature Network by Melissa Breyer entitled 10 Things You Didn't Know About Alpacas, points out some very important facts about alpaca fleece and something for fiber artists to keep in mind: "But beyond their charming, quirky good looks, these creatures are responsible for bearing some of the silkiest, most versatile fiber found in nature, for which they are shorn annually. Alpaca is a specialty fiber that has been described as stronger than mohair, finer than cashmere, smoother than silk, softer than cotton, warmer than goose down, and better-breathing than thermal knits." When a customer is looking for a long lasting fiber, you can't do better than alpaca for a garment, blanket, or pillow.
When considering what we get for the price Alpaca yarn is a very good deal!
Sue Holbrook and her husband Bill started their journey into farming alpacas in 2008. "It all began in August of 2008. While visiting a farmer's market, we were told that we could visit their farm to get acquainted with alpacas and see what they were all about. We were hooked.
We purchased four alpacas; 2 pets, 1 juvenile male and one female bred to 12X champion Beethoven. We had plenty of land but no barn, fencing or all the other things we needed to be able to bring our "herd" home. Our alpacas stayed at Pond View Alpacas in Altona, NY while we were building a barn, putting up fence, buying mats, panels, halters and all the things we would need.
By the time we were ready in the summer of 2009, we had bought four more females, and our first cria, Beethoven's Lady Amelia, made her appearance on July 23, 2009. A beautiful light fawn female. Gradually, we started bringing them home.
Our focus is to breed for conformation, reproductively sound and disease resistant alpacas with exceptional fiber. We currently have 26 huacaya alpacas on our farm. Our award winning bloodlines include Hemingway, PPeruvian Caligula, Accoyo Grand Triumph, Legacy, Grand Peruvian Colegio, SuperNova, Snowmass Cangalli Gold.
We belong to AOBA, Empire Alpaca Association, NEAOBA, Mapaca, Alpaca Registry Inc., Openherd, Alpaca Farm Directory, NYS Farm Bureau, and the Chateaugay Revitilization Committee. We host school field trips, Cooperative Extension programs, 4H clubs and anyone else who happens down our driveway to see our curious alpacas. Our career in the alpaca industry has begun!!!!!" http://www.marbleriveralpacas.com/cms/node/5
They love their alpacas! It shows in the quality of their fiber. Talk to Sue for about 5 minutes and see if you aren't ready to buy an alpaca of your own :) Truly her passion is wonderful! This is why we carefully research the farmers we feature on this blog because their work is so important to not only our economy but also to the industry.
Bill and Sue are always happy talk to people about their Alpacas you can find their farm here: "You are always WELCOME! We ask if possible, to please call in advance to let us know you're coming.
From Watertown, NY: Take Court St/NY-12 N. Stay straight to go onto Leray St/US-11. Stay on US-11, turn left onto CR-39/Earville Rd., 127 County Rt 39 is on the left.
From New York City: Get to I-87 N/New York State Thruway N. Merge onto I-87 N/I-90 E via Exit 24 toward Albany/Montreal. Merge onto I-87 N via Exit 1N toward Albany Int'l Airport/Montreal. Take the Rt-3 exit, Exit 37, toward Plattsburgh/Saranac Lake. Turn right onto NY-190/Military Turnpike. Turn left onto US-11. Turn right onto CR-39/Earville Rd., 127 County Rt 39 is on the left.
From Montreal: Get to Rt 209 crossing into United States, New York. Rt 209 becomes NY-189. Turn right onto Looby Rd/CR-8. Turn right onto US-11. Turn right onto CR-39/Earville Rd. 127 County Rt 39 is on the left." http://www.marbleriveralpacas.com/cms/node/8 https://www.openherd.com/farms/2353/marble-river-alpacashttps://www.openherd.com/farms/2353/marble-river-alpacas
Naturally Sue Holbrook sells her beautiful yarn. You can purchase her products by contacting her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or at their facebook page (where you can also see the many awards they have won at alpaca industry shows!) https://www.facebook.com/MarbleRiverAlpacas/ Sue will be happy to give you a price on her gorgeous yarns contact her via private message. They do not have an internet sales site but they do have a store. She offers both hand spun and mill spun yarns. If you cannot make it to the farm, she will include shipping in the quoted prices. Since Marble River Alpacas are award winning their fleece is of the highest quality. You will not be disappointed by your purchase. Its so worth paying what seems like "extra" money for alpaca yarn because of its durability, and largely hypoallergenic, and flame resistant. Consider it a long term investment.
I want to thank Sue Holbrook so much for her contribution to this article and for being so willing to allow me some of her time to help me understand the Alpaca industry. It was such an enlightening experience! She's allowed me to share some of the pictures of the yarn she's got for sale currently. Those of you who love yarn will probably be drooling over such gorgeous yarn with me :)
**Opinions expressed on blogs about which I write are the opinion of the blog authors and DO NOT necessarily reflect my own opinion.