Sunday, November 15, 2009

My Minnesota Morning

Hi Knitters,
I am having a hard time even thinking about how to write down my experiences from yesterday. I get kind of overwhelmed just thinking about it and then I can't figure out a good and appropriate way to tell you about it. I decided to break down the day into sections. Hopefully this will help me sort it out.

By the way, can you get over that great expression in the photo above? I can't. It makes me laugh.

On Saturday morning, the owner of Blue Sky Alpacas/Spud & Chloë, along with her kind husband (who does all of their fantastic pattern photography), picked me up at the hotel. I was checked out and ready to go. They took me out to their house, which was wonderful. They are in the midst of a renovation which was all familiar to me. I loved seeing the work in progress and all of her tile and color and floor samples. I eat that stuff up. The best part besides spending time with my beloved boss lady? I got to meet her three alpacas that live with her on the farm. I have never even been near an alpaca before and it was a treat.
I didn't realize that these animals have enormously endearing personalities. That's why they are so sought after and popular, I guess. I can't remember the names except the golden one is named, Colonel Mustard. Isn't that great? He was a funny one, too. She kept telling him to put his teeth in! That made me laugh.

My boss lady was extremely excited about her manure spreader that you can see in the distance there. It has opened a whole new world for her. Too good, right?
We had some carrots with us which they thoroughly enjoyed. I love the hair on top of their heads so much. Funny.
This experience was so fun for me. I know people think Wisconsin is all farms and everyone lives on a farm (and a lot do) but I am just a city girl with horrible allergies. I have very little experience with animals of any sort due to my life long battle with allergies and asthma. For me this close up experience was a treat.
The alpacas are incredible animals. They have a sweetness about them that would be tough to match in any other animal. They are kind of nervous or flightly but I could tell they really love and trust their owner.
I have an extreme cat allergy so I didn't linger about these adorable kittens but I did appreciate their cuteness. They were full of sweet kitten noises, too. When my mom was a little girl she had a kitten she named Lil' Sweetheart. Every time I see a cute kitten I always think of my mom and her Lil' Sweetheart that she loved so dearly. These two are definitely lil' sweetheart caliber.After the house visit I got to visit the Blue Sky Alpacas/Spud & Chloë office and warehouse. I took a ton of pictures but when I looked through I noticed that in most every shot there were projects and new colorways and things that haven't been released yet. I couldn't post those so I will just tell you that I didn't want to leave the premises when it was time. I could stay there for a week and still not want to leave. The creative energy is palpable. The yarn is the most beautiful and unique in the industry and the people who work there are top-notch. The beauty of the studio space is something I have never seen or experienced anywhere. You should know that when you buy Spud & Chloë or Blue Sky Alpacas yarn and patterns and needles and bags that it all comes from an exquisite little Minnesota hideaway that is truly like a fiber/design dreamland. It is a magical spot tucked away in the wilderness.

I was loaded up with gifts and love and new, fresh inspiration. My boss lady (she doesn't like public recognition which makes me love her even more) is incredible and generous. She gets me wishing I had a lot more hours in the day to work and knit and create. She inspires me. I got sneak peeks at all kinds of cool yarn, colors, projects, ideas, sketches, textiles, etc. It was priceless. After this stop I could have just packed up and gone on home.

We went to lunch and headed off to the Shepherd's Choice in Anoka.

Little did I know the day was only going to get better from here on out!
Here is a very short 30 second video I took of the alpacas. At one point I turned the camera as if I was taking a photo, which wasn't good, but I still thought you might enjoy seeing exactly what I got to see:)

I'll be back tomorrow with part 2 of Anoka, Minnesota.
best, susie


Unknown said...

I love alpacas. They are so adorable with their little toupees. Sounds like you had a great trip.

Kate (KnitsInClass) said...

Jealous that you got to see the Blue Sky Alpaca headquarters! Sounds like a blast.

Anonymous said...

The alpacas are so sweet. Thanks for sharing. I bet you wanted to take a couple home so that you could live with, and be inspired by, them 24/7. Best wishes for continued fun on your tour! --Ramona

Betz White said...

I'm so happy you were able to hook up with such a great sounding company. *sigh*

When I used to commute from Madison to Lands' End I passed an alpaca farm that I could see from the highway. I always loved seeing them on my way to work!

Ann said...

Just adorable. Alpacas have become quite popular in the UK as the fleece is worth so much more then sheep. They have such sweet faces and what a treat for you to spend some time with them.

Anonymous said...

I love your blog and now own all three of your books.
Will you be coming to Colorado?

Alison said...

Isn't the Blue Sky Alpaca office/studio the best?!? I linger way too long each time I stop in!! That place just oozes with creativity and design talent. It's amazing!

It was so great to finally meet you, it was like meeting an old friend. Congrats on all your success!

Much love, and happy knitting-

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to let you know about BAX 3000 therapy for allergies. I, too, am allergic to cats. I've just started the therapy, don't know if it will work for me yet, but the website has so many positive testimonials that I decided to try it. Hope this helps!

Michelle said...

Wow, those alpaca really made my day. So cute! It would be great to see Blue Sky Alpaca HQ!

Anonymous said...

Alpacas are just so cute...I like Llamas too. Some years ago, I was, very luckily, invited to tour Chris Switzer's "Switzerland" Alpaca and Llama farm in Estes Park, CO. Now she also specializes in Paco-Vicuna animals and fleece. Chris is also a weaver.

I walked into the fields with Chris to see the animals and had a wonderful time with her. She mentioned that her animals are used to humans, many weren't back then. She has always raised them with lots of touching and human contact so they are really used to people. Consequently the Llamas, who tend spit when stressed or annoyed, were quite sanguine about us tramping about.

Her husband always stayed with the animal from the moment they were ready for transport (from whatever country) and traveled with the animal all the way to their new home in CO. She had a couple of newly arrived animals that we just looked at from afar, as they needed some quiet adjustment time.

Chris and her husband were one of the early US adopters of these animals and bred and boarded them. Many of their animals seeded the herds (if that's what they are called?) around the US.

She has a book out about 'How to spin Alpaca, Llama'. If I recall correctly the newest edition adds info about new super soft Paco-Vicuna fiber, that even has little tufts of the stuff inside the book. She sells some of the fiber through in Boulder, CO. That's where I've been able to see it and admire it. Not sure how much production she has going yet. It is fairly pricey, for fiber, but is one of those luxury items that are well worth the investment for a small project. Light, super soft and warm for it's light weight.

--NAAY other than I had a wonderful time visiting with her and the animals! As Susan said when you don't get much contact with farm animals this is such a wonderful adventure and a very special moment. They are just the most attractive animals.

Jaime said...

Oh my goodness! Now I want an alpaca! They are too cute! And I'm so excited that you got to go and visit the "mother ship!!!" I'm so jealous! Sending a big hug your way!