Our original four boys came from Ardo Alpacas in Aberdeenshire. We are not alpaca breeders and have our boys purely as pets. Our experience is that you don't need to be a breeder and that a 'batchelor herd' can give much pleasure to the owner. We have 5 acres including our big garden and grazing for the boys, 15 miles north of Inverness, Scotland. I spin, knit, felt and crochet with the fleece from the boys.


Just a reminder that clicking on (most) of the photos will show them greatly enlarged.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Dyeing to learn

Yesterday I attended a one day workshop 'An introduction to dyeing using natural dyes made from local plant materials' run by Pat Forbes and Ada Grant of the Highland Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers (HGWSD) of which I am a member. We each had to take 8 - 10 small skeins of spun white wool/fleece so I used Fergus's for the purpose.  We dyed the skeins using a number of plant materials and the above shows my results (L to R) (1)Mushroom (Cortinarius) then dipped in an ammonia bath heightening the colour, (2) Buddleia leaves, (3) Marigold, (4) red cabbage then dipped in an ammonia bath, (5) Golden Rod, (6) Buddleia flowers, (7) Tree Lungwort  and (8) Onion skins.  All the plant materials can be found in the garden or countryside at this time of year.  An Alum Mordant was used (a Mordant allows the fibre to take on the dye) on all samples except the Tree Lungwort and the onion skins.  The samples shown above were still damp when the photo was taken but are brighter now that they have dried.  
These are some of Pat's samples which she brought to the workshop showing some of the lovely colours which she has achieved by using natural dyes.  The HGWSD can be found at http://www.hgwsd.co.uk/ and the Guild organises workshops, displays, events and exhibitions.
The season of mists and mellow fruitfulness is almost upon us and the apple trees are producing their fruit.  This means that the boys can have their daily apple tit-bits for the next few months until supplies run out.  Here are Wee Eck (L) and Faro asking for another slice of apple.  Interestingly when we started giving them apple a few days ago the older boys remembered the taste from last Autumn and started chomping on the apples straight away.  Wee Eck stood watching the other boys chewing and couldn't work out what they were eating!  Once he had had his first piece however, there was no stopping him.
Here is Faro (L) having to wait until Wee Eck eats yet another slice of apple.  In the background is Rufus, totally uninterested in apples at present but very interested in the good looking Alpaca he sees when he looks at the reflection in the window!

And finally.......in the evening we usually give the boys some hay and, like other meal times, they know when to queue up!  Here they are looking into the steading door knowing that at any minute the hay will be forthcoming.  Wee Eck is in the doorway (he's very nosey!), Faro is behind with just his head showing, Fyta is in the middle with Fergus behind and Gaucho is at the rear.


  1. What a fantastic...selection of natural colours...just goes to show what you can to...with things...growing..in the garden. The boys are looking well....and they are enjoying the apples !.....Jayne

  2. I love the dyed samples - especially the mushroon one - the colours are lovely! I will need to try our girls on some apple again - they weren't too keen last year!

  3. Great colours Shirley. I sent some raw fleece to be dyed using natural products prior to spinning last year...the cost...£23.50kg!! I think that I need to do the course.