Our featured maker today is dear to my heart, as she is a fellow Ohio gal, AND I’ve used her magnificent fiber many times myself. (This is Co-Host Beth Meyer speaking! ) Please welcome Julie from Alpaca Meadows! It’s so fun to have her here on the blog, sharing pictures of her sweet alpacas, and telling the story of her own fiber art journey. Read on for more about Julie, and stop by her Etsy shop for the most scrumptious spinning supplies in the Midwest!
My name is Julie Petty, and along with my husband Matt, we are the owners of Alpaca Meadows. We have been raising alpacas in Mansfield, Ohio, since 2002.
Never did I dream I’d be raising alpacas when “I grew up”, but I fell in love with these magical creatures after visiting an alpaca farm with our children. Seems now like it might have been part of the plan. I could write a book of heartwarming and a few heart wrenching stories about our alpacas, some comical ones too considering we knew nothing about raising livestock at the time. What a journey it has been and what a gift to have this passion for alpacas and my “work” today!
Always with a need to nurture my creative side, enjoying crafts, working with my hands, trying all kinds of art forms from quilting to woodworking and many, many things in between, the fiber arts are a perfect fit for me. It is very rewarding to actually deliver the baby and nurture the animal that produces the fiber for the items that I create and sell. Working with the soft, silky, luxurious fiber is definitely a perk, safer than woodworking too!
I wanted first to learn to spin, had no interest at that time in processing the fiber myself, so had some of our fiber made into roving at a local mill. Today I don’t often spin from roving, but right from the locks for a very textured “alpaca art yarn”. I spin on a Louet wheel, the same one on which I learned.
A friend taught me to knit, but then I picked up crochet which I had done as a young girl, found it less frustrating and quicker. Today I go back and forth between the two, still preferring crochet but glad I can do both when I want to change things up a bit.
I then got interested in dyeing, which I’ll dig into again when the weather warms. I can open the garage door in my fiber studio, get water a little easier than I can in the winter, and be able to lay fiber in the sun to dry. I dye some of our own “farm yarn” if it doesn’t sell first. I dye lots and lots of raw fiber, selling it to spinners, doll makers, felters, and fiber artists.
Needle felting is especially fun, especially three dimensional characters, and pumpkins in the Fall with over emphasized facial features. Wet felting is super fun! I have made purses, mittens, jewelry, and flowers using the wet felting technique. I often wet felt pre-felts for use in other projects.
Though I sometimes feel like a “jack of all trades, master of none”, I started teaching classes because customers kept asking. That has been fun. It is especially fun when a group of friends comes for a class, laugh, learn, and create something that they didn’t know they could create. One of my customers referred to The Fiber Studio as a “secret treasure”. It is solace for her, time out from the stressors of life, and a get-away where creativity happens!
I start my day with some quiet time, a cup of coffee, and either some crocheting or knitting. I then move to my spinning room for my second cup of coffee, still in my pajamas mind you! If office work and the computer totally consume my day, I at least have started it by doing things I enjoy. I sell my wares at fiber shows, have a small store here at the farm, and have an online store. We often host groups for farm visits, to see and learn about alpacas.
I love sitting in the pasture on a warm day just watching the alpacas, perhaps with my crocheting, always with a camera as that is the best way to get good alpaca pictures. I love sitting in the barn when it is bedded with straw for winter, just observing. There is a peace about being with these beautiful creatures that God has blessed us with – it just doesn’t get much better than this!