Friday, July 3, 2015

Fiber Arts Friday: AOA National Fleece Conference

The new Alpaca Owner's Association (AOA) held it's First (hopefully annual) National Fleece Conference in Denver last weekend.

Since it was so close, there was little question as to whether I would attend.  Even without the schedule or session topics published, I was one of (if not the) first to register.  As fiber-producing animals, a viable commercial fleece market is essential to the alpaca industry and what I hoped would be covered to some degree.

My hopes were more than met.

The work that some of my alpaca brethren are doing is amazing.  The commercial demand for US Alpaca is there, both nationally and internationally.  We, as growers, are here.  The conduit between is immature, but appears to be working.

One of the Student Textile Design finalists using alpaca.

My goals for entering the alpaca industry has always had a commercial component.  Doing it after-hours has taken longer than I had hoped and of course the economic crash didn't help things.  But I left the conference feeling excited and energized.

I made a few contacts with people who are doing the kinds of things I've been looking for and I reconnected with other people I knew before we moved to our own farm.  So I still have a few emails to send and several documents and websites to read.

Over 500 fleeces entered in the fleece show, of which this is a very small selection.

I offered to give sessions about preparing for Shearing Day next time and Livestock Guardian Dogs (LGD) for another future event.  Which I've already started to draft.  ;-)

The Fashion Student Design winner and Designer's Choice using alpaca textiles.

If you are a designer, artist, manufacture, producer, grower, or even just fancier of alpaca, I urge you to attend next year's event.  It is well worth the time and expense.

To quote Wini Labrecque, one of the fleece judges; "This is a great step forward to be able to improve pricing and marketing abilities for fleece.  We all need to step out of the past and embrace this forward movement."

Happy Fiber Arts Friday!

1 comment:

Vivian said...

It'd be wonderful one day when the farm can sustain itself so you can be an alpaca producer full time. We need more high quality alpaca on the market, but for the fiber community and for general commercial use. Of course we love to hear stories about the pups any time :-)