Learning to Tame the Clouds

Let me explain…I have had an inexplicable urge to spin; to tame the billowing clouds of fiber stuffed in every corner. I am compelled by the love of texture, of color, the sheer serendipity, and pleasure of making something from a cloud.

Louet drum carder

Now that I am the proud owner of a Louet drum carder…things can move along at a much faster pace. Hand carding took lots of time (well, at least for me). Batts, rovings, and tops, oh my! I have lots and lots of llama fiber, a bag of Merino rovings, and I just agreed to purchase 3 bags of alpaca top! I am up to my ears in fiber…I am in heaven’s clouds.


You see, fine wools blend well with other fine wools; so I am able to create even more new and exciting possibilities…adding the wool to alpaca and llama gives it an elasticity without sacrificing the sensuous softness inherent to the camelid fiber. Just think of the limitless possibilities and the projects to create.

sweet duo

Knowing that the winter days are short; I can be happy I have more evenings in which to indulge my fiber love. And maybe more tea too.

turnings..of my Kromski Wheel

Not only is spinnig a fantastic creative outlet; there is a connection to the past, when women spun out of necessity,for survival. I, however, just spin for the love of it.

Lilia's fiber...<3

What is the difference in Llamas and alpacas, you ask? They are both from the camelid family. Their inclusion in this family is based upon their characteristic traits of being hornless, cud-chewing ruminants with an even number of toes and padded feet. But unlike cattle,(another ruminant)llamas have only one stomach but it is divided into three parts.

Our Bandit (now Dr. Cohen's) ...the first cria born on our farm.

Llamas have front teeth only on the bottom jaw and a toothless upper jaw, like a gum. Their gentle disposition, need for minimal care, and ability to adapt to a variety of climates makes them an easy species for which to care.
Llamas are larger than alpacas, standing 40–45 inches at the withers and 5.5 to 6 feet or taller at the head. They can weigh between 280 and 450 pounds and the average lifespan is 15 to 30 years. Females usually begin breeding at 15–18 months and males at two and a half years. A llama’s normal gestation is 350 days, giving birth to a single cria (pronounced creeah). Crias are usually born during daylight hours and weigh between 20–35 pounds. Within an hour post-parturition, the cria is standing and nursing from its dam. Average weaning age is 4–6 months.


Alpacas weigh about 100 to 175 pounds and stand about three feet at the withers. Their life span is about 15–25 years. A female alpaca is usually bred at 14–16 months and a male reaches full maturity in two to three years. The average gestation is 335 days and a cria may weigh 15–19 pounds. Alpacas generally have little trouble during parturition and the cria is usually found nursing after the first hour. Twins are rare and there is a low infant mortality rate. Alpaca mothers are very devoted and protective towards their young.

Llamas and alpacas share some characteristics. They both communicate through their posture and through ear and tail movements. Aggressive modes of communication are foot stamping, kicking, and spitting. Both have two toes on each foot, with a leathery pad on the bottom. They are social creatures and do best when pastured together. Both llamas and alpacas are induced ovulators, exhibiting no heat cycle. Ovulation occurs approximately 24–36 hours post-breeding, enabling them to be bred at any time during the year. Heat stress may be a problem… so ours are bred during cooler months for this reason.

Maeve and Andy

KatDoll...strike a pose


There are a few differences between llamas and alpacas, including size, ear shape, hair, fleece, and back curvature. The alpacas have shorter noses and more symmetrical, pearshaped ears, while llamas’ ears are longer and banana shaped. Most alpacas have a full “top knot” or “hair-do.” Their fleece is dense over all parts of their body and the alpaca’s back has a slight upward curve, while the llama’s back is straight.

Kat Doll on action...at a fair

Be well,

I have so much that I want to explore…next blog: There are many reasons to dye; but one should not fear to enter the realm.(Organic dyes of course); or perhaps..Show your true colors.

9 thoughts on “Learning to Tame the Clouds

  1. Thank you for telling us the difference. I read that all twice so that I was sure. it is the alpaca that I like. Really i am jealous of your spinning wheel I cannot find one out here and i just will buy one on ebay sight useen. I will have to wait until I am next in NZ and buy one there. I also have some lovely fleeces wrapped and waiting.. Though it is years and years since I spun. looking forward to the dying now! c.


  2. I smiled through your entire post! Congratulations on your louet carder; I still have my aunt’s on loan indefinitely (or as she said, keep it as long as you want). Fiber is a fascinating journey and I too have found that I cannot get enough! I’m not partial to regular yarn, as you know, but I do card some of the llama (so pretty!) and wrap locks around it when I spin. Sometimes I just hold the batts because…just because they feel so wonderful. I know you understand that. Enjoy and thank you for sharing it all so beautifully!


  3. What sweet faces on these lovely creatures. And I have to say, I’m totally impressed that you spin their wool. I admire your way of life.

    And I’ve added an award to your collection – the Candle Lighter. Enjoy!


  4. Just adopted 3 llamas who were being rehomed. They are teaching us as we explain to them how to get along. How did I get along without them?


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