by Alison Notley and Debbie Braunlich
by Alison Notley and Debbie Braunlich
South Africa celebrated its second National Alpaca Day at the end of April with farms and studs in five of the country?s provinces opening their gates to members of the public. Coordinated by the South African Alpaca Breeders? Society, National Alpaca Day has become an awareness day; a day when people can visit farms, touch, feel and lead alpacas, see the products made from alpaca fibre and learn how the fledgling industry in our country is developing. Even some of the more outlying farms received 50 plus visitors, some having driven for over two hours while several hundred clocked in at some of the larger studs.
The alpaca industry as a whole in South Africa has had a big publicity drive in the past few months which has resulted in alpaca stories and editorials in two April inflight magazines, British Airways? Highlife being one of them, national newspapers, agricultural publications and glossy lifestyle magazines ... even radio interviews. This has paid off as many members of SAABS are receiving enquiries from prospective new alpaca breeders and we hope it will boost the industry.
We are very fibre oriented in South Africa with the emphasis very much on the production of alpaca items for the luxury market, be they knitted, woven or felted garments, blankets, rugs or alpaca-filled duvets. Two alpaca collections exhibited in the Western Cape on National Alpaca Day included Helderstroom Alpacas? Spirit of Helderstroom label and Stonehill Originals - two very different styles of end product, one using pure alpaca and the other skilfully combining alpaca with other luxurious fibres such as silk, cashmere and merino. Both use fibre processed from their own herds of alpacas.
Pic of Swiss-darned toddler gilet Pic of Helderstroom?s flagship multiway ?Pacajac?
Helderstroom Alpacas concentrates on hand-knit and hand-woven products from fibre hand-spun by two local ladies both trained to spin by Helderstroom?s owner Alison Notley. Alison admits that although she taught both Brenda Willemse and Theresa Jansen to spin using traditional Ashford wheels, she cannot better their skills when it comes to competition time. For five consecutive years Brenda and Theresa have brought back to Helderstroom the trophy for the best hand spun yarn in the Western Cape. Whether yarns are flecked, streaky, variegated or solid colours all are hand-spun. Alison explains that Helderstroom also specialises in Swiss darning techniques especially on toddler clothes, as illustrated.
Pic of Shawl-collar jacket in hand-spun flecked yarn
in black and white Pic of Alpaca tunic top in black and ?gold?
Stonehill Originals, owned by Debbie Braunlich, create unique non-woven (felt) and hybrid, nuno-felt, textiles from luxurious alpaca harvested from her own herd and other natural fibres using a FeltLoom, which are then transformed into classic fashion, one-off tailored designs as well as home decor items. Alpaca is used either solely in a garment or with a combination of natural textiles, high-quality woollen worsteds, linens, silks or cottons, dependent on the design and client specifications. The approach in creating a Stonehill Originals? garment embraces textural variation with an aim to elevate a garment from an aesthetic point of view.
(This caption to accompany photo of blonde model in grey cape sitting at base of a tree in forest):- The waist-length cape featured below is made from a merino/mohair herringbone blend; woollen fabric and edged with luxurious silver-grey alpaca felt which gives the garment a theatrical ?swing? as the wearer walks.
(This caption to accompany photo of dark haired model, at fashion show, looking straight into camera):-
Stonehill Originals? ?cocoon? coat was made for a fashion show in the US and reflects the hues of our Cedarberg mountains in the Cape with hints of bushmen paintings in the felt.
Alpaca is the main fibre used with Tussah silk adding the reflective aspect, the sparkly bits, that would be found in our mountain rock faces. The sleeves and hood are made from boucle knitted pure alpaca.
(this caption to accompany photo of blonde model wearing fawn and white coat and leaning against tree in forest):-
This classic Stonehill Original?s tailored trenchcoat is made from felted alpaca and merino wools and lined with Italian linen.