Visit Silk Wool Fleece Store

It was a beautiful weekend for everybody in the area. The weekend became even more delightful for the visitors of Alpaca Festival hosted by Double G Alpacas Ranch.

Preceded by a rainy Friday, the following weekend was one of the rare occasions in the desert of Southern Arizona. The tree leaves and grasses became deep green and glabrous after the long shower. And the horizon was slightly hazy from the retaining humidity in the clean air.

Refreshed by the long-awaited rain and well-rested, we headed to the Festival on Saturday morning. The few-mile drive seemed so long in anticipation to visiting the beautiful animals and people who raise them.

Arriving at Double G Alpacas Ranch

When we finally arrived to our destination, the owner’s mother chaperoned us on her golf cart to our parking spot. When we got out of the car, we took a first look around. Our surroundings looked very comfortable, cheerful, and welcoming.

After the greeting, I politely asked for a permission to take some photos on the property for my blog. We received a cheerful welcome not only by the hosts, but by the visitors as well.

The atmosphere on the farm was so friendly and relaxed that we felt we could spend all day walking around, watching and petting the animals, and socializing with the crowd visiting the farm.

Image: Double G Alpaca Ranch Pavilions
First look around Double G Alpacas farm.

The area designated for visitors has several pavilions where you can see the farm animals. Among the pavilions, you can also find small park-like patches with benches, tables, and pergolas where you can sit back and relax in the shade. Such a welcoming arrangement and a real oasis in the sunny Arizona desert!

Double G Alpacas farm is a true paradise on earth. Eager to explore every pavilion, meet with the owners, vendors, and other visitors, we moved on towards the biggest attraction, the Alpaca pavilion.

Celebrating Alpaca Festival at the Pavilion

Entering the pavilion, we were greeted by a small herd of cuddly little angora goats.

Image: Angora goats
Angora goats on the ranch

The pavilion itself comprises several shaded paddocks holding three-to-four alpacas in each pen. The animals were completely calm and confident in the presence of the human crowd. In fact, I was wondering if the alpaca festival was arranged for the wondering humans to visit the alpacas or the the confident animals to socialize with the humans. The feeling of harmony and order was permeating the air. Everything was in the right place.

Image: Alpaca
Look how graceful this alpaca is!

When we entered the alpaca pavilion, the owner of Double D Alpacas was giving a tour to the visitors and answering their questions. We bypassed the tourists while taking photos of the alpacas in their paddocks.

Passing the tourists, I couldn’t help, but overhear some questions asked by the visitors and the guide’s answers. I was pleasantly surprised to learn how closely our knowledge of alpacas and their fleeces coincide. It felt like we went to the same school to learn about alpacas. It appears that the knowledge about the animals, their fleeces, and what a fiber artist can do with them if quite uniform amongst people who care about these majestic animals.

Alpacas are Camelids

When you visit an alpaca farm, you need to watch out when you pet or photograph them, or even approach them closely. The reason is that alpacas may give you a warning spit if they feel that their personal space is invaded. When I was photographing the alpacas, Rigel watched out for the signs of the surrounding animals. When they plan to spit at you, they aim and purse their lips. Rigel warned me a couple times, and I had to jump away and protect my camera lens from such an unwanted encounter.

The spitting behavior is common for all camelids. Alpacas belong to the Camelidae family. You can read about camelids in my post about vicunas and their golden fleece.

Double G Alpacas

Alpaca Pavilion at the Ranch

The alpaca paddocks had another adjacent corral with horses. But last weekend was dedicated to the alpacas while the horses enjoyed their privacy and solitude on the ranch.

Shops and Attractions on the Ranch

After visiting the alpaca pavilion, we moved on to the shops and other attractions.

The first pavilion that immediately caught our attention was the cozy and shaded chicken pen and coop.

Image: Chicken pen at Double G Alpacas farm.

The chickens were hiding in the shade of their coop at the time I was taking the pictures. Their pen is so cozy and nicely decorated!

K&L Fibers Indie Yarn Dyeing Company

Moving on, we met Kristen and London at K&L Fibers, an indie yarn dyeing company from Veil, AZ. Their natural yarns and blends are so bright and cheerful!

Centsfuldesign Fiber Arts Accessories

After a nice visit with the shop owners, we visited another kiosk occupied by Centsfuldesign boutique. Audrey, the store owner shared with us a cord braiding technique and needle felting.

This ingenious wooden tool in the photo below is used to braid a seven-strand cord with a variety of colors and textures.

Image: cord braiding back

The next picture shows the resulting cord.

Image: braided cord

This cord has so many decorative and functional uses. You can make it for your cowgirl hat, to decorate a wool vest, to use as a delicate belt cinched around your waste. You can use it to make a hanging basket for a planter or decorate a pillow. The possibilities are endless!

Next, Audrey demonstrated how she makes needle felt toys and ornaments. Can you imagine hanging this alpaca fleece mouse in a white-blue cape on a Christmas tree, or use it as a key chain? I can’t wait for Audrey to finish this adorable project!

Image: Audrey demonstrates needle felting.
Audrey is demonstrating needle felting.

Audrey has so many beautiful items and project kits in her boutique. I especially like the bamboo crochet hooks and the yarn bowls pictured below.

Image: Yarn bowls

Alpaca Fiber Demo Station

I didn’t want to leave Audrey shop, but it was time to move on. We headed next to the alpaca fiber processing demo station set up by LeRoy, the co-owner of Double G Alpacas.

When I heard LeRoy’s presentation about Alpacas at the pavilion earlier, I was pleasantly surprised by the close match of our knowledge about alpacas. This time, LeRoy was demonstrating how the alpaca fibers are processed from the raw fleece stage to yarn. The equipment, the chosen process, and even the color of the alpaca fleece is strikingly similar with my own process. Take a look at my post, Hoof to Hanger: How Alpaca Fleece Becomes Clothing to see the resemblance.

While describe my farm-to-fashion work in my diary posts, LeRoy explains and demonstrates the process live.

Image: Fiber processing demonstration station
The setup from right to left: washed alpaca fleece, the picker that separates fibers, the carder (above), and the resulting batt of alpaca fleece (below) ready for spinning.

In the image below, LeRoy shows the visitor how the fiber picker works.

Image: LeRoy demonstrates the fleece picker.

He explains the entire transformation of fibers from fleece to yarn.

Image: LeRoy explains fiber process

This is absolutely amazing!

Alpaca Store

Moving on from the demo station, we end up at the shop where you can view and purchase the final alpaca and wool items. The shop is open for visitors all year round.

Image: Double G Alpaca shop.

Inside the store, we found a variety of clothing, toys and ornaments, yarn, and even wool-processing equipment.

Everything wool-related can be found in this little alpaca store.

Image: Alpaca shop
Image: Wool garments at  the alpaca store
Wool garments and toys at the Alpaca Store
Image: Natural dyes collage
This pretty collage demonstrates the natural dyes that can be used with alpaca yarn and the resulting colors. Aren’t they beautiful!? Navajo tea is my favorite. What’s your favorite? Let me know in the comments below.
Image: Homespun natural alpaca yarns
Natural yarn color of the brown alpaca
Image: alpaca yarns with natural dyes
Alpaca fibers dyes with natural pigments

At the Alpaca Store, we met with Joni who was attending the customers. During our conversation with Joni, we were surprised by how many common fiber- and travel-related interests we have.

Joni was very busy with her customers. So, we decided not to interfere too much and decided to wrap up our visit.

Tangled Yarn Farms

The Alpaca Store was the last stop at the ranch. We packed our camera and went back to the car. After farewells with the owner’s Mom, we headed toward the exit.

But as soon as we left the parking lot, we saw another pavilion with a gorgeous angora rabbit. We got out of the car and met with the cheerful attendant.

Julie is the owner of Tangled Yarn Farms. She let us play and pet her very tame angora rabbit and shared with us about her farm. Julie raises angora rabbits, goats, and wool sheep. What a lucky find! I will visit Julie’s farm for my next purchase of fleeces.

Ah, too bad, we packed our bulky camera equipment. We didn’t have a chance to take some pictures of Julie’s fuzzy creature. Well we have more reasons to visit her farm after she returned from her workshop trip to the northeastern states. Have a safe and enjoyable trip, Julie! We will see you when you return.

Our participation in the Alpaca Festival at Double G Alpacas came to an end. Reluctantly, we left this beautiful slice of Heaven in the harsh Arizona desert. Filled with great memories and new friends, we will be coming back!

Thank you LeRoy and Paula for hosting such an unforgettable event!

Rigel and Kimberly

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