Basics

Feature Friday #9

We’ve been so busy here on the farm, that Feature Friday slipped right by us, so we’re extending it to Saturday!   Our feature this week is one of our cornerstone products.  Each animal here on the farm contributes fiber to our products, and we try to honor that contribution by showcasing that particular animal in their YARN!  Although it isn’t always the easiest, or most cost efficient way to have yarn produced, we choose to process most of our fiber by animal.  There is nothing like having a customer purchase a skein of yarn from their favorite animal, and then come back with their finished product to take a picture with that animal!  If you purchase a handmade item from our store, you know the story of the animal behind it, and chances are you’ve met that animal during your visit.  Each one of these items are truly one of a kind, and it all starts with the yarn.

 

We offer our yarn in 200 yard hanks of DK/Sport weight and a few in fingering weight, in both Suri and Huacaya.  We offer yarn in an array of natural colors, as well as exclusive, indie dyed semi solids, tonals, and colorways.  Our dyed yarn is for sale only on a limited basis, and in small runs, so if you see one you love grab it while it is in stock!

Great handmade items start with great yarn, great yarn comes from great fiber, and great fiber comes from happy, healthy, fabulous animals.  We are proud to be home to a herd that embodies that idea.  Stop by and pick up a skein ( or two or twelve!) of our yarn produced right here in Tennessee; meet the animal who created that gorgeous, squishy goodness, and take home a bit of alpaca magic for your self!

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Categories: Alpaca, Arts & Crafts, Basics, Crochet, Feature Friday, fiber, Knitting, Media, Pick TN, Products, Shop, Shop local, Shop Small, weaving, yarn | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Feature Friday #4

Friday is here, and with it another post in our Feature Friday series!  You can catch up with our previous posts HERE , HERE, and HERE .

Today we’ve chosen to highlight another of our personal favorite products, and one of the reasons we didn’t hesitate to make the jump into alpacas:  SOCKS!

If you were to ask any of us here on the farm what our #1 must have alpaca product would be ,I would be willing to bet you’d hear socks.

David and I bought our first pairs of alpaca socks from a fledgling alpaca farm over 16 years ago!  The price seemed high to us, but we wanted to help a local farmer out, so we each bought two $18.00 pairs of socks, and David grabbed a pair of glove liners.  Those socks were one of the best investments we’ve ever made!  David “retired” a pair of his socks about a year ago when they finally wore out in the heel.  He still wears the other pair on a regular basis.  I still have both of my pairs, but one is starting to look a little thin.  We didn’t care for them in any special way, we just threw them in the washer and dryer with our other laundry and went about our day.  The glove liners were in perfect condition right up until last year when David cut them while working on a fence.  Our $72.00 investment (not counting the glove liners) into what we thought were the most expensive socks we’ve ever owned, has turned out to be $4.50 a YEAR and counting.   Not too shabby for socks that have kept us comfortable and cozy for many a season.  We couldn’t believe a pair of  “luxury” socks could last that long, and actually do what we were told they would do.

Jump forward to today, and we are still amazed at our lowly little alpaca socks. They are cool in the summer, and warm in the winter.  They wick moisture away from the body better than any other socks I have owned.  They feel good on!   They don’t bunch up in my shoes and don’t rub my heel. Even after long days in hot weather they remain odor free.  They are durable, and easy to care for.  I still throw all of my socks in the washer and dryer.  No special care needed.    If you read our fiber facts post last week, you know all of this is due to the alpaca fiber itself.

I wear a pair daily, whether on the farm or in my “other” job.  My feet stay comfortable year round.  I have pairs that are great with my tennis shoes, muck boots, hiking boots, barn boots , dress socks, and just to lounge around the house in.  David has pairs specifically designated for hunting and fishing, and everyday wear.  Each one of the kids have a pair or two or twenty!

Our socks have come a long way since that fledgling alpaca farm sold us some!  We carry socks for every need and in multiple price ranges, colors, and styles.  We sell socks to runners, hikers, skiers, nurses, doctors, EMTs, office workers, construction workers, teachers, attorneys, and more!  They make an amazing gift for yourself or for someone special.  We’ve even had them featured in raffle prizes!

If you see us out and about, ask us about our socks!  If you’d like to grab your first pair, or you 50th pair, let us know and you can stop by the farm store.  If you’re not local, we’d be happy to send pictures of our stock and walk you through finding the right pair.

We proudly carry socks made in the US out of US alpaca fiber, but we also proudly carry socks made in Peru out of Peruvian fiber.  Socks aren’t one size fits all, and our supply shouldn’t be either.

Categories: Alpaca, Basics, Feature Friday, fiber, Media, Pick TN, Products, Shop, Shop local, Shop Small | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Feature Friday!

This week it is all about the FIBER!  

If you have ever visited us on the farm, in our store, or at an event, you know we love to talk fiber, so in this Feature Friday let’s talk about the star of the show: Alpaca Fiber.

We hear it all the time and at every event- “What’s so great about alpaca fiber?”  Sometimes you might hear us answer, “what’s NOT great about alpaca fiber?”

Alpaca fiber has been called “The Fiber of the Gods”, as it was traditionally reserved for wear by royalty only in the Inca culture. It is soft, luxurious and sustainable; truly a fiber fit for a king.

In all truth, alpaca fiber has some amazing qualities.  Let’s break those down.

Warmth:

Alpaca fiber is warm! According to Yocum-McCall:

“In the Yocum-McCall Testing Laboratories, alpaca was shown to be three times warmer than sheep’s wool. Why? One reason is that alpaca is more heavily medullated: in other words, there are tiny hollow areas in the centers of many individual alpaca fibers. These areas hold the warmth and, in addition, make alpaca lighter in weight than other animal fibers. Another study showed that if worn in a 0 degree F environment, alpaca would give a 50 degree F comfort range. Sheep’s wool would provide a 30 degree F comfort range in the same environment.”

 

Strong:

Fiber strength is defined in two ways

  • Tensile strength: the resistance of a material to breaking under tension (force is applied parallel to fabric – Think holes in suits due to pressure being applied parallel to the fabric)
    • The tensile strength of alpaca is equal to 50 N/ktex  In comparison, the tensile strength of sheep’s wool is 35-40 N/ktex
  • Shear strength : the ability of a material to resist external load against failure (force is applied perpendicular to fabric -Think holes in socks, due to repeated pressure applied perpendicular to the fabric)

Alpaca fiber excels in both areas! Which leads us to our next category.

Durable:

Alpaca is extremely durable and low pilling.  Alpaca is able to meet 15,000 cycles of abrasion, which meets upholstery standard.

Durable fabric lasts longer!  Alpaca fiber will hold up to repeated wearing better, and still look great.

Water Resistant:

One of the greatest characteristics of alpaca is its ability to be naturally water resistant, no special treatments required!  The alpaca fiber is also excellent at wicking moisture, with a water retention rate of 8% vs. most other wool at 16%-20%.

Wool is more likely to become heavy and saturated when wet, as it can absorb up to 35-50% of its weight in liquid.  After this saturation occurs, which can lead to increased discomfort, odor, and the likely hood of blisters.

According to the Gaston Fiber College, alpaca wicks, but does not absorb.  That makes alpaca more comfortable in ALL seasons.  Warmer in the winter, and cooler in the summer.  It also makes alpaca fiber naturally odor resistant.

Water resistance also leads to STAIN resistance!  Alpaca fiber is less likely to stain because of the unique qualities of the fiber itself.

Fire Retardant:

Yep.  You read that right.  Alpaca is naturally fiber retardant, meeting the standards of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission’s rigid testing specifications as a Class 1 fiber for use in clothing and furnishings. (Class 1 is the safest level for flame resistance.) Alpaca self extinguishes, and will not melt or stick to skin during a fire.

 Colors:

Alpaca comes in a wide range of natural colors, more than another other fiber animal out there  In the US, there are 16 officially recognized colors (white; beige; and  3 shades of fawn , 3 of brown,  2 of black, and 6 of grey) and a multitude of shades in between.

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If you would like a color not found naturally, alpaca readily accepts dye without losing the luster and brightness it is known for.

Low Allergenic:

  • Alpaca is naturally lanolin free.
    • Some people who where believed to be allergic to wools were allergic to lanolin.  Others have been found allergic to the chemicals used to remove lanolin from the wool, and not the wool or lanolin itself.
  • The “prickle factor,” where thick and/or hollow fibers of around 30 microns can prick the skin, causing rashes, discomfort, and other reactions, thereby making some wools very uncomfortable to wear.
    •   Some people who were believed to be allergic to lanolin, were instead reacting to the “prickle factor.”

Although some people who feel they cannot wear wool find that they can wear alpaca comfortably, there is not enough evidence to substantiate a claim that alpaca is hypoallergenic.  Alpaca is low-allergenic.

 

Now that you have the low down on some of  what makes alpaca fiber so great, make plans to visit us to see the fiber in person!  We’d be happy to show you how we go from barn to yarn, and everything in between.

 

 

 

Categories: Alpaca, Arts & Crafts, Basics, Feature Friday, fiber, Pick TN, Products, Sale, Shop, Shop local, Shop Small, yarn | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Feature Friday!

One of the things we learned during this year’s National Alpaca Farm Days, is that as an industry, we haven’t done a great job at highlighting WHY alpaca fiber is so wonderful, and what uses there are for it.  To remedy this, we’ve decided to start Feature Friday!

Every Friday, we will feature either a product or a fiber fact to showcase how versatile alpaca is and just what we do with all that fiber!

Today we are kicking off with one of our top selling , but also one of our most overlooked products:

Dryer Balls 1

While they may not look like much, we’ve had customers tell us these are “life changing”!

What are they? Alpaca Dryer Balls!  These lowly little items are cost effective, efficient, sustainable, renewable,  all natural, and best of all, they WORK!

One package of 100% alpaca dryer balls:

  • Reduce drying time by absorbing the moisture from your laundry
  • Provide a natural alternative to chemical filled dryer sheet or fabric softener
  • 100% Alpaca – hard felted and hand made
  • Great for sensitive skin/babies
  • Reduces wrinkles, static, and helps collect lint
  • Can add 4-5 drops of essential oils for scent. Oils last approx. 4 loads

Alpaca dryer balls can also save wear and tear on your dryer and clothing!  Conventional dryer sheets deposit a quaternary ammonium salt or a silicone oil based fabric softener. The heat of the dryer softens the fabric softener and allows the coating to transfer to fabrics. It is this coating that makes clothes feel softer to the touch.  This coating can reduce the moisture absorbing ability of cotton or micofiber towels, and the moisture wicking ability of athletic wear.

Just as the dryer sheets leave a residue on your clothing that makes the fabric feel softer, they also leave residue in your dryer. Their residue may cause the screen of the lint filter to become partially clogged or the electronic moisture sensor to be coated with residue and  reduce air circulation. Good circulation is essential to getting clothes dried properly and helping to prevent overheating,  which can lead to fires.

Alpaca dryer balls are easy to use!

No need to remove, just re use again and again.

Fiber is Forever!  Dryer balls can last years!

Washable, just add to wash load, then dry (recommended for first use)

Naturally dry along with laundry

These are just a few of the reasons we love our alpaca dryer balls!  Want more information on our dryer balls?  Want to purchase a set for your self or as a gift?  Send us an email at rockingchairfarmalpacas@gmail.com or come by the farm store!  We’d be happy to help you decide!

 

 

 

Categories: Alpaca, Arts & Crafts, Basics, Feature Friday, Pick TN, Products, Sale, Shop | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A New Year and some New Faces!

Hello again folks!  All the critters here at Rocking Chair Farm have had a wonderful start to the new year, and as we head into February, we are are looking forward to what 2017 has in store for our little slice of heaven.

At the beginning of January, we added a few new faces to our herd.  We feel very blessed to have added 4 Suri alpacas to the the property.  The boys increased by one, as we added SBS Crown Prince Friedel (Freidel).  The ladies increased by 3 lovely suri ladies: GLR Pomona (Pomona), Pearl’s Miri by Accoyo Axel (Miri) and Firecracker Jackie (Firecracker).  They also made room for Maggie and Madison a mother/daughter team of llamas.  Everyone has settled in, so we thought the time was right for a few candid photos of our newest herd members, as well as a few shots of the original crew!

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We are busy preparing for shearing, and a few spring cria ,as well as improvements to the farm and additions to the farm store.  The herd will also have official individual photos and information updates added.

Thank you again for stopping by!

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Holiday Happenings

Hello all!

Faber’s birthday bash was a resounding success!  Our little guy enjoyed all of his friends and fans stopping by to see him and wishing him well.  It was a cold and blustery day, but the critters didn’t seem to mind.  They were all very pleased with the extra treats that Faber’s big day supplied for everyone!

We have finished our last open barn for this year, but we will be open for last minute holiday gifts.  If you find yourself in need of some of our cuddly alpaca yarn, give us a call, text, email or send us a message on social media and we will do our best to help you get what you need.  If you would like alpaca goodness shipped to a special person and are out of state or unable to come by the farm, we would be happy to help in that respect as well.

In other news, the flock has been enjoying the wet weather we are finally receiving.  They spend most of their day out in the fields pecking at worms and bugs that have sprung to life with the rain.  All of the hens are now laying and we receive between 5-7 eggs /day in an assortment of colors.  Henry, the rooster, keeps busy watching over his girls and finding yummy treats for his favorite hens.  He has decided Farmer David is lots of fun, and asks to be carried around and hugged often.

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The alpacas are also enjoying the cooler weather and rain.  They spend most of the day in the barn and the evenings enjoying the fields.  They are all getting ready for the holidays and the new year when we will open the barn back up for more visitors.  They are also working a a very special treat for their fans, that we will introduce soon!

Until then,

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The final countdown…

The folks and the critters here at the farm have all been busy, busy, busy!  Farmer David has been cleaning up fence rows, fields and the barn, the alpacas have been busily munching down their fields, the chickens have been on bug patrol, Ross, the barn kitty, is keeping varmints away and Mason, the Wonder Dog, is in charge of security.  Momma Christine has been experimenting with handmade soaps, organizing the medical supplies and heading up the media.  We are a little crew, but we do mighty things!

All of this is happening so we can welcome folks to our little slice of heaven this weekend for National Alpaca Farm Days, and we are in the final countdown (do you hear the music??  Is it stuck in your brain yet?  You can thank me for that this weekend).

We will open our gates and our barn doors to the public, no appointment necessary, on Saturday, Sept 24th from 10 am to 6 pm and again on Sunday, Sept. 25th from Noon until 5 pm.  We will have yarn from our animals on hand, raw fiber from this years clip, and  be taking pre orders on alpaca socks, felted soaps, scarves, gloves, etc for the Christmas holidays.  We will be giving tours through the fields at the top of every hour, and if you would like to bring a chair and  knitting, crochet, weaving, spinning gear, reading, etc we will have a spot for you to sit with the herd while you craft and relax.

We look forward to seeing our old friends and meeting our online and new friends.  See you this weekend!

**Please remember we are a working farm so we have dirt, dust, bugs and more! We recommend closed toe shoes if you wish to enter the fields.  We do not have restroom facilities (unless you’re an alpaca).**

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National Alpaca Farm Days!

Rocking Chair Farm will be participating again in 2016!  Come visit the farm Saturday, September 24th from 10-6 or on Sunday, September 25th from 12-5.  Our critters all love visitors, and they are hoping to meet some of their followers.  We will have extra treats on hand, and they have seen us bring them into the barn…

Check out the video below, then make plans to come and visit the farm.

Why visit for Farm Days?

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Changing and growing

Our little flock has changed a bit in the last month or so.  We have had two young roosters leave and go to new homes and added a hen and two young pullets to our flock.  Our newest additions are Penny, Rose and Bella.  All three of our new girls are Rhode Island Reds.

With the new additions, there was a bit of a shake up in the flock’s pecking order but all seems to have been worked out and the flock is cohesive once again.

Henry, our remaining rooster has finally learned to crow!  He lets everyone know when it is time to wake up and start the day, but he is very concientious of our neighbors, so he crows at a level that won’t disturb them.  He gathers the ladies nightly, and hustles them back into the coop and waits for us to shut the door.  Once everyone is inside, he takes the highest roost and settles in for the night.

We never would have thought we would enjoy this critters quite as much as we do, but they have truly added a new dimension to the farm.  The alpacas are quite enamoured with them still, and Mason, the Wonder Dog, takes guarding them just as seriously as guarding his herd.

Pictures to follow soon!

 

 

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New Additions

WOW!  Who would have thought when we started the farm two years ago we would have 300+ Facebook followers and 200+ Instagram followers?  Not us, that’s for sure!  It humbles and amazes us that folks bring us into their busy lives on a regular basis and share our stories with their friends and families.  Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.

In addition to our newest followers (did you see what I did there? In ADDITION?  I crack myself up sometimes) we have some new faces on the farm we would like to introduce. Continue reading

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