Yesterday was my birthday, and J and I took a break from our unpacking extravaganza to enjoy the day. We had perfect weather: high of 82, no humidity, and tons of sunshine. J organized a lovely day for me, which I’m sure my readers here will appreciate.
After a delicious breakfast at a cool local eatery, we hopped in the car and drove about 30 minutes south to Amazin’ Grazin’ Alpaca Ranch. Angela, the ranch’s owner, gave us a tour of the grounds and let us in the pen with the animals. It was such a cool experience! I’ve been dreaming of owning a fiber farm for some time now, and this visit really solidified it for me. The alpacas were curious, gentle creatures, who flocked to investigate us at first and then went back to their business. I have a full photo set on Flickr, but I’ll warn you it brings some serious cute with it. We may have left with literature on alpaca ownership. Oops! After wandering around, we saw the fiber shop (chock full of alpaca fleeces), and I left with about 7-8 ounces of grey fiber from the herd sire. I can’t wait to try my hand at this.
After a lunch at home, we then headed to Allegan to visit Barb at Marr Haven. I bought two cones of their yarn, mule-spun from their organically raised Merino-Rambouillet cross flock, back at my first visit to the MI Fiber Festival in ’07. I started using it for a Central Park Hoodie, but I loved the yarn too much to force it into a gauge at which it wasn’t happy. I ripped it before the move, and still haven’t found a pattern to do it justice. The yarn is lanoliny, undyed, and just the best. Soft but very strong. Barb showed us around her shop, which carries not only their natural mule-spun but also some that has been dyed lovely, heathered colors, as well as some hand-dyed yarn (a skein of which came home with me). We got to wander out to the barn and see the flock, who were quite shy but also quite beautiful. Barb was the highlight of this visit for me: she is warm, personable, and really very funny. She answered all of our questions and took lots of time out of her busy day to show us around. I will definitely be going back for more of her yarn and her conversation.
I highly recommend visiting both of these places if you’re in the area, and visiting their online shops if you’re not. It was a day that made me feel grateful to live where I do; I feel so lucky to be able to visit these businesses first hand and support my local economy, as well as play with adorable fibery animals. I am also, of course, very grateful to have a husband who not only supports my fiber obsession but organizes entire days around it.
In other news, I started a Year in Pictures project on Flickr. I’ve been thinking about it for some time, and what better day to begin than my birthday? I’m approaching this as a fun project and a learning experience. I have a few goals: improve my photography skills, get more comfortable taking self-portraits, and don’t cop out with too many photos of my cats. I’m excited to get started!