How does a single mum go from the backyard blues to running an International Fibre House that is now Tasmania's largest spinning supplier?
It all began with a rather unusual wedding present from her new husband Barry – 2 Alpacas! But what was she to do with them?
Two years on, the "Mount Roland Alpaca Stud" in the Highlands of Tasmania produces the finest of Alpaca fleeces and supplies to an international market. Sue is now the proud owner of 18 Alpacas, 14 Angora Rabbits (including a pair of German Angoras which are rare in Australia) and 8 Tasmanian Cormo coloured sheep for fine fleece production. She even buys fine fleeces from other Tasmanian growers to help with the demand of a worldwide market for her hand spun yarns!
Sue has now given up her fulltime day job to concentrate on this business, which was launched in October 2009 and very quickly attracted local and international interest with orders flowing in daily. The Tasmanian House of Fibre (www.tasmaniafibre.com.au) supplies high quality, specialised yarns, the lastest of which are the beautiful, fine, luxurious, hand spun lace weight yarns – Mount Roland Silk ’n’ paca, Silk ’n’ Suri and Silk ’n’ Bunny.
Mount Roland Silk ’n’ paca is a fine lace weight hand spun yarn that is plied with natural silk. The Alpaca used is mainly from Sue’s own Alpaca Stud with some fleeces from other finely bred Tasmanian Alpacas. The yarn features natural colours but may also be enhanced with hand painted silk colourways.
Alpaca is light and very warm due to hollow fibres, the yarn is suited to lace weight scarves and wraps knitted on large needles or baby garments, this yarn is lovely to wear.
Mount Roland Silk ’n’ Suri is a very special and unique yarn. The Suri is also an Alpaca but instead of a fluffy coat the Suri has long silky lustrous locks. The yarn Silk ’n’ Suri is again plied with silk featuring natural colours and hand painted silk colourways.
Suri is a completely different fibre to work with, it has a long staple of 8 – 15 cm. When the Suri yarn is spun and plied with silk it is very good for garments that require drape, Suri is a heavy fibre compared to Alpaca and Angora rabbit. Suggested uses (I’m sure the fibre Artists out there will find many more) are, scarves, wraps, anything lacy, would be nice as an open lace over dress for a very spectacular wedding gown. Silk ‘n’ Suri should adapt well to cotton patterns.
Mount Roland Silk ’n’ Bunny – a real labour of love!
The rabbits are grown happily on the property, they have special five star accommodation that has been built just for them (by her loving Husband!), they are fed twice daily plus hay and water on demand. All cages are cleaned every 3 days and disinfected, floors are swept every day and washed.
The bunnies have special outdoor runs that they use to munch their way around the yard, so most days except when raining or high winds they are all taken out to their day runs and returned in the evening, grooming, chatting and clipping add to the hours of care.
Silk ’n’ Bunny is a beautiful, delicate, soft, luxury blend of hand spun lace weight English or German Angora and silk. It comes in natural colours of white, chocolate, smoke, gold/cream and some hand painted colourways of limited quantities. Angora rabbit fleece is extremely soft and warm and cuddly being a very low micron of 10 and under, again a hollow fibre, not a lot is needed for warmth.
Silk ’n’ Bunny makes a very soft, warm lacy scarf or wrap, is lovely used as a feature or trim on garments, e.g. cuffs, edging on hoods, baby booties to keep those little toes warm or mittens. The yarn as it is knitted produces a beautiful halo of soft fluffiness.
So with all the animal care, spinning, dyeing, website management and orders, managing a small band of spinners – her mum included, developing new lines and sourcing new supplies Sue has found she is now busier running her home based business than working 5 days a week – but she enjoys every minute of it and she loves chatting to her customers!
If you would like to know more or ask Sue a question, or just have a chat, you can contact her through her website at www.tasmanianfibre.com.au