Spinning Spotlight: Stone Spindle Farm does Alpaca

How does Ontario’s own Stone Spindle Farm do alpaca? The short answer is: superbly.

In order of my growing admiration since 2021: full marks for the farm’s name; Beth’s warm Instagram account; the raw locks; the rolags & finally, the mill-prepped alpaca top.

The raw locks

Raw Alpaca locks in a cardboard box with an Andean low-whorl drop spindle holding a cop of handspun yarn with the handcombed fibre supply at the top left corner.
8 ounces of prime Alpaca locks spun with all due respect

They had me at featuring spindles in a farm name: instant follow! The farm is located in Tamworth, Ontario. It is around 3 hours east of us by car, and is one that I would visit if we could. These have been smooth online transactions.

Annie’s Grade 1 locks were my answer to easing all that irked last year (a lot). I rarely will buy locks unseen but this was a persuasive listing.

Black grade 1 alpaca locks from Stone Spindle Farm charged on Valkyrie Extra-Fine comb mounted on combing pad.

When the box arrived, I was blown away. They are beautiful raw (unwashed). I had one look & knew they were fit for combing. The waste is minimal & it spins up beautifully.

A twisted length of handcombed black Alpaca by irieknit.  Alpaca is grown by Stone Spindle Farm in Tamworth Ontario.
The Peruvian Pushkas were a good choice for this handcombed Alpaca top

As we hit cold weather, I reached for my waist distaff. Dry furnace heat + long sleeves had the alpaca wisping where I did not want it to wisp!

Looking back, I think that this is what took an already labour intense process a bit too far as I went into a difficult winter.

Small and large Peruvian turned low-whorl drop spindles on a table.  The small spindle has black alpaca singles, and the large spindle behind has 2-ply black alpaca yarn spun by irieknit from Stone Spindle Farm fibre in Tamworth Ontario.

The plied yarn weighs 35 g, and is finished now. It is balanced lace-weight yarn.

All combing came to a halt as I needed to get wool safe from case-making clothes moths.

This summer, I traced back my steps & found little spots of wool were moth-eaten. The biggest of these mistakes was leaving Melvin’s knitted bed in the dark of a carrying case. It was a total loss but easy to ditch in that state!

The rolags: 12 Days of Ontario Fibre box

Last fall, I joined my first fibre box. The 12th bag is Beth’s fibre from Gigi vastly improved by her hand.

A box of numbered brown paper bags of fibre is being sniffed by a black and white domestic short-haired cat.
Missed & not forgotten: our Melly cat

Each colour blended into the batt by handcarding is a different natural dye. The colours are:

  • orange = Munjeet;
  • yellow = Kamala; and
  • pink = Lac
Two handcarded rolags of handdyed alpaca fibre are curled around a yellow maple leaf on a handwoven straw placemat.  The alpaca is prepared by Stone Spindle Farm in Tamworth Ontario.  The placemat is made in Jamaica.
How to rock 20 g of alpaca fibre by Beth Fisher

I appreciated the care that went into this plan. It was a pleasure to spin on my Wee Peggy – both times – I bought a second box!

Four skeins of yarn handspun by irieknit lay on a small wooden table.  A mouse knitting a blue sock figurine is to the right of the fourth skein and a handknit handspun toy is behind the mouse.

From left is the 48 yards of this alpaca; Gotland 20 yards chain-plied from All Sorts Acres; Blue Faced Leicester 41 yards from Birchgrove Farms. These were all participants in the fibre box. The green fibre is also Blue Faced Leicester from another Ontario producer that I had just combed & spun up.

Full circle to Alpaca Top

This morning’s spin is part of the 300 g of Grade 2 top that I recently got from this same producer, Stone Spindle Farm.

Handspun alpaca by irieknit on Watson Martha spinning wheel in butternut wood.  The fibre supply of alpaca top rests on the brown cushion of irieknit's spinning chair.

The wheel is set-up in double drive tension with a seine twine band. The fibre itself is so, so soft with small bits of VM that are easily picked out.

Handspun alpaca by irieknit on Watson Martha spinning wheel in butternut wood.  Detail of yarn that has wound onto the wheel's bobbin and is guided by the two hooks at the spinner's side of the wheel.

The first 129g is around 303 yards, and it is urging me onward.

Skein of 2-ply light tan alpaca yarn spun by irieknit on a Watson Martha spinning wheel and produced by Stone Spindle Farm in Tamworth Ontario.
Finding the soft alpaca is a good goal to have

In my years of grabbing fibre from local Alpaca producers, I think these 3 examples stand out. Coming from a single family farm is truly impressive. This is not easy work!

The box that I mentioned is currently sold out. If more become available you can find them here. The organizer, Twin Oaks Farm, is active on Instagram & also has a newsletter.

Posted by

Lara is a spinner, knitter, natural dyer, weaver who also loves reading. Jamaican-Canadian; she/her in the Greater Toronto Area; Mom to a young 'un, and Spark is our Double Doodle. A spindle is usually close to hand!

2 thoughts on “Spinning Spotlight: Stone Spindle Farm does Alpaca

  1. Where did you get your pushkas? I’ve been looking everywhere in any of the americas for a peruvian spindle that is NOT a chaq-chaq with clackety wooden ring. Yours look perfectly straightforward and elegant and I’d love to know if you have suggestions on me finding one similar. I’m in USA but I’m definitely willing to pay tariffs if I can get one made somewhere nearish the Andes. I’ve tried asking Laverne Waddington and Abby Franquemont (the ones who I most hear about when it comes to Andean spinning) but have had no joy so far.
    Thanks for the pretty post and the effort to put this experiences into words!

    1. Hi! Thanks for your kind words about the post. Two vintage carved pushkas are from eBay auctions. I haven’t searched there in awhile but it may still be a good place to watch. These turned examples were from the previous owner of the Spinning Loft (Smith) and Abby Franquemont. Abby does offer some but not frequently. I have two captive ring pushkas that an online friend sold with a large plying spindle. They were bought new in the market in Cusco. For what it’s worth they give a gentle sound and I like the feel of the ring in motion. If that’s available, I would recommend them. My understanding is that Laverne focuses on weaving and does spin in her personal practice. Good luck finding some for your spinning!

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