Nickelby At Darnum

Vale Misao Jo

Angela BetherasComment

SAORI weavers around the world are weaving with a  heavy heart this week as we mourn the loss of the SAORI founder, Misao Jo on January 10th at the young age of 104, just shy of her 105th birthday.

Many of you who have visited Nickelby At Darnum have heard me speak about my time in Japan in early 2016 where I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Misao Jo.  She no longer spoke but she enjoyed her mornings in the studio watching everyone happily working away on their creations. I experienced a very special moment with her when she wanted to hold my hand and her eyes smiled the biggest smile, it was probably the highlight of my trip and it was then I knew that SAORI was home to me and how much this art form has come to mean to me.

Misao Jo started weaving at the age of 57 and she brought to her weaving life experiences and many of us have been attracted to the SAORI way as it is all about developing individuality not merely producing products. As Misao Jo said " it is just like a painter painting a picture or a poet writing a poem. SAORI Weavers weave in search of our true selves which are hidden"

The SAORI family now speaks many languages, crosses many boarders and reside in all corners of the world and we communicate through SAORI and strive to make the world a better more friendlier place.  This has all been made possible because of one woman who never strove to teach but to help us all find our own individual creativity.

This week social media groups are being flooded with memories and thanks to a woman who has given so much to so many people.  Her legacy is indeed lasting.

Misao Jo's favourite colour was red so I think this week's creation will have to have a touch of red in memory of such a wonderful woman who lived a wonderful life.


So you have some rescued alpacas - what's next?

Angela Betheras

Alpacas are absolutely wonderful animals, they are kind, gentle, make you smile just to look at them and they generally enjoy being part of your family and there is not much to fault.  Heck that is why so many people want a couple in their paddock.  I am told it is to keep the grass down but as a total devotee of these beautiful animals, I know better.

However sometimes people have alpacas and their circumstances change and they can no longer look after them, hey that happens to fully fledged breeders as well so it is nothing to be ashamed about.  So in all good intentions they set about finding new homes and this is where you come in, you are the new found home but wait, you don't know anything about alpacas, what do they eat? what do they need? how often do you shear them? do they need injections and if so which ones and when?  These are all questions breeders are really hoping you are asking and seeking answers for because if you are not, then your rescued alpacas aren't going to be living a very happy life at all and that is not good for any one.

So ideally before you bring home your alpacas and if not then, then very soon after, you need to set about arming yourself with as much information as you can.  You obviously start with the person who is passing the alpacas onto you but in many cases they could be trying to find them a new home as they no longer care for the alpaca so always best to seek a second opinion.

I am often asked why alpacas? and part of the answer is that I met the alpaca people and decided they were my kind of tribe, they were friendly people, loved their animals, knew lots and I felt at home so my suggestion would be to start with one of us. If by some slim chance you don't get answers then ask another one of us but I am pretty sure that won't be necessary.

Yes alpacas are pretty easy to care for but they do need shearing every year late Spring, early Summer so you do need to find an alpaca shearer, they do need medications mostly via injections so you have to be comfortable with that or are willing to pay a vet or know a farmer who can help. Those blasted toe nails need to be cut at least once during the year and that will take 2 people with good backs and you will need to do regular health checks and be prepared to pay the occasional vet bill and in return they will love you but most probably from a distance.  You are not bringing home a new dog or cat, these are farm animals who live in a paddock, not your lounge room but they do need some form of shelter and protection from the wind so they will need a shed or shelter in the paddock.

One final point if you are gifted or are looking to buy alpacas, stud boys are not a bonus.  Alpacas don't come in "breeding pairs". Stud boys need to be kept separate from your girls but they can't be on their own so they need a weather for company.  One of your girls might have a boy which has to leave the girls before 12 months of age but if you have a stud boy he might not like that boy so you could have difficulties.  If you are gifted an entire male and you know your family trees then by all means go ahead and do matings but then seriously consider either selling him on or having him weathered.  Your lives will be so much easier.

I can promise you a wonderful life with your new found friends and you will find it hard to imagine what your life would be without them but remember whilst we all say they are easy to look after, that doesn't mean you can just leave them and not look after them at all.  Even the best of us have needs!

So find a tribe of supporters, ensure your property is alpaca ready, have all your information at hand and then all that is left to do is to enjoy your new family.


Summer is here so we can't wear alpaca, right?

Angela BetherasComment

Wrong! Yes here in Australia we are finally entering the t-shirt wearing time.  Most would say down here in Victoria it has taken its time in coming but that doesn't mean your alpaca needs to be bagged up and packed away.

why? Alpaca is not technically a wool, it is a hair.  It is a hollow fibre which allows it to breath with your body so it is one of those rare fibres where we can say that it keeps you lovely and warm in Winter and cool in Summer.  If that wasn't the case you would see alpacas panting in the paddock like you do sheep in the heat.  The lightness of the alpaca means they can handle the heat and indeed many of them love to sunbake.  You will often see them stretched out in the paddock exposing their tummies to the sun to soak up all the rays.  Oh what a life.  Don't we all wish we could do just that and then at dinner time some human comes along and feeds you your dinner, just the way you like it.

To make alpaca even more versatile we mix it with cotton as well in our own range and of course we only use Australian cotton which is known in the cotton industry to be the best in the world so we would have nothing less to go with our beautiful alpacas.

So don't completely tuck your alpaca away to the bottom draw during Summer.  Granted you probably won't want to wear it when the temp hits the mid 30's but if you have a choice between alpaca and a manmade fibre such as polyester, then please, for the sake of your skin and body, put on the alpaca.

Here is a picture of Judy and Saori enjoying the beautiful sunny day

cria baby alpacas.jpg