Nickelby At Darnum

Look out Autumn here we come!

shop newsAngela Betheras

Well the diary says that Autumn is here, it is now March 8th, in fact it is International Women's Day so that gives us two reasons to celebrate.

Autumn is my favourite time of the year.  The dreaded Summer is on the way out, the mornings are cool, the trees are turning, the grass is hopefully growing and whilst it might look like things are shutting down for the start of Winter for me and my work it means that life is starting to ramp up. The spinning wheel is back in action, the SAORI loom is going at full throttle, cria (baby alpacas) are being born and the images of big open fires, gatherings of friends around the table with a favourite glass of red, snuggled up in my alpaca jumper, sitting under my alpaca throw rug and watching a romantic movie as the nights draw in are just a stone's throw away and I love it!

Autumn is the time when you still want to get out and about, sure the beach might not be the best place to go but as we don't have a beach near us we enjoy walks through the bush, visiting wineries and being able to get out and about and not break into a sweat.

Autumn is the time when the shop here gets busy as well. Not too many people want to try on a jumper when it is over 30 degrees (although the shop is always cool it is a bit off putting) so we see more people coming in and falling in love with all things alpaca and I start to think I wish I worked harder over Summer to ensure I have enough stock.

I am working more and more in the slow clothing space where we encourage everyone to reuse, recycle or if purchase then to purchase with thought.  Instead of hitting the shopping centres, you don't need to now you don't need the air con they provide, why not start to think carefully about your purchases, purchase items with low production mileage, buy natural fibres as plastic damage our waterways, purchase an investment piece and by that I don't mean something expensive but rather something that will last the test of time, that helps you create your memories, memories of what you were wearing when.....Clothing is such an extension of ourselves, give it time to become part of who you are and take time to find out where your clothing comes from and how it has been produced. Above all, consider shopping with the little gal or guy and support a local community.  After all, you buy from me, I buy from my local shops and they do likewise and it means you are doing your bit to help keep a country community alive so we remain here for you to enjoy when you come to visit next Autumn.

We look forward to welcoming you to Nickelby At Darnum very soon and now back to the loom so there are some Nickelby Designs for you to see when you visit

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.