Marj Brady and her husband Stephen run Amazing Graze Alpaca. They win prizes for their alpaca and the high quality of their fleece.
“We moved here from Toronto in 2004,” said Marj Brady. “We are city people. We are transplants. We got the animals before we moved here and we were boarding them at the farm about half an hour from our residence in the city. When the boarding fees got to be too much, my husband said we might as well buy a farm and we did. We started with two alpaca and now we have 35.
“I have been spinning since 2003. For nine years I have been spinning. I learned how to knit at about the same time as I got the animals. I am not a great knitter, but I enjoy it. I like spinning, but I don’t have as much time as I would like, as we have many animals. When we shear I have to sort the fleece and sorting the fleece takes quite a bit of my time.
“I took lessons from a craft store in the city. They taught me how to knit. I am left-handed so that comes with a set of challenges depending on who teaches you. Some people say everything you think is right and others say you have to do it their way and that doesn’t work well for me. A hands off teacher works best for me. They were just there to look at what I was doing and to make sure it turned out right, and were not telling me I was holding the yarn incorrectly. With spinning I learned from the woman we got the animals from. Again, it was relatively hands off. I am more of an intuitive spinning than a technical one. I can do the fine yarns, but I prefer the funky, bulky yarn fun thing.
“I learned from friends. I also belong to the Belleville Spinners and Weavers Guild. They have people who can help you too. I have been a member on and off since we arrived in 2004.
“If you would like to learn of skill I would suggest you get in touch with a local guild. When we moved here I went to the library and ask a librarian if they could put me in touch with someone who knew about spinning. She referred me to one of the members of the guild who then took me to the guild meeting. Most communities today have spinning guilds, which is kind of nice, often in half an hour’s drive. There is one in Kingston. There is one in Peterborough. There is one in Oshawa and one in Bowmanville. There are lots of places to go.
“My material is my own fibre. I grow it, we shear it, I sort it. Most of it gets processed and it comes back to me. Some of it I spin myself.
“As a city kid, I didn’t have anything I needed, except a questioning nature. The people we bought the animals from taught about husbandry, essentially all the husbandry we needed. They told us how to give needles, how to trim feet and how to feed the animals properly. I took some seminars and we have kind of learned as it went.
“I was working in the financial industry for 25 years. I was good at what I did, and enjoying it until the last couple of years, and then it got so it was not fun anymore. We needed a big change and this was our big change. I never had frozen pipes before in my life. The first winter here, they were frozen for 30 days on and off. This is a good place to be. We are in a pretty location just north of the village in Stirling. We can see for miles. I like it. I like to be able to see.”