Summer haircuts coming up for Island Alpacas

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Shearer Matt Best gave this alpaca a shave and a haircut at last year's annual shearing. —Lisa Vanderhoop

Island Alpaca is celebrating its 10th anniversary on the Island with a shearing day on Saturday, April 29. Come see professional alpaca handlers and shearers Jozi and Matt Best give the herd their summer haircuts and gather the fiber to be made into the yarns, handcrafted garments, and other products on sale at the Island Alpaca gift shop.

After the alpacas are sheared, the wool from around their torso is collected and skirted — a process where dirt and coarse hair are removed, sorted, bagged, and taken to the mill. There, it is made into yarn specific to each animal. The yarn is then sold or given to local weavers and knitters to be made into the handcrafted items on sale in the gift shop.

All the other wool collected from the shearing is sent off to Fall River, where Island Alpaca partners with an alpaca cooperative. Last year, Island Alpaca was able to donate around 250 pounds of wool to the cooperative, and in return got hats, scarves, socks, and other products to sell in their gift shop.

Alpaca wool is an alternative to sheep’s wool; there are more than 20 shades of alpaca wool naturally, and the fiber lends itself to easy dyeing.

Besides shearing, Saturday’s event will include a spinning demonstration given by Annamarie Di’Addarie, and other highlights, including a raffle. Refreshments will be available to benefit the Food Pantry, and food donations will be accepted.