Teresa Kukowski of Hollyhock Alpacas focuses on alpaca fiber, offering fiber in every stage from still on the animals to ready to wear garments. She has raw fiber which needs to washed and carded before spinning, prepared roving which is ready to spin, lots of yarn - hand spun, dyed, in lace weight, DK, worsted and bulky weights. She makes shawls, scarves, hats, mittens, baby blankets, hats and socks. Not one to let anything go to waste she also uses the second quality fiber and yarn scraps as nesting material for birds.
Tell me about how you originally got into your craft, Teresa.
My mom taught me to knit as a kid. Back then, about the best yarn we could afford was scratchy acrylic, but I learned the skills needed. Jump ahead several decades to 2002 when my husband and I purchased our first alpacas. I soon grew to love working with alpaca fiber. I've since learned to spin yarn and weave.
What is your favorite thing to do in the whole wide world?
The coolest thing in the world is to be there for the birth of an alpaca cria (baby). While I try to keep watch incase of birthing problems, most alpacas have their crias quite quickly and without difficulty, so I have missed many of the births on the farm. It is always amazing to me to see the changes in the first few hours. They go from birth to standing to nursing in the first hour or so. Some are running (and often falling!) by the end of the first day.
What is your biggest challenge when it comes to running your business?
Staying focused! I have so many fiber projects I want to do - hats and mittens, custom orders, more yarn to dye, felting, scarves and bags - the list seems endless. But there is also the animals to care for. And the business side of blogging, website, consignment, and the bookwork! Sometimes I have so many things going that is seems like I never complete anything.
What item in your shop would you most like to receive as a gift if someone were shopping for you?
I'm too old to be having babies, so the baby things would scare me to death. Even though I already have one, I would probably choose a shawl. My favorite is this green one - the alpaca/mohair combination is so cuddly-soft.
When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
A beautician. And at 18, that is what I went to school for. I cut hair a couple years before going back to school to become a computer programmer. NEVER did I think I would be a farmer! I grew up on a farm, but was not the outdoors type.
What other artists out there do you love?
There are so many incredibly talented crafters and artists on Etsy. Here are a few that I also call friends:
RachAlPaca Farm Hand Over the Wool ILOOMinating Also worth mentioning are: Sapphire Child - orchids and fiber, my 2 favorite things. Ken's Garden Pottery
What does your future hold?
Of late, I've really gotten into dyeing - not death, but dyeing yarn. Hand painting and multi-colored dyeing is fascinating and I want to do more. Oh, and I've recently had this craving to make doll clothes. Must be a second childhood! Until my husband retires, I don't see anything life-changing for us, just more alpaca fiber for me!