Ranch to Products | How the Process Works
In today’s fast paced world it’s easy to forget that quality takes time. How much time?
Well that’s where Alpaca is unique.
Nothing about the Alpaca is fast, except for maybe dinner.
Alpacas are shorn once a year, usually in the spring. It is done for the health of the animal, and while the Alpaca’s don’t always enjoy it, it is done in the safest and most ethical way. At our ranch our family team can shear one alpaca in 7 minutes and they are much more comfortable getting that thick coat off before the summer heat. In the Altiplano in Peru it is typically done by hand, with shears. No electricity in the mountains. For those who have heard that Alpacas squeal or spit during the process, that can be the case. Some enjoy it about as much as a cat enjoys a bath, and lets face it, both animals are drama queens. But this is a task that Alpaca Ranchers have mastered. Shearing an animal takes 7 minutes or less, and one alpaca can yield 5-7 pounds of fiber, now that’s efficient. Let me tell you that watching a freshly shorn herd of alpacas is amazing, they are pronking (jumping), running, rolling and loving their freshly shorn selves! Our family takes special care and attention with each alpaca we shear.
Once sheared the fiber is sorted into six categories, from finest to coarsest.The finest, softest classes are used for apparel, and the coarser fiber made into crafts and felted. After the fiber is sorted it is skirted to remove debris, washed and dried and then carded by machine or with two fine toothed combs. Once enough fiber builds up on the comb, it resembles a thick squishy rectangle of fiber that is known as a rove and is can be spun into yarn. The entire process often takes 6-9 months.
Our family sorts, classes and packages the fiber ready to get sent to the mill for processing.
Once the fiber is made into yarn, it is distributed among the many artisans who knit for us. That’s right, that Montana Scarf was made by a real person, not a faceless factory. We know exactly where, how and by whom our products are made. We make our products in the USA and source additional product from Peru and Ecuador. Every purchase from us supports the alpacas on our family ranch and helps support and honor the Peruvian way of life, where our ancestor herd came from.
One of Sentinel Ranch's first batches of yarn that was spun and ready for our knit scarves and hats!
Quality takes time, at our ranch, quality matters. Happy animals, raised in loving care.
Dedicated to slow, sustainable and ethical fashion.