A fresh new yarn company called New Leaf Yarns are featured as Wool of the Month in the shop with their Aplpaca and Masham blend. This beautiful yarn just begs to be knit with and has a feel good story behind it. To follow is a wee interview with New Leaf Yarns’ proprietor Jane!
Ginger Twist Studio: Tell me a bit about yourself and how you first came to own alpacas.
Jane: I was a lawyer for over 20 years, but a few years back I lost a couple of good friends in the middle of an incredibly pressured year. It was a huge shock and a wake-up call that life was short and you have to crack on. The idea of stepping back, moving out of town, and working for myself from home started to take hold. We went to see breeders, and the idea of keeping alpacas began to appeal more and more. It is almost impossible to spend time with alpacas and not feel better about life! I started the New Leaf herd with a mother, Cha Cha, and her cria who was only a few weeks old. We called her Stella. I know it sounds a bit mad, but after nearly 30 years of structure, I am now doing things I love and seeing where they take me, which feels great.
GTS: How many alpacas are in the New Leaf Alpaca gang, and can you tell me a bit about what it is like to own such adorable and useful animals? Do they require a lot of looking after?
Jane: There are 5 ladies at the moment. Since she had Stella, Cha Cha has had two more daughters, Mary and Lila. She is now having a rest! The gang was joined by Betty a couple of years ago. Stella and Betty are both pregnant and I hope to have two more cria later this summer. The small holding dream is still there, but unfortunately we can’t leave Edinburgh just yet. In the meantime, the ladies are extremely well looked after at Barnacre Alpacas who provide a livery service for owners who have not yet managed to find their own land. I see them for my alpaca ‘fix’ as often as I can. Generally, they are not too tricky to look after and it certainly provides me with comfort there is a fantastic supportive community of owners to help when the time comes.
GTS: What pushed you to get their fibre spun into yarn, and what makes it so special? What is your brand about?
Jane: I started knitting initially because I knew with every shearing I was accumulating more fleece. I also needed to make the herd sustainable. The fleece is so beautiful to handle, I didn’t want to waste it. As I learned more about knitting, and started to appreciate the value of quality yarn, I wanted to see what I could do with it. There are lots of sources of pure alpaca yarn so I wanted to try something different, hence the idea of blending with quality British sheep fleeces. I want to make good use of fleece from much loved alpacas from my herd, and other smaller herds round the country. I will always share where the alpaca fleeces come from, and hopefully this brings the yarn to life.
GTS: What sort of things do you enjoy knitting?
Jane: I am still a novice, and have masses to learn, but I love knitting jumpers and cardigans – projects you can really get stuck into. I was so chuffed when I finished my Owls jumper, Lush cardigan and an Elementary jumper which has a colour work yoke. Not tried socks yet but on the list!
GTS: Your brand is quite new, but have you had time to actually use any of your yarn? Or do you have any grand plans of things to make?
Jane: I plan to knit a cardigan with the grey Masham blend – I am really pleased with how the colour has turned out and like the Coraline pattern by Ysolda Teague. Otherwise, I have a Wensleydale 4ply blend coming soon in 4 shades and I plan to try my first brioche design with a couple of them, and want to try CC Almon’s ‘shots’ fingerless mitts too before the autumn.
GTS: Tell me something about yourself that has nothing to do with fibre or animals.
Jane: I am very proud to be on the board of The Yard, an amazing organisation bringing adventure and friendship to children and young adults with additional needs, and as a random fact, I learned to ride a bike last year. I am still totally rubbish and regularly humiliated as wee ones shoot past me on the Water of Leith walkway.