Driving up the tree-lined gravel pathway to the Twisted Sisters Mill, we are welcomed with a deep but friendly greeting from a fluffy white farm dog named Toby. Dotted along the fenceline we spot a few four-legged members of Sunny Hill Alpacas herd.
Peacefully grazing these alpacas are part of a solid breeding program run by Leanne and her Husband Kevin. The pair take pride in producing the best alpacas possible, paying close attention to fine consistent fleeces that can be processed into yarn for the Twisted Sisters Mill. “A lot of people have never seen an alpaca and have no idea what they are used for, we like to introduce them to our yarn and alpaca products and watch them fall in love them,” says Leanne.
It’s a trip Canterbury residents look forward to all year long, a few peaceful moments to watch the herd padding about, the babies bouncing back and fourth and even a few brave alpacas hopping up onto haystacks for a better view. “One of my favourite parts about raising Alpacas, is getting to watch the babies play together,” says Leanne.
After an annual shearing - the alpaca fibre is then turned over to the mill side of the operation where sisters Leanne, Renee and Marlene work together to process the fibre into yarn and then the yarn into beautiful products like mitts, hats, baby boots and scarves. While similar to sheep’s wool, alpaca fibre is a soft, durable and luxurious fibre that is warmer, not prickly and has no lanolin, making it hypoallergenic.
Even with an incredible selection of hand crocheted products available, their raw yarn continues to be the best-seller “Our yarn by far is the most popular, not only because it is super soft and warm but people also like the fact that it is made locally,” says Leanne.
After a tour of the milling facilities and chance to pick up some luxurious yarn, Canterbury Residents stopped by to wish the alpacas farwell before departing. "Getting our residents out to small family-run businesses like Twisted Sisters Alpaca farm does so much to lift up their spirits and brighten their week," says Mbalia Kamara, Recreation Supervisor at Canterbury Foundation. "We so appreciate these community organizations that are willing to open their doors to us, and our residents."
We’d like to extend a big thank you to Sunnyhill Alpacas and the Twister Sisters Mill for hosting our residents last week. You can find out more about their incredible family-owned and locally operated business here: http://www.twistedsistersmill.com