New Zealand alpaca fibre and yarn have only been commercially available within the past decade or so, and now alpaca farms can be found throughout the country. The feel of alpaca yarn is very smooth and soft and is now often blended with fine merino wool and silk to create a very luxurious fibre. I was approached a few years ago by the New Zealand Alpaca Breeders Association and asked if I would be interested in weaving a piece to promote alpaca yarn, and given 2 kilos of 8ply alpaca yarn to play with.
I decided since the origins of alpaca are in South America, I would design a blanket with these elements in mind. Having just completed a workshop on double weave, I was keen to explore this further so decided to weave the alpaca blanket in a double weave pickup. This meant graphing out a design, working with 2 layers of threads and “picking up” individual threads of the opposite colour to make the design. If I had known how long this was going to take me to do, I may have rethought my original design.
I knew I needed two very contrasting colours to make the pattern stand out and to make the weaving easier to do, so chose a deep purple and bright yellow. Not wanting a fringe on the blanket meant tucking the ends back between the two layers then in a lime green alpaca yarn, blanket stitching all the edges. The finishing touch was making tassels and sewing these on with a bright bead to the edges of the blanket.