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Spinning in Scandinavia with Silja Devine: Bokedala Suri Alpaca – Breeding suri alpacas in Sweden.

by SiljaD on February 13, 2015

ALALPI first met Anne Line Scheele of Bokedala Suri Alpaca last september when I was at the big norwegian meet-up in Lillehammer. She and a fellow Swedish spinner had travveled for 12 hours to be part of the meet-up! We both took classes with Ester Rodgers aka Jazzturtle together and we had a lot of fun during the weekend! Anne Line had brought a suitcase full of suri fibers and I got some wonderful samples from her. She is actually the sole breeder of Suris in Sweden. While getting to know Anne Line I learned that she actually is a Norwegian living in Sweden, and that she also is from the same area as I am!. I hope you enjoy this post as much as I have writing it!

IMG_8506Silja: What sparked your interest in Suri Alpacas?

Anne Line: I met some lamas for the first time in 2008 and was totally mesmerized. Looking into their eyes is like looking into eternity. Since I already had a strong interest in handicraft and natural fibers the step to discover their cousins the alpacas, the awesome fiber producers, was not long.

Silja: Please tell me how you started the process of importing suris to Sweden and the challenges you had during this process of getting started.

IMG_9679Anne Line: I’ve been around alpacas for the last 4-5 years or so. We have a breeder close by and I’ve been helping out in the stable. My house had only a small garden and figured I would have to wait until retirement some 10 years ahead to be able to keep alpacas. But with love and passion it’s hard to wait. I (again) fell in love with two alpaca huacaya boys that I just had to buy and started looking for a farm to suit it all. They say I’m a rare kind since I started with the animals and not the other way round. Two years ago I found my farm and around the same time I discovered the magic of the suri fiber. I was given the opportunity to import high quality suri females from Surico, Paqocha and Thistledown, top breeders in New Zealand. Not surprisingly I took the chance in the golden locks!

trinsicfleeceChallenges? Well, it is one thing to help out in a stable when you have an experienced person to guide you. It’s quite another matter when they all arrive in your stable, then the serious work starts! And all the fun!  We had our first beautiful suri cria last summer and we are hoping for some more top quality crias to arrive next summer season. It’s a long wait since the alpacas have a 11.5 month gestation period but it’s all worth while!

Silja: How many alpacas do you have at Bokedala? Please tell me a little about your flock.

Anne Line: We have 8 alpacas at Bokedala Suri Alpacka, including our first born cria, sweet Aurora Delight, born this summer. 3 huacaya and 5 suri alpacas. Huacaya being the woolly kind of alpaca, and suri being the silky, very rare and definitely the most exclusive fiber producer you can imagine. Only some 4-5% of all alpacas are suri.

DawnSilja: In every flock there are always an animal or two that ”sticks out”. I bet you have some personalities in your flock as well.

Anne Line: Well, they all have strong personalities.  Actually, that is very typical of alpacas. But the one I just have to mention is Dawn, Lady Dawn – leader of the pack. She is a big beautiful lavender-grey alpaca in total control of them all. When not pregnant she is the most cuddly of creatures, following you around in the paddock like a pet.  She can’t be cuddled enough. When pregnant she gets a bit like other pregnant females, introvert and grumpy and not interested in being cuddled at all but still a lot of fun.  There is never a dull moment with Dawn around.

Julius aka ‘Julle’, is our charmer. He is very curious and just has to investigate all visitors:  might they have some snacks for him? He is very gentle, loves snoozing your face and gives you that long gaze with his enormous dark eyes. Oh, there is that eternity thing again!

DSC_0005Silja: What visions do you have for the time to come and the breeding of these animals?

Anne Line: Breeding for high quality suri fiber and keeping our animals well handled and happy is our aim and passion. The luster and fineness of the fleece of our first cria is fabulous and we are very eager to see where our breeding program will take us!

The interest to learn more of alpacas and the fiber is very high. Starting spring-time we will arrange courses and hope to gather enthusiastic fiber people to our farm.

IMAG0480Silja: How is the network in Sweden when it comes to alpaca breeding? Are there many alpaca breeders that focus on Suris or alpacas in general?

Anne Line: To increase the communication and the general knowledge of alpacas we have just started an organization for alpaca lovers – Alpaca & Friends http://www.alpacaandfriends.se– we welcome both alpaca owners and fiber enthusiast to A&F and we have already had a Fiber Show with 50 entries this first year.

The alpaca industry is very young in Sweden, the first alpacas arrived some 20 years ago and there is an estimated total of 3-4000 animals in Sweden. Most of them have huacaya alpacas, I am the only one focusing on Suri in my breeding.

Anne-Line och AlpackornaSilja: How does the Swedish climate influence the suri fiber?

Anne Line: The winters are pretty mild in the south of Sweden. Some people say the fiber grows better with the cold weather but I don’t find this to be the case. The way to improve the fiber quality is by a good breeding program with good animal health and nutrition. I have selected suri females with excellent fiber and luster to be the base of our breeding and I am really eager to see where this will bring us in the future!

Silja: Since you are also an avid spinner, I would really appreciate your telling us about the ”Spinning scene”in your part of Sweden. Do you belong to a local spinning group or classes?

Anne Line: We are a smaller group of some 10-15 spinners gathering each and every month to spin and have fun – it all started on Facebook actually! Last time we met at Bokedala.  There were 10 ladies spinning in a circle in my living room — Giving and getting advice, drinking coffee, the spinning wheels producing meter by meter of beautiful yarn. Some of the ladies are alpaca owners but most of them just love spinning and all and everything connected to it. The all wanted to meet the animals and I took the chance to show them the suri fiber and we all learned something new that day. It is always a very warm atmosphere when we meet and nobody wants to go home.

Mix2Silja: I have a final question for you before I let you go. Where is your favorite place to sit and spin?

Anne Line: I wish I could say in front of the fireplace, but I don’t have one – yet. To be honest with you I usually watch the television, letting my hands enjoy the fiber and the head watching the latest drama. Modern spinner you know!

Silja: Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interwiew, Anne Line! I wish you all the best for the continuation of your project of breeding suris! Hopefully I will get to take the trip to visit you and the animals soon! You can visit Bokedala suri alpaca on the web here and their facebook page here.

 

Spin Artiste:  Thank you both, Silja and Anne!  The animals are beautiful and it is so inspiring to hear of Anne’s work to bring suris to Sweden.  Suri is one of my most favorite fibers and I can see how one can fall utterly in love with it.  On another note, we have winners!  Yes, winners of Jan Massie’s spinning dvd…and those folks are:  Melisa Morrison, Cheryl Martin, Susan Bruck, Cathy Brooks and Melanie Keighley.  I will be in touch to get you your awesome prize. 

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