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Women put new spin on alpaca fiber

Washington County business "small but growing"

Washington County business "small but growing"

November 12, 2007|By MARLO BARNHART

CLEAR SPRING - A dream come true might be a little strong for Sue Hull, but it's close ... really close.

The owner of 17 alpacas, Hull had until recently kept the native South American animals as an avocation and parlayed that into her leadership of the 4-H alpaca club through the Maryland Cooperative Extension in Washington County.

But now Hull and her business partner, Kathy Stumpf, have formed a business that is making available woven products made with the fine fiber produced by alpacas.

"We did a year of research" trying to find firms within the United States that could take the fiber from the animals to the finished product, Hull said.

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Paca Pouches is the name of the alpaca fiber business venture established by Stumpf, of Prairie Lake Alpacas, and Hull, of Millstone Manor.

"We are alpaca breeders committed to producing a market for the alpaca fiber that we grow and harvest each year," Hull said. "We are very excited and proud to be producing 100 percent American-made alpaca fiber products that are grown, scoured, spun and woven by mills into finished products in the United States."

Paca Pouches offers alpaca wharf throws, day blankets and bed blankets. The company also sells some dyed yarns and novelty items.

This month, a story in Country Home magazine includes interviews with a couple in Maine who talks about their work with Hull and Stumpf in getting their fiber ready for market.

And in Blueprint magazine this month, another feature on keeping warm shows Paca Pouches products, Hull said.

"We are small but growing," Hull said.

From her alpacas, she harvests about 40 pounds of fiber each spring, while Stumpf gets about 100 pounds from her animals annually.

"But three years ago, we were only making money selling animals," Stumpf said. "We're on the brink of making good money now with the products."

Stumpf said the expensive processes from animal to finished product make the items somewhat expensive retail. But interest is high and hopefully the costs will go down as the business grows.

Now Paca Pouches are available at Country Expressions at 8 E. Main St. in Waynesboro, Pa. Hull and Stumpf have a room there with their products on sale.

Also popular are dye kits that include yarn for dyeing, as well as instructions.

The products are being offered on Hull and Stumpf's personal farm Web sites, as well as Paca Pouches' Web site.

"Recently we shipped 10 wharf throws to Wisconsin," Stumpf said.

"We have worked very hard on this project for the last two years and are just thrilled to see it finally in the market for retail sales," Hull said.

On the Web

Paca Pouches: www.pacapouches.com

Prairie Lake Alpacas: www.prairielakealpacas.com

Millstone Manor: www.millstonemanor.com

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