Paca Molino Alpaca Mill 29th June 2014

Guild Field Trip to Paca Molino

Jenny Cornwall’s homemade rye bread, pumpkin and sweet potato soup gave
a warm and delicious welcome to Guild members on a chilly Sunday morning
field trip to the renowned Paca Molino mini-mill just outside of
Toodyay. The huge American style barn is truly a fibre lover’s nirvana
with the mill machinery sharing space with bags of fleece ready for
processing, drying racks of alpaca, llama and merino and Jenny’s fibre
art creation space.  The old wooden spinning wheel and loom existing
side by side with the gleaming machinery of the mill had a common goal –
to create the best possible fibre from the fleece of one of the most
endearing of creatures – the alpaca.

Jenny led the Guild members through all stages of processing fibre from
cleaning, picking, separating the guard hair and carding; explaining and
demonstrating each part of the Canadian built mill machinery and
encouraging us to feel the difference in the fleece at each step of the
process.  It became clear that while the mini-mill is efficient and
produces impressive results, cleaning and maintaining the machinery is
quite labour intensive. There is simply no escaping the clogging effects
of greasy and loose fibres.

Then onto learning about the various types of alpaca complete with the
requisite tactile test so essential to those who cannot pass a bundle of
fluff without wanting to plunge our hands into it.  Of course we did.
The denser, crimpier Huacaya, so like sheep wool and the silkier Suri
with its long luscious locks. For those of us more accustomed to
spinning sheep, the lack of lanolin was very noticeable and assures a
more hypoallergenic wool.

Once Jenny had filled our heads, hands and stomachs it was outside to
meet her alpaca family – the inquisitive girls, cheeky baby Dillon and
the skittish boys.  Alpacas are smaller than llamas and are endearing
enough to want to take home. I found myself wanting to measure both the
back of the car AND baby Dillon to see if …. but Jenny explained that
alpacas are herd animals (I don’t think the cat, dog and budgie qualify
as a herd).

It is fairly safe to say, we all left Paca Molino (sadly NOT with Dillon
in the back seat) with a greater understanding of how each part of a
mini-mill works and how to best prepare alpaca fleece for our spinning,
weaving and felting projects.  The Guild extends grateful thanks to
Jenny Cornwall for so generously sharing her knowledge and opening her
farm, her mill and her heart to Guild members on that chilly winter’s day.