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AOBA "Fiber to Fashion" National Handcrafters' SpinOff Competition - Atlanta, GA, February 23 - 27, 2005. Two blue ribbons (grey and multi classes) out of our four entries in this National level fiber competition! 

AOBA National HandCrafters' SpinOff Competition - Sandy, UT, June 3-5, 2005. Our three entries in this National competition won a first (multi), a second (white) and a fourth place (bay black) for our farm!

Mid-America Alpaca Show, Topeka KS - November 5-6, 2005. Out of four Handcrafters' SpinOff entries, our alpacas won three blue ribbons (yearling grey/juvi dark/yearling dark), and one third place (yearling fawn). 

OABA Fleece Show, Columbus OH - November 12-13, 2005. At this Level 4 fleece show, which had 212 entries in the SpinOff competition, our six entries won three blue ribbons, two second place ribbons, and a coveted purple ribbon! Our two dark silver greys (Ishbel and Nikos) won first and second in a yearling class of 9, and Nikos also won the purple ribbon for the highest score in the grey/multi category, with 93.5/100 points. Spring Blush and Myfanwy placed first in the medium brown yearling and dark brown juvenile categories, and Izzy placed second in the fawn yearling class. Paradigm placed 5th in the combined grey class (beaten by Nikos and Ishbel), but still had a score of 90.5/100 points!

Virginia Classic, Lexington, VA - March 12-13, 2005
Grand Champion grey male out of all 33 grey males in show, plus Grand Champion for our dark brown juvenile female, competing with 23 light, medium and dark brown females of all ages! Two blue ribbons, one second and one third place out of 4 entries in the Handcrafters' SpinOff. 

There is no question about it - the Virginia Classic is simply our favorite family show! This year our youngest daughter made her showring debut, at only 3 years of age, in the sub-junior obstacle class...with a little help from her big sister! Our daughters were also joined by their school friend, who showed alpacas for the first time, and was delighted to bring home the blue ribbon in a very competitive junior obstacle class. Our daughters all won ribbons in all of their classes, but more importantly, they had a great time working together training and showing their alpacas.

Thistledown's Myfanwy
Now in it's 11th year, the Virginia Classic is a very highly regarded Level 3 AOBA certified show, attracting about 400 alpacas, and breeders from all over the eastern states, so we were very honored to keep two of the coveted Color Championship ribbons here in Virginia. PV Nikos, our yearling grey male, won a blue ribbon in his class and Grand Champion grey male, out of all 33 grey males of all ages entered in the show. Our juvenile dark brown female, Thistledown's Myfanwy also won a blue ribbon in her class and Grand Champion brown female, out of all 23 brown females of all ages entered in the show, which was particularly exciting for us as she is a third generation product of our own breeding program.
PV Nikos

Holly Hawk, our dark brown yearling female, who is already a Grand Champion from a previous show, won a second place in her class and was up against Myfanwy in the brown female Championship class, where Thistledown owned two of the four entries! Shannon, our grey yearling female, placed second in the "bred and owned yearling female" class, and in the Handcrafter's Spinoff competition, our four fiber entries won two first places, one second and one third place ribbon. Full fleece halter classes are judged 50% on physical conformation or correct body type and 50% on fiber quality, whereas for the Handcrafter's Spinoff, you submit 2oz of your alpaca's fiber to be spun into yarn and the quality and ease of spinning is evaluated by an experienced handspinner.
MaPaca Eastern Alpaca Jubilee, Harrisburg, PA - April 22 - 24, 2005

Thistledown's Myfanwy
- second place juvenile dark brown female, full fleece halter class, MaPaca 2005. Judge: Mike Safley.
At the largest alpaca show in the US, which attracts top breeders from states as far away as Oregon and Washington, every alpaca we took into the ring won a ribbon - one first, two seconds, a third and a fourth. Five of our fleeces also ribboned - three seconds, a third and a fifth, so almost half of our foundation herd won a ribbon at this incredibly competitive show, which had over 1600 entries this year!! 

In the full fleece halter classes, PV Nikos was the first place dark silver grey male, Thistledown's Myfanwy placed second in her dark brown juvenile class, Holly Hawk placed third out of all the medium brown yearling females, with Mike Safley pronouncing her "the densest alpaca in the class", and our dark silver grey roan female, Ishbel, placed fourth in a bay black yearling class. In the composite class, where the alpaca is judged shorn in the ring, their fleece judged separately and the results combined, our beige female, Bronwen, was the second place yearling white female. To win any ribbon at all at this show is a huge honor, so to obtain these results, and take part in two Championship classes at the MaPaca Jubilee, represents a tremendous achievement for a small, family farm competing at this level. 

PV Nikos
- first place dark silver grey yearling male, full fleece halter class, MaPaca 2005. Judge: Julio Sumar.

Nymphs and fairies
Our daughters won a second place in the costume class with their "Nymph and Fairy" outfits. This class may look like it is just for fun, and certainly demonstrates what a well-behaved and good-natured pet an alpaca can be, but is not judged on the basis of "cuteness" alone! When judging the class, one of the most important factors is the degree of difficulty involved in putting the costume on the alpaca, and their tolerance level in wearing it. You can see that our alpacas have costume pieces on all four feet, a headpiece with attached veil swinging around their face, a blanket covering their back, wings strapped around their bellies and two stuffed toys in costume "riding" on their backs! Given that alpacas are a prey animal, they are quite head and leg shy, and do not usually tolerate articles on their backs, especially glittery blankets, so this costume was a true test of Bronwen and Ishbel's good nature, and the alpaca-handling skills of our girls!

Dundee's Holly Hawk

Our eldest daughter did extremely well to place second with her alpaca Bronwen in a junior obstacle class, with 25 other children and their alpacas competing for the top ribbons. She went on to do a magnificent job of showing Bronwen in her white yearling composite class, where she was up against adults showing their alpacas in serious competition, and brought home another red ribbon, both for her alpaca and our farm. 

Thistledown also entered the fleece show, which had over 200 entries from many of the largest and most prestigious farms in the country. We were awarded 5 fleece ribbons - three seconds, a third and a fifth, which means that almost half of our foundation herd, or core breeding stock, won a halter or fleece ribbon at the largest show in the US this year. Now that just can't be bad!

Yupanqui's Bronwen
Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival, Friendship, MD - May 7-8, 2005

Buckets of prime plucked angora fiber for sale!
The Wool Merchant continued with the tradition of exhibiting at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, selling raw angora and alpaca fiber, pindrafted blended rovings (merino, alpaca and angora), luxurious yarns (alpaca/angora blends and 100% alpaca), felt batting for crafts and show quality french angora rabbits. We brought 12 buckets of prime plucked french angora fiber with us this year, in rare and unusual colors, and sold out of all but one. Towards the end of April 2005, we produced 5 batches of naturally colored, finger-weight alpaca yarn. Two weeks later, by the end of the Sheep and Wool Festival, we had sold out of two or the five colors, and were told by a number of fiber enthusiasts that our alpaca yarn was the best they had ever handled! We will produce more yarn in time to exhibit at the Montpelier Fiber Festival in Virginia on October 1-2, 2005, and are thoroughly looking forward to seeing all our customers again in Montpelier, and at the MD Sheep and Wool Festival in May 2006. Thanks to everyone for your support of our rapidly developing fiber business!
Luxurious yarns made from our  award-winning alpacas
Virginia Renaissance Faire, Lake Anna Winery, VA - every weekend from May 21 - June 12, 2005

Walking our alpacas in Medieval costume at the Faire
And the story goes something like this....

It was well known that in England during the 1600s, Sir Francis Drake was out marauding the High Seas, with a Letter of Authorisation from Her Grace to stop any Spanish ships. It was common practice for such vessels to be forced into port, all their contents taken ashore, and the vessels themselves set on fire. Amongst the Spanish treasures so discovered were some strange long-necked beasts, which the local people at first took to be some kind of sheep. However, when these peculiar creatures took to their feet, it became abundantly clear that they were something very different indeed. Upon realising the rare and unusual nature of these outlandish beasts, Sir Francis immediately decided to present them to the Baroness as a gift for her new menagerie. 

Her Grace meets the strange long-necked beasts

Costumed Faire-goers study the outlandish new creatures
The local townsfolk soon realised that the fleece from these wonderful new creatures was finer, stronger and warmer than the wool of any sheep, and they set to work making fine yarns, felts and garments of a quality that had never before been seen. The children also found that these beautiful beasts, though shy at first, became quite delightful and friendly and they took to leading them around the grounds like pets. As luck would have it, these graceful creatures all appeared to be of the same sex, so it was not possible for them to become successfully established as a livestock in Olde England.
The younger alpaca handlers relax with a spot of dancing at the Faire
Virginia State Fair Alpaca Show & Exhibit, Richmond, VA - September 22 & 24, 2005 

Alpaca Exhibit at the 2005 Virginia State Fair
Three blue ribbons out of four entries! For more information about this show, now in its second year, please visit www.statefairva.org. Thistledown Alpacas also took part in the Alpaca Exhibition at the State Fair, from 10.00 a.m. until 10.00 p.m. on Saturday 24, September, 2005. 

Alpacas could be seen every day of the 2005 Virginia State Fair at the alpaca exhibit in Young MacDonald's Barn, from September 22 - October 2, 2005. This event kicked off with an AOBA certified alpaca show on Thursday 22, September, where we showed four of our alpacas. Thistledown returned with our three blue ribbon-winners from that show, on Saturday 24, September, from 10.00 a.m. until 10.00 p.m. Pictured here in the alpaca exhibit, modeling their freshly won blue ribbons, are Myfanwy, Iona and Skye, with the beautiful and talented Thistledown Alpacas junior showmanship team!

The alpaca exhibit at the Fair displays examples of alpaca yarn and clothing made from alpaca fiber. Each day of the Fair, two Virginia alpaca farms bring their alpacas to the exhibit and spend time introducing thousands of fairgoers to these gentle and valuable creatures. Don't miss this wonderful opportunity to get "up close and personal" with an alpaca!

Myfanwy, Iona & Skye at the Fair with their face-painted friends!
Fall Fiber Festival of Virginia, Montpelier, VA - October 1-2, 2005 

Outside view of the Thistledown Alpacas / Wool Merchant tent
We were there with our alpacas, yarn, rovings and Snowbell, one of our favorite angora bunnies, in the outside tents, spaces OO21, 22 and 22a! For more information about this festival, please visit www.fallfiberfestival.org

What a wonderful fiber festival, in a beautiful location, with great vendors and events! This is the first year we have exhibited at the Montpelier Fiber Festival & Sheepdog Trials, and are so glad that we were offered the opportunity. We brought along sport and fingering weight yarns made from 100% alpaca & alpaca/angora blends, plus alpaca/angora blended rovings, "easy spin" pindrafted rovings, made from alpaca, angora and merino, raw angora fiber and alpaca/sheeps wool felt batting for needle felting. All the fiber we sell is made from our own fiber animals, other than the small amount of suri fiber and sheeps wool used in some of our blends. 

Busy, busy!

Inside our tent at the Fall Fiber Festival of Virginia
Our children created little animals from their own imagination using needle felting techniques, and we brought along two of our award-winning alpacas (Skye and Myfanwy) and our beautiful "dilute chinchilla" french angora doe, Snowbell. We literally plucked and sold the coat off her back before the weekend was out! This delightful event brings together fiber enthusiasts and livestock breeders from VA and the surrounding states, in a friendly and informal setting, for two days of sharing information about fiber arts and livestock. There is a fiber "show and sell" tent, fiber education programs for adults and children, craft and fiber vendors, livestock displays of sheep, goats, alpacas and llamas, sheepdog trials, shearing demonstrations, a "sheep to shawl" competition, local dancers, musicians and entertainers, and above all, a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere for everyone to enjoy. We definitely plan to add this fiber festival to our event schedule for the long term!
Inside our tent at the Fall Fiber Festival of Virginia
Blue Ridge Alpaca Show, Charlottesville, VA - October 29 & 30, 2005 

Our fleece Champion, Caterina, made her first showring appearance and placed second in full fleece halter. Our four entries in the HandCrafters' SpinOff won two blue ribbons (yearling grey/juvi brown), one second place (yearling brown) and one third place ribbon (yearling grey). 

The Blue Ridge Classic Show was in a beautiful, scenic location, and the entire event was held outside under tents, with outdoor show rings to take full advantage of the natural light. Great natural ventilation and way more relaxing for alpacas than being housed inside an air-conditioned show barn where they can't see the sky! Caterina, our MaPaca fleece Champion and 2X AOBA Handcrafters' SpinOff blue ribbon-winning pinto, attended her first halter show, where she won a red ribbon in her class. Our maroon Champion Myfanwy won a blue ribbon for her fiber in the Handcrafters' SpinOff competition, with 93/100 points - only one point below the Champion! Nikos, our dark silver grey Champion, also won a blue ribbon in the Handcrafters' SpinOff, with Blush placing second and Paradigm placing third. This show was also a wonderful opportunity to take some Fall foliage pictures in Virginia!