BEND, Ore. - A Bend-area woman has been making quite the variety of clothing from her own alpacas.
Susan Evans Inman has raised alpacas for 15 years and knitting has become second nature to her. She started knitting during World War II, when she was 7 years old. With the help of the fleece from her alpacas, she creates different materials.
Inman has knitted items such as hand warmers, shawls, blankets and scarves from her alpacas's fleece. It can take her months, even years to finish a large shawl because of time and the nature of the fiber. Through her business, Flights of Fancy Farm, she only uses alpaca fleece because it is very fine, making the finished material very soft and surprisingly strong.
"They are real labors of love. They take so long," Inman said Sunday afternoon. "And with lace knitting, you have to be so careful, because you make one mistake and you have to rip, sometimes rows, in order to correct your mistake and then get back on track."
Though she doesn't spin the fleece, knitting is now muscle memory for Inman.
She said the alpacas aren't hard to take care of. They just need good food, water, a yearly veterinarian check, and a little love.
"They're gentle, curious, and a little wary," Inman said. "They follow me right out. My husband called me the Pied Piper -- whether I had food or not, they would follow me --and that was kind of nice."
Inman, who has named each and every one of the alpacas, said she wouldn't call them pets, exactly but they still mean a lot to her. They always come forward when grain is involved.
Inman said she's currently knitting a shawl, and she has to yank on the yarn to do a part of the design, and it has never broken.
Inman said she will continue to make handmade clothing and take care of her alpacas, as the two go hand in hand.