Alpacas in the News, Florence, Colorado

Salidan wins blue at Taos Wool Festival

I Salida yarn artist Lucy Swift displays the sweater and jewelry set that earned her first place prizes in the Taos Wool Festival Oct. 2, 2010. Swift made the sweater by knitting natural alpaca yarn [from Phantom Canyon Alpacas' yarn shop in Florence, Colorado] in raindrop and moss stitches. Dyed mohair and merino wool provide colorful trim and accents. Swift used crochet and macrame in creating the jewelry set, including necklace, earrings, bracelet and rings.

The Mountain Mail - Salida, Colorado - Friday, October 22, 2010

By Jessica Wierzbinski, Mail Staff Writer

Lucy Swift of Salida won two blue ribbons for her fiber handiwork at the Taos Wool Festival Oct. 2.

Sponsored by the Mountain and Valley Wool Association, the festival drew roughly 150 artists who showcased about 200 handmade items. Participants were limited to two items entered in competitions.

Categories included household objects, toys and things to wear.

Falling into the worn goods category, Swift's two first place items were a multi-stitch, multi-color sweater she said took her a month to create and a crochet and macrame jewelry set she completed in three days, excluding time it took her to conceptualize the set.

Festival rules specified contest items must be made from 100 percent American made materials. A special prize for artists using only materials from Colorado, New Mexico and Texas encouraged use of regional resources.

Swift said she used exclusively Colorado wool. She used 100 percent alpaca wool yarn from Phantom Canyon farm in Florence. Much of her dyed yarn came from Lonesome Stone Natural Fiber Mill & Yarn in Granby and was purchased at Serendipity Yarn and Gifts in Buena Vista.

Festival rules required items entered in the contest be entirely unique. Objects made from patterns weren't allowed.

"The creative design has to be all yours," Swift said. ''You won't see anything like these on the planet."

With 40 years of knitting and crocheting under her belt, Swift said she makes much of her own clothing. She said she never sells her items, although many of them are still in Zacapa, Guatemala, where she moved from two years ago.


Phantom Canyon Alpacas gives farm market educational show

The Florence Citizen, July 24, 2008

Besides being able to purchase fresh produce, food, arts, crafts, potted plants and cut flowers, the Florence Farmers' Market also provides a different educational opportunity each week.

At the July 17 farmers' market the Beckmans with Phantom Canyon Alpacas will display items made from alpaca wool and demonstrate various uses.
On July 24 the Pueblo Raptor Center's staff will be at the market offering educational demonstrations and displaying several birds.

The farmers' market is open every Thursday until Sept. 25 from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Pioneer Park.


Local family displays their work with alpacas at Farmers Market

Charlotte Burrous, The Daily Record
July 25, 2008

FLORENCE - When they moved into the community in 1999, it was with the idea of raising miniature goats. But when that didn't work out, they discovered alpacas.

"They're so beautiful and the fleece is very, very soft," said Liz Beckman, who owns Phantom Canyon Alpacas with her husband, Ron.

The couple brought two of their alpacas along with a variety of merchandise to display during the Florence Farmers Market on Thursday at Pioneer Park.

Several years ago the couple purchased a pair of female alpacas from a farm in Coaldale. Since then, the Beckmans have purchased one or two others with several that were born on the farm, sired by a nationally famous alpaca named" Avatar," Beckman said.

"Every year, we shear them and use the fleece to make yarn, " she said. "We make rugs and quilt batting. From the yarn, we can make hats, blankets, scarves and sweaters."

Their wares are available from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday at the Alpaca Yarn & Gift Shop at 403 CR 142 in Florence.

According to the organizers, the first season of the market is going well.

Most of us who have been active in organizing it have been very pleasantly pleased, said John Myracle, who co-manages the market along with Joann Mohr. "It's taken off pretty well. The number of vendors have increased. People are, by and large, pretty happy with it."

The market offers a variety of items, including vegetables, crafts, arts and a special event on a weekly basis.

"There's something for everyone," Myracle said. "Next week, we're going to have the Raptor Center. People from all ages from little kids (up) are fascinated by the raptors."

Upcoming attractions include dulcimer music by Bob Sears next week, and jewelry making by Ann Sears of Ann's Art Annex July 31. Wolf pups will also be a special attraction in the future.

The Florence Farmers Market is open from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursdays through the middle of September.




Alpaca Yarn & Gift to open doors this weekend

Charlotte Burrous, The Daily Record, September 27, 2007

Charlotte Burrous The Daily Record

FLORENCE - Owning alpacas provided a resource to open a store on their property.

As part of the National Alpaca Farm Day, Ron and Liz Beckman will host a grand opening for Alpaca Yarn & Gift Shop at Phantom Canyon Alpacas this weekend.

The grand opening will be celebrated in conjunction with farm day, which will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at 403 CR 142 in Florence.

The store offers "quality, unique gift items, including hand-felted hats, hand-woven area rugs (made in Texas), teddy bears, throw blankets, scarves and socks, all made from alpaca wool," Liz said in a press release. "For those knitters, crocheters and quilters, we are offering alpaca yarn in a variety of weights and gauges and quilt batting. We will be able to order a variety of additional clothing options and yarn colors via special order."

The couple has collected items for the past seven years in the alpaca industry while going to shows. Liz also creates a variety of items from the alpaca yarn.

"Most of the items in here are from our farm. " Beckman said. "All of the yarn is 95 percent from our animals."

On Farm Day, everything will be 25 percent off, Ron said.

The couple renovated part of his shop to build the gift shop.

"We wanted to do the most cost-effective thing," he said. "I took one-eighth of my shop and rebuilt it. "

Alpaca Yarn & Gift Shop is located at 403 CR 142 and has random hours. Customers are advised to drop by or make appointments to shop the store. The telephone number is 784-4544.


Florence family turns alpaca herd into new business

The Florence Citizen, September 27, 2007

By Michelle Marriott Citizen staff writer

A new Florence store opening Sept. 29 offers its customers an educational experience and also something warm, soft and cuddly.

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 29 and 30 [2007] Florence residents Ron and Liz Beckman and family will hold the grand opening of their Alpaca Yarn & Gift Shop, located on their farm at 403 County Road 142. The Beckmans planned the grand opening to take place in conjunction with National Alpaca Farm Day. National Alpaca Farm Day's purpose is to raise awareness about Alpacas and to offer anyone interested in the animals the opportunity to learn more, according to the National Alpaca Farm Day Web site. The Beckmans invite the public to attend their store's grand opening and to take time to visit the alpacas the family has at the farm.

After learning about the alpacas, the farm's visitors can visit the yarn and gift shop where crafters will find a variety of colors of alpaca yarn, alpaca fleece quilt batting and rovings, which is processed fleece that hasn't been spun into yarn yet. For those who aren't into crafts the store also offers pre-made items, such as rugs, purses, teddy bears, hats, scarves, bowls, alpaca paintings and more.

The Beckmans moved to Florence from Virginia about eight years ago. When they came to Colorado they knew they wanted property with land, Ron said. Then later while looking online Liz found information about alpacas and they purchased three animals. That was six years ago. They still have Calvin, a stud who was one of their original three animals and along with their alpacas they also are boarding some alpacas that belong to other people.

With the alpacas they are boarding on their property people visiting the farm will have the opportunity to see the difference between the two types of alpacas, which are huacaya and suri. All the alpacas the Beckmans raise are huacayas, which have a sheep like fleece, Ron said.

The Suris are a rare type of alpaca that has a fleece that looks like dreadlocks, he added. Out of 100,000 registered alpacas maybe only 10,000 are Suri, Liz said.

Alpacas are raised for both their fleece and meat [correction: they are only used for meat in South America, generally not in the U.S.] but the Beckmans have chosen not to raise their animals for slaughter [American alpaca breeders raise them for their fleece and to sell the offspring]. Instead they shear the fleece on their animals once a year as the weather starts to get hot and send it to a processing plant to make yam, rovings and other materials. From each animal they typically get around 3 to 8 pounds of fleece. The texture of alpaca fleece has been compared to cashmere, Ron stated.

Collecting fleece isn't the only work involved with alpacas as the Beckmans regularly feed and water the animals they also schedule regular health days for the animals. On these days the animals are weighed, their condition is checked and they make sure each animal is up to date on its vaccinations.

While they are camelids they typically do not behave like their relative the llama does, Liz said. They do spit at each other when fussing over food, she added. They generally don't spit at people, she stated.

"We enjoy raising the animals," Liz said.

They are gentle like deer, she added. Since they are smaller they don't consume as much hay as horses or cows do, she said.

When they are not working with their alpacas the Beckmans design Websites, logos, magazine ads, business cards and do custom programming and email marketing. They almost exclusively design Web sites for other alpaca breeders, Liz said. Ron and Liz also have three children.

For more information about the Alpaca Yam & Gift Shop and alpacas or for directions to the store visit their Website at or call (719) 784-4544.


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