Husband Stephen, three
children, three dogs and
Favourite way to unwind:
The alpacas keep me
satisfi ed and content
Go-to gadget or tool:
What she loves about her
work: It’s very honest and
real, and part of the earth
Linda Nessworthy tells us how she started her alpaca farm, Quenti Alpaca, and opened an online shop selling alpaca-wool products, making a lifelong dream come true. By Leah van Deventer
While waiting for an orthodontist appointment as a young teen, Linda Nessworthy picked up a National Geographic to pass the time. In it was an article about mummifi ed alpacas that had been found in South America’s Atacama Desert. I was fascinated,’ she says. As an adult, Linda went on to become a supplier of Asian foods, but she never forgot the beautiful alpaca. When she and her husband, Stephen who was also her business partner neared retirement in 2009, she decided to import some. Two years later, they had a fully equipped alpaca farm and mill in Wellington, manufacturing and selling alpaca-yarn products.
I started off very naively. There was no grand plan to build a mill or a studio, or to learn to hand-dye I just wanted a little herd of alpacas. So I fl ew in 12 pregnant females from Chile, selected from photographs, and boarded them in Paarl while I got my head around basic care.’ In 2010, Linda and Stephen bought Klein Limietrivier Farm. We lived in an old shed now the mill while we fi xed up the house. It was either freezing cold or boiling hot, nothing much in between,’ she laughs. Once the animals had moved in, there was the question of what to do with their luxurious fl eece. We had to shear them anyway as they get hot here. Initially, I thought we’d hand-spin and make hand-knitted items. It’s very labour-intensive, though, so I couldn’t make it work pricewise and I couldn’t fi nd the staff .
LEARNING THE TRADE
The alternative was setting up a mechanical mill, so they visited several in the UK. They still have a very active textile industry there because there’s a lot of funding to prevent skills loss. At one, the owner didn’t show up and the factory manager, Paul Sykes, felt so bad that he took us around. Now he’s our go-to man. He comes out here to work every year, on his busman’s holiday. He sees the sights and we take him to nice places, and he teaches us all those things he’s long forgotten are even important.
Luckily, we found a really nice knitter locally, called Tony, who teaches us as well.’ The silkysoft throws, blankets, rugs and apparel they produce are sold via their online shop. Linda and Stephen also do tours by appointment, where visitors can meet the alpacas, view the mill and buy knitwear directly. Plus they off er specialised knitting classes.
GOING THROUGH THE MILL
The issues they’ve faced range from old-machinery quirks to producing unusable yarn, and even birthing a breech baby alpaca. This is meant to be retirement, although nobody said that retirement can’t be hard work!’ Linda’s never considered packing it in, however. When you’re in the midst of a problem, you think I can’t do this, it’s impossible, but when you have no choice you fi nd a solution. For a short time it knocks your self-confi dence, but then off you go again.
LIVING THE DREAM
Linda is very content with her second career, even if it’s not always easy. Life’s meant to be lived. You’re meant to do things that inspire you and that you love to do and that are challenging. You’re not only supposed to be happy on weekends. You just need imagination and courage. If you can imagine it, you can do it.
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