I started my undergraduate studies in 1986 in the crafts school of Petäjävesi and graduated as a weaver artisan from Arts and Crafts School of Central Finland two and a half years later. The school familiarized us with textile materials used around the world and one of those materials was alpaca. My first touch with alpaca wool was a shawl that I made from yarn imported by Tekstiiliteollisuus Oy. I dyed warp with three different colors with "ikat" technique meaning that beforehand dyed yarns form pattern to weaved fabric. The weft was sparse but it does not have be thick because of the good thermal properties of alpaca fiber. Despite being years in a household of three kids and a dog, the shawl is still the warmest warp of the house.
My interest in alpacas was waken up in school times and my mind kept returning to alpacas every now and then in the beginning of 1990s. With the internet’s help, I was able to navigate the web and search for “alpacas” allowing me admire these gorgeous animals. Meanwhile, I also tried to wake my husband's interest into alpacas. After few years, I contacted Finnish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry regarding an import permit for alpacas. Their response was deceiving as they did not collaborate, but I was surprised to learn that another person had applied for the same permit as well. Later on, I was even more surprised to learn that this "other" person was actually our present importer partner Sini Honkala.
On New Years Eve of 2002, as I restarted my search for alpacas in USA, Canada, Australia and England, I looked up Finnish search for alpacas as well. I was surprised to find out that Finland actually had had its first alpacas. Later that spring, my husband and I visited the alpacas farm in Finland. This visit encouraged me to contact the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in order to ask them to rationalize import rules.
Sini, Anne and her husband Markku Herranen and I travelled to Chile to take a look on QAI's farm and learn alpaca handling. Despite having to travel there during the Southern hemisphere winter, the experience was amazing. I will never forget standing at the foot of Andes while seeing the gleam of the lake Aconcagua in the distance.
(written in September 2004)