By Jessica Micallef
Vivienne Grigg makes clothing and blankets from alpaca’s fleece. The Riddells Creek resident spoke to Jessica Micallef about her company Yaamba Alpacas and her involvement at the Riddells Creek Farmer’s Market.
What is your connection to the Macedon Ranges?
I grew up in Riddells Creek. My father and mother came up here in 1960. We’ve been here for quite a long time. Terry [husband] and I moved away for a short period after we were married and then we came back and raised our children in this area because it’s a lovely country atmosphere.
My father and husband were always into horses. We always had horses around and when Terry and I came out here and bought this property, we wanted something a bit more environmentally friendly on the ground [something] that’s not as hard as hoofed animals such as cows and horses.
What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about alpacas and passionate about their fleece because I do a lot of craft, spinning, knitting and creating things with their fleece. It’s easy to work with, it’s extremely soft. It’s got a real feel to it.
You can’t help but fall in love with them [alpacas]. It’s a different industry, it’s a very close, supportive industry.
Tell me about Yaamba Alpacas
Yaamba Alpacas started in 1999 when Terry and I bought this place. We didn’t want sheep or cattle, we wanted to have something on the land that we could work with. We saw alpacas originally in the 1980s at the Royal Melbourne Show. We looked at them and we were very curious about them. We went to a workshop and that’s when we decided what we could do here – we could breed alpacas and breed for the quality of their fleece. It was something I could do on my own and handle because they are easy on the land. They’re very calm, peaceful animals – they don’t push through the fences, they don’t dig up the land. They’re quite unique animals compared to others.
You’re a stall holder at the Riddells Creek Farmer’s Market – how long have you been involved with the monthly event?
I’ve been doing the market for about 14 years now. They invited us down there to bring along some alpacas as a display. We took along some raw fleece and some yarn to show because people are quite curious as to what we do with alpacas.
My eldest sister then moved down from Mildura and she’s an avid knitter, the same as I, and we started to get inquiries about knitting a jumper or hat, which we did. It’s grown every year since then. We love the interaction with people. It’s our hobby, our craft.
What products do you sell at the market?
We sell children’s wear, from baby to the start of primary school-aged – hats, booties, jackets and jumpers. We do hats for adults, and scarves.
What challenges do you come across being a stall holder and working with alpacas?
Sometimes it can be a time thing. It’s also being able to have enough fleece to be able to turn into yarn.
What would people be most surprised to know about you?
I think a lot of people that know me are quite surprised I do spinning. I suppose because it’s an old craft.