Sue Mott leads a very busy life. She owns and runs three businesses: Mount Roland Alpacas, Highland Felting & Fibre Supplies and Tasmanian House of Fibre. She also manages the daily chores on the farm with her husband and daughter. Recently I went to visit their farm between Railton and Sheffield, where they run Huacaya and Suri alpacas and Cormo, English Leicester and Lincoln sheep.
Mount Roland Alpacas: Life of Sue Mott
by Michelle Kneipp Pegler
The adorable alpacas and sheep help supply Sue with beautiful fleeces used for spinning. The Huacaya alpaca is the most common alpaca you will see around Australia. It has a straight fleece, a bit like a Merino sheep. The Suri alpaca is less common; it’s fleece looks like dreadlocks!
Cormo sheep are an Australian breed and were developed in Tasmania in the 1960s. The English Leicester is a very old and now rare breed of sheep developed in England in the late 1700s; the wool has a staple length of up to 250mm (10 inches). Lincoln sheep are another heritage/rare breed sheep that have very long wool staples. Both of these sheep fleeces are popular with spinners.
Tasmanian House of Fibre, which started three years ago, is Sue’s spinning, felting and knitting supplies business. It is an online store offering many choices in fleeces including…
- Sheep (Cormo, Corriedale, Polwarth, Lincoln and English Leicester)
- Alpaca (Huacaya and Suri)
Sue Mott always sources Tasmanian first and then if needed, interstate. You can get all your coloured wool, tops/slivers/rovings and silk tops with interesting blends like soy, bamboo, hemp, mulberry and banana. There’s a range of spinning batts including…
- Paca Bling Batts (a mix of alpaca, silk, merino with added bling)
- Wild Fibre Batts (a mixture of possum or wallaby fur with merino)
- Suri-Alpaca-blend Batts
Highland Felting and Fibre Supplies
There are also spinning wheels, spinning accessories such as bobbins, niddy noddys, drop spindle kits, flickers and drum carders. Felting accessories are available too including hat shapers, felting punches and needles. There’s many more supplies online on the Highland Felting and Fibre Supplies website. Sue also sells dyes, knitting accessories, knitting yarn and books. Tasmanian House of Fibre has also supplied fleece for textile artists and has had international sales of their products.
Taylah Shae Alpacas and Handmade Textiles
Sue’s daughter Taylah has her own corner in the store where she sells her handcrafted items. Taylah has been spinning since she was nine and also crochets, knits and dyes her own wool and felts. She uses a percentage of her sales to support orphanages and uses what money she has left to breed black and brown alpacas and develop her own Alpaca Stud (Taylah Shae Alpacas).
Mount Roland Alpacas
Mount Roland Alpacas is the primary business and love of Sue Mott: breeding mostly black and grey alpacas; but she has other gorgeous colours too. I was able to meet some of the alpacas and sheep on my visit. As we walked around, Sue told me all about the alpacas and the history of each one. She really does love her alpacas! I could see they were all very happy living there on the farm. The alpacas had their little coats on to help protect the fleeces. Even the sheep had coats on!
The coloured Cormo sheep are the only recognized Tasmanian fleece breed and their coloured wool is popular with spinners. Sue has entered and won prizes for her alpaca fleeces on the mainland. One of her black Suri alpaca fleeces won in the class and then won the Reserve Champion Suri fleece at the Canberra Royal Show. At the same show, another of her fleeces came in third in its class. A great effort for Mount Roland Alpacas showing that Tasmanian alpacas are up there with the best of them. Sue has also won at the Bendigo Wool and Sheep Show with a black Suri fleece.
If you are interested in owning alpacas, Mount Roland Alpacas always have animals for sale. They make nice pets, or you may want to start a stud of your own. They are also excellent as herd guards to protect sheep and other animals from wild dogs.
Michelle Kneipp Pegler writes a blog called Leven River Farm as well as articles like this about the north west coast region of Tasmania. If you’d like Michelle to visit you, please contact Think Tasmania.