FOR over two years, David O’Brien from Bells Beach Beanies has been perfecting his unique product, beanies manufactured from 100 per cent alpaca wool.
“As far as I’m aware I am the only person to produce 100 per cent alpaca beanies manufactured in Australia. My beanies are currently being stocked at Swell in Jan Juc and the Anglesea Newsagency,” Mr O’Brien said.
“They’re also on display in the local artists section of the Torquay Information shop at Surf World until the end of August.”
He said the wool is grown at their farm in Bellbrae on the Great Ocean Road, located close to the world-famous Bells Beach.
“After nearly two years of trial and effort we have produced our first run of 159, 100 per cent alpaca beanies from wool grown from our own alpacas,” he said.
“They are very soft and warm and all-natural fibres and colours which is much better for the environment than dyed wool on mostly overseas manufactured beanies.
“You will find that the hollow fibre alpaca wool provides a soft warm fit that warms the air inside the fibres but is not itchy or scratchy.
“The downside of alpaca wool is that although it is soft and warm (hollow fibre) it is not quite as consistent or strong as sheep fibre which makes it difficult to manufacture.
“Much alpaca wool is hand spun and hand-knitted and it is difficult to make commercial production of 100 per cent alpaca fibre products economically viable, even though they are much better for the environment than many imported products.”
Mr O’Brien said Bells Beach Beanies are ethically and lovingly produced without exploitation of workers or damage to the environment.
“Many overseas produced woollen and synthetic products are made via the release of chemicals and colouring dyes into local river systems.
“Our present trade polices do little to prevent these products entering the Australian market and competing with more sustainably produced Australian made products. As there is no lanolin in alpaca fibre (as there is in sheep wool) there is no need to scour the wool which also reduces production run off during processing.”
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