THE JUDY STEELE SURI NETWORK
THE 2022 AWARD WINNER IS MARY LOU CLINGAN
Waywood Farm Alpaca
Mary Lou Clingan of Waywood Alpaca Farm has worked with Suri fleece for over 30 years. Her first experiences were working for Alpaca Jack’s Suri Farm and handling fleeces from their 400+ herd of Suri alpacas. She prepared the Suri fleeces for shows, as well as selling the annual fiber clip in either raw form, roving, or as yarn. Mary Lou was one of the first people in the U.S. to learn to grade Suri, traveling to Peru to work with the women who graded fleece at Grupo Inca. After returning she was willing to share her wealth of knowledge about Suri’s, at a time when little was known about the fiber.
Mary Lou also served for many years on the AOA JTCC committee assisting with the training of halter and fleece judges. She recently retired from being a S.H.I.P. evaluator after having been one of two evaluators for many years. Throughout the years she has also given seminars at Suri Symposium about Suri fiber, as well as at Alpaca Jack’s sharing her knowledge to those willing to learn, and she made sure that Suri breeders knew that Suri fleece did, indeed, have value.
The U.S. Suri Industry would not be where it is today had it not been
THE 2020 AWARD WINNER - DEB CHRISTNER
Deb Christner of Akuna Matada Alpacas has been involved with raising and promoting Suris for 16 years. She has long been an advocate to the industry by promoting suri alpacas and their fiber with uniform, dense and Grade-Appropriate fleece for the U.S. Commercial Market.
THE 2019 AWARD WINNERS - KARL & JAN HEINRICH
Long Hollow Suri alpacas was started in 2002. Karl and Jan had yarn made the first year and sold it to visitors. In 2005 they were approached to partner-up with another farm and buy New Era Fiber moving it to Tennessee from Georgia. Processing the best Suri yarn was one requirement. In 2010 they purchased a farm, bought out their partners and moved the mill to the new farm. In 2013 they were asked to make yarn for a designer in New York. She was starting a business using natural fibers to create 3-D knitwear fashion. In 2014 they presented this concept at the Suri Symposium and after 3 years they were forced to buyout the New York designer’s business and move it to Tennessee. It took over a year to re-start the production and expand the fiber mill to a size that could support production of knitwear. Their first 3-D garments were produced during the Meet & Greet held at New Era Fiber for the 2018 AOA Natural Fiber Extravaganza. Today they have about 20 patterns of 3-D garments available all sourced and Manufactured in the USA!
THE 2018 AWARD WINNER - LIZ VAHLKAMP
Liz has been involved with Suris since 2004 and today has a herd of 70 suris on her farm in Paris, MO. Liz has been a member of the Suri Network since 2005 and she first got involved with volunteering for the organization in 2007 when she joined the SN Product Development Committee.
Liz started her Suri journey as most do - she bought some breeding females and expected to sell the offspring. However, she quickly discovered that the fleece side of the business had real potential. Liz endeavored to create a yarn product that could be sold to fiber arts stores on a national level - from that was born the Salt River Mills needlepoint threads. She then decided to start a company that would offer cash for Suri fleece and make markets for all the lengths, grades, and colors of Suri. And so began the North American Suri Company in 2011. That company now purchases several thousand pounds of fleece each year, and has repeat customers from all over the world for all categories of Suri fiber, including the five lines of Salt River Mills yarns which all showcase Suri's drape, luster, and fineness.
THE 2017 AWARD WINNER - DONNA RUDD
It is no wonder that Donna is the first recipient of this prestigious award. Donna earned a Master Spinner Certificate from Olds College, and she continues as an instructor there. She is also an Olds-certified fleece sorter/grader and wool judge.
Donna has been generously demonstrating her skills at events in her native Canada as well as in the United States. She has held several workshops at our Suri Symposiums and is a delightful and encouraging instructor. In addition to those accomplishments, Donna has written several articles about using alpaca fiber published in magazines such as Spin Off and Purely Suri. It is with great admiration that we award Donna the first Judy Steele Creativity award.
HOW DO I NOMINATE SOMEONE FOR THE JUDY STEELE CREATIVITY AWARD?