Louise Martin
Tuesday, October 12, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 7:10 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

The day Louise Martin retired from her secretary job in the Graduate Studies Office of Curriculum and Instruction at MU, a group of faculty members, staff and students she knew and loved gave her a floor loom as a farewell present.

That was the beginning of her adventures with weaving — using wool sheared from the alpacas she and her husband raise. Now three years into weaving lessons, Martin said her family members and friends request and buy her alpaca purses, scarves, shawls, place mats, belts, tablecloths and blankets.

Her husband started the alpaca herd with a male and four females in 1995. Through helping her husband take care of the llama like animals, Martin, 66, grew to love them. She not only knows the names of all 26 alpacas on the Ashland farm but also can quickly tell them apart. Some of her favorites are Starbrite, Starbuck, Angel and Angelina.

“I do think they know their name,” said Martin, who refers to herself as “Granny” when addressing the animals.

Even before retiring, Martin intended to take up weaving, knowing that alpaca fleece can be used for making garments. She said she never thought she would enjoy it as much as she does.

“At first I did not know anything about a loom,” she said. “But I have never found weaving difficult. It is just time-consuming.”

Aside from weaving, Martin keeps busy by building and maintaining several databases on alpacas.

— Cathy Chou

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