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Put Through the Mill

Gunther and Els Willems of Alpaca Tumulus in Belgium talk us through the ups and downs of building a mini mill from scratch.

First of all we never had the intention of starting up a mill. When I met my wife, Els, ten years ago one of the first thing she said was that someday she wanted alpacas, nothing more. She had a shoe shop and I was working in IT, so totally not connected with wool, fleeces or yarn. After a few years we bought two alpacas and it grew so that now we have a group of 40.

After a while we started to get our fleece made into yarn. We visited a couple of mills and were fascinated by the transformation from a fleece into yarn, but nothing more. After a couple of years we started to follow courses and learned more over the alpaca and the wonderful fleeces they have and started joking, fantasising that we might start a mini mill. But why would we do it? I had my job and I was sure at the end of the month that I had my wages. But then, after 16 years working for the same company, suddenly my bosses decided that I was redundant.

Now was the moment, I had no job so nothing could hold us back. She said yes immediately and at this point the rollercoaster started.

First I told Els I wanted to have a time off to think about what I wanted to do because I was a little tired of working in IT. So after a couple of months I asked her if she still wanted to start a mini mill. Now was the moment, I had no job so nothing could hold us back. She said yes immediately and at this point the rollercoaster started.

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