Jessica’s Fiber Filled Journey

Big Dog Alpacas ImagiKnit Yarn Shop Omaha #joyfiberarts
Worsted weight, Big Dog Alpaca fiber #joyfiberarts

Many of you know Jessica or have seen her around the shop. Originally from Maine when she was 18 her path from Maine to college in Southern California took her through Nebraska. At the time she remembers thinking, “I would never ever never ever live in this state!” Flash forward some years and she and her family find that they are celebrating their 5th year here in the state that has become home! Jessica decided if she wanted to learn more about Nebraska and the people who live here why not find at least 12 Nebraska Fiber Artists or Farms and feature them each month for the whole year by knitting a project from their yarn or fiber. (For more on her year long adventure, follow #joyfiberarts on Instagram.) While she is currently on her 9th month, Big Dog Alpacas was her featured artist in month 6. Below is an excerpt from her interview with Big Dog Alpacas owner Ken Lemke. 

When did you get started as a fiber artist and who were your first alpacas?

Ken Lemke with his pals.

“Around 6 years ago I purchased an acreage near a friend who has one of the premier alpaca operations in Nebraska (Alpacas of the Heartland/Sheri and Mike Jacoby).  Tempest, Inara, Konkur, and Frangelico were purchased from them. Tempest and Inara were pregnant and Penny Lane and Sargento Pimienta were born on my farm.”

What is the story behind the names of your alpacas?

The original four were named by their previous owner/breeders.  I named my alpacas (all born on my farm): Bungalow Bill, Sun King, Penny Lane, and Sargento Pimienta.  Sergeant Pepper was already taken by someone else in the registry, so I loosely translated in Spanish. The common theme…Song titles by the Beatles! (I’m a child of the 60s…)”

What do you like to create the most out of fiber?

I really like the rugs, but the retail price is pretty high. Other than the rugs, yarn and roving is the primary

Janis feeds dogs and alpacas a favorite treat, carrots!

product.  My fiancé Janis has taken up knitting, as has my daughter, so I let them use all the product they want. I also supply “second cutting” to any who want to put it out for the birds in the spring.”

What do you like most about Nebraska?

I’m more or less a native.  Family roots are all here, although I was born in Tacoma.  We relocated when I was just a couple months old and have been here ever since,  except while stationed elsewhere with the US Air Force.  I like it because you get all four seasons here. People are friendly, not a lot of troublemakers. Mostly we love our football.” 

Ken and his beautiful alpacas were also featured in a local paper spread that was done a couple years ago.  It’s a fun read. The photos here of Ken, Janis and the animals are from the article with the Washington County Post Tribune & Enterprise.

If you’d like to keep up with Ken, his alpacas and his dogs, follow his Facebook page!