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DANBURY, Conn. -- Stew Leonard's is carrying a specialty brand of hand-knit alpaca accessories and toys, in a program that supports a regionally-based farm that raises the South American-based members of the llama family.
The independent, based here, will feature a special event on Dec. 2 at its store in Yonkers, N.Y., at which representatives from the Ideuma Creek brand of alpaca knitwear will be on hand with some of their animals, educational information, and an assortment of items, including finger puppets and animal hats for children, and mittens, gloves, scarves, socks, and hats for adults.
The alpaca products range in price from $1.69 for the puppets to $24.99 for handmade slippers.
The alpacas, which are and originally hail from South America, live on a farm in northern Westchester County, N.Y. Once a year they are sheared and their fleece is sent to Peru to be woven by local women into knitwear that's three times warmer than wool, durable, and easy to care for.
"More than 60 percent of alpaca babies die in their primary native country of Peru, so the importing and breeding of alpaca in North America is not only important for saving these precious animals, but it is important to increase the awareness of the luxurious fleece they produce," said Dee DelBello, who formed a partnership with an alpaca farmer in upstate New York and a manufacturing and production manager in Florida and Peru to start Alpaca Brands LLC. Their Ideuma Creek Alpaca Knitwear label is one of the lines carried by the company.
There are 60,000 alpacas registered in the United States, according to the Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association.
Stew Leonard's has three stores in Norwalk and Danbury, Conn. and Yonkers, N.Y., with a fourth store planned to open in early 2007 in Newington, Conn.