New Jersey, home of the most people per square mile, the most horses per person, and…a thriving alpaca fiber industry. What can surprise you about this state anymore?

It’s true. The New Jersey Alpaca Community has more than 35 member farms, active in breeding (and showing) the critters and harvesting their wool for luxurious yarns. An exemplar of this setup is Windy Farm Alpacas in Chesterfield, which offers year-round sales of alpacas, yarns and hand-knitted items, as well as tours and knitting and felting classes.

The charmingly large eyes and crooked teeth of Amanda

The charmingly large eyes, hay-strewn coat and crooked teeth of Amanda

We visited to procure a Christmas present highlighting local and sustainable farms, and left with several skeins of yarn from Amanda, a gingerbread-colored female with the longest eyelashes of the herd. It was a cute tour, with hand-spinners at work, gorgeous hand-knit sweaters, unusual gift items and pastures full of charming animals. We thank owner Jackie Armiger for the poignant experience.