Many will remember actress, Erin Murphy who played that loveable little witch, Tabitha in the classic series Bewitched! Today, Erin is continues working in the entertainment business behind and in-front of the camera. But one might not know that Erin is a Alpaca Rancher.
I was able to chat with the stunning Erin Murphy about Bewitched, Alpacas, & her current Kickstarter project. Enjoy.
Mike Pingel: How did you become a Alpaca rancher?
Erin Murphy: I got my first 2 alpacas for ‘pet therapy’ for our little boy with autism. We fell in love with the animals quickly and our herd grew from there.
M: What was your son’s reaction to the Alpaca?
E: Our little boy, Parker, loves the alpacas. They’re such gentle inquisitive animals and they communicate by humming. They don’t always like to be touched, but they approach you on their own. In many ways, they’re similar to individuals with autism.
M: What kind of characteristics does the Alpaca have? Like a goat, dog?
E: Some alpacas are dog like, but most alpaca ranchers say they’re more cat like. If I had to describe them as similar to another animal, I’d say they’re most like a deer.
M: How much does a Alpaca eat?
E: Alpacas eat primarily grass hay (orchard) with a little alpaca hay for protein. I also feed the pregnant/ nursing females alpaca pellets and have loose minerals available at all times. About six alpacas eat the same amount as one horse.
M: Have you always knitted?
E: I was first exposed to knitting watching Agnes Moorehead knit on the set of Bewitched, but I really got into knitting after getting the alpacas. My friend actress Carolyn Hennesy was also very supportive in improving my knitting!
M: Is the Alpaca yarn the best to use in knitting?
E: I think alpaca yarn is the best for knitting. It’s soft like cashmere, but has a longer staple length than cashmere so it’s stronger. it’s a hollow fiber so it light weight, but very insulating and naturally water and fire resistant. Alpaca fiber also doesn’t have lanolin in it, so it’s hypo allergenic.
M: How long does it take to knit a hat?
E: That’s a hard question to answer. If you start from the beginning, it takes a year for the alpaca to grow the fiber, then it takes hours and hours to process and spin the raw fiber into yarn and a couple hours to actually knit the hat. I think one of the reasons, so few people offer hand knit items, is that if you really break it down and look at the time involved, it’s not a money making venture. Definitely a labor of love!
M: What do you hope to accomplish with your Kickstarter project?
E: I’m excited about the Kickstarter project for several reasons. I’m just launching my Erin Murphy Knits company and I’m looking forward to having my items available in several small retail stores for the holidays. I’m also going to be getting a portable alpaca corral so I can bring the alpacas to special ed, school, hospital and boutique visits and I’m hoping to increase the public awareness of alpaca fiber. Alpacas are originally from Peru & Chile and although alpacas have been in the US since the early 80’s, the fiber hasn’t really been promoted as much as it should be. Most alpaca items available at retail are imported. I’m interested in supporting the local economy, so even as Erin Murphy Knits expands; every aspect from start to finish will be made in the USA.
M: What kind of incentives are you offering?
E: It was fun coming up with the rewards for Kickstarter. I’m offering things that should appeal to everyone from the casual Bewitched fan to those interested in luxury alpaca accessories. I have alpaca felted soap (which is like soap encased in a wash cloth, handknit scarves, hats and baby sets and woven alpaca rugs. One of the surprisingly popular rewards is a visit to our small ranch to hang out for the afternoon with me and the alpacas (or is it the alpacas & I?).
M: Do you have a favorite or funniest moment with one of your Alpaca?
E: Alpacas are funny animals. They look like Muppets. One occasion, one of the girls leaned in to give me a kiss & spit right in my face. It wasn’t really funny to me, but was to everyone else!
M: ..and I have to ask.. for all the Bewitched fans reading this… do you have a favorite moment on the show?
E: Bewitched was just wonderful all around. I worked with amazing people on a show that was so well written and really held up over time. People have been so kind about it over the years and I feel really lucky to have a small place in TV history!
M: Where can people go to get more info on the Alpaca project?
E: You can find out more about the Erin Murphy Knits alpaca project on Kickstarter: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/erinmurphyknits/erin-murphy-knits-al… or on my blog: http://starwebsitescomerinmurphy.blogspot.com/