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About us

Tracy owns alpacas and Kari-Helene is a specialist knitwear designer.  Between us, we bring you an exclusive range of garments that enhance your natural shape and are a joy to wear.

Kari-Helene Rane

Kari-Helene RaneFrom early childhood in Norway, Kari-Helene was surrounded by knitting. Both her grandmothers and her mum knitted and throughout her childhood, she was never without lovely, warm garments. It was however her sister’s 1980s jumper (made out of leftover yarn) that provided early inspiration for possibilities within knitwear design.

Kari-Helene moved to England in 2002. She attended Kingston University and in 2005 she graduated with a B.A. (Hons) Degree in Fashion Design. Her final collection primarily consisted of knitted garments and it was awarded runner up in The Knitted Textile Student Award in October 2005. After a few years of freelance work for various designers and publishers such as Daniel Blake, Modernist and MQ Publications, Kari-Helene met Tracy in 2007 and the Purl Alpaca story started.

Kari-Helene offers one on one tuition at a cost of £20 an hour. Tuition can take place in any suitable London location. She can also offer group tuition. Price to be discussed. You can contact Kari-Helene via her email, kari-helene@purlalpacadesigns.com.

Tracy Birch

Tracy BirchTracy has had a varied career including actress, legal assistant, recruitment consultant, business development manager and proprietor of a candle factory. You can see her making candles at YouTube. After selling her business, she work at the National Grid; after being made redundant, she decided to go to university to study for a degree. Tracy commuted for the first year, then moved to Cambridge in 2004 and graduated in 2006 with a B.A. (Hons) Degree in Communication Studies. She used her inheritance to buy some alpacas and saw there was an opportunity to develop an exclusive knitwear business using alpaca fibre bought from local alpaca breeders. By researching on the internet, Tracy found Kari-Helene’s final collection and the fact she had used alpaca fibre, convinced Tracy to contact her. They met in London in October 2007 and are thrilled with their collaborative projects.

We are very environmentally aware and actively trying to keep our carbon footprint as small as possible. Most of our fleeces have come from alpacas living within Cambridgeshire, with a top up from Devon. The fibre itself is, of course, a totally natural product and keeping alpacas is a very low carbon enterprise, requiring only an absolute minimum of such things as fertilisers or fuel. Our spinning is carried out by The Natural Fibre Company and we source our packaging material from sustainable development providers.

You can interact with us in many ways. We have a Facebook page, a Twitter account, a group on Ravelry and a profile on Pinterest. Come join the fun!