Making Podcast Woolful Podcast

Episode 59: Elaine Vandiver – Army, Motherly calling, Hula Hooping and Old Homestead Alpacas

June 2, 2016



Sponsor: Yarn Along the Rockies is a yarn crawl on the front range of Colorado that features 18 shops from Colorado Springs to Boulder. YATR spans 9 days from August 20th – 28th. Yarn Crawl participants can take a Passport Tour of participating yarn shops for a chance to win one of five grand prizes as well as enter to win prize baskets at each store and participating shops will each have a free pattern available for crawlers as well as a free shop pin. If you visit 4 stores or more during the 9 day yarn crawl to get a free commemorative stitch marker. If you’re a Colorado resident or visiting in August, you don’t want to miss this fiber community event. Visit for a printable list of participating shops and more info on this exciting event. And find them on Instagram @yarnalongtherockies.


Fiber folk: When I first met Elaine and heard a bit of her story, I knew it went much deeper, and I wanted to hear her full story…about life and fiber. This conversation left me in tears, touched by the intense journey Elaine and her husband Mike have been on and how it’s led them to a very special farm in Walla Walla, Washington. You can find Elaine on Facebook at Old Homestead Alpacas and on Instagram @oldhomesteadalpacas.

oldhomesteadalpacas_1 oldhomesteadalpacas_2 oldhomesteadalpacas_3  oldhomesteadalpacas_8oldhomesteadalpacas_4oldhomesteadalpacas_5



Sponsor: Old Homestead Alpacas is a beautiful homestead built in the 1870’s, located in Walla Walla Washington and now owned and operated by Elaine Vandiver and her husband. They’re creating a wonderful and welcoming place, with visions to live off the land and share their goods with their local community and beyond, including their gorgeous alpaca fiber and yarn. Mark your calendars for a special event happening at Elaine and Mike’s farm, Old Homestead Alpacas. On June 18th they’ll be hosting their second annual open barn event, a day full of fun, fiber and some great history. So if you’re in the Walla Walla area, it’s worth the visit to meet and get to know both Elaine and her fiber family. I encourage you to visit Old Homestead Alpacas on Facebook, on Instagram @oldhomesteadalpacas and their lovely shop full of alpaca goodness at


In Residence: I’m excited to share a new weekly addition to the Woolful podcast, In Residence. Each quarter we’ll be joined by a farmer, designer, entrepreneur and artist in residence…discussing topics and questions asked by you the listeners. In Residence features the best of the best in business, farming, knitwear design and fiber arts and this is your opportunity to ask and learn from these incredible folks. 

This Summer quarter we welcome Entrepreneur in residence Veronika Jobe of YOTH, Farmer in residence Tamara White of Wing and a Prayer Farm, Photographer in residence Kathy Cadigan and Designer in residence Mary Jane Mucklestone. 

So now it’s up to you, these wonderful women are ready to answer your questions and discuss your areas of interest. Do you have a question or topic regarding farming, knitwear design, fiber business or photography that you’ve always wanted to know more about? Email them to and later this month tune in to hear their answers. 


Giveaway:The winner of last weeks giveaway is Julia DeBoer, you’ve won the Nancy vest project kit from Sunday Knits. Congratulations!

This week’s giveaway is sponsored by Old Homestead Alpacas and they’re giving away a skein of their small farm Suri Alpaca yarn, homegrown in Walla Walla Washington. To enter, leave a comment on this blog post. 


Music by Jónsi.

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  • Reply Leslie June 2, 2016 at 5:34 pm

    I just visited Boulder so did my own personal yarn crawl. Wish I could go back!

  • Reply Kelley June 2, 2016 at 6:24 pm

    I can’t wait to listen to Elaine’s story. Love following her on Instagram! And I’m off to Colorado for the first time later this month – so excited to check out some of those yarn shops.

  • Reply Brittany June 2, 2016 at 6:49 pm

    What an amazing story! I am spinning some gorgeous black alpaca fiber from Old Homestead Alpacas right now.

  • Reply Arianne June 2, 2016 at 7:08 pm

    I’d love to win. What a heartfelt podcast.

  • Reply Marina Gvozdeva June 2, 2016 at 7:22 pm

    Wonderful episode! such an inspirational story! Wow!

  • Reply Michelle June 2, 2016 at 7:53 pm

    Elaine’s story about her journey in life so far was extremely moving and touched my heart. As a Mom, I know if I was in heaven, I’d be looking down proudly on how Elaine preserved through the dark times of her life. Her strength and the love & support of her husband will make their homestead, raising alpacas & reaching out to other Vets the success that they are working towards a reality. It takes time but I have no doubt they will be happily rewarded for their dedication & hard work. Best of luck on your continued journey in life.

  • Reply Meagan Radford June 2, 2016 at 8:26 pm

    Wow, thank you so much Elaine for sharing your touching, real and inspiring story. You made me cry and you lifted me up. I wish you all the best in your personal and creative journey.

  • Reply Inês June 2, 2016 at 10:30 pm

    Those alpacas are too cute!

  • Reply Sarah June 2, 2016 at 10:42 pm

    I love these podcasts and can’t wait to listen to this one

  • Reply Maureen June 2, 2016 at 10:51 pm

    I started my fiber journey (as a sheep farmer) after my mom passed, too, and identified with much of Elaine’s journey in this regard. My mom was a wonderful knitter (and a gourmet cook) and I would love to have been able to share the wool from my flock with her, to see what treasures she could have created. Even though it took me half a lifetime to get here, as I grow my own dreams, it’s a little bittersweet at times. Best wishes to Elaine and Mike for continued success and growth.

  • Reply Nicki N June 3, 2016 at 4:13 am

    Looking forward to listening. Might listen on the way home from work rather than on the way there, in case I cry!

  • Reply Laurel Gervitz June 3, 2016 at 4:26 am

    Such a great episode. I really enjoyed it.

  • Reply Lori June 3, 2016 at 5:39 am

    I love what Michelle and Meagan above said, this truly touched my heart so much. Elaine I wish you forever success with your farm and alpacas, your beautiful life. Sending hugs from California.
    Xo Lori

  • Reply Judy June 3, 2016 at 8:33 am

    I have no doubt that Elaine and Mike will continue to grow and to realize even more dreams they don’t know about yet. I love the Veterans program they are starting and hope that more and more people start to realize the importance of the movement to return to the land and making. I will now follow along on their journey and I wish them the very best of luck. Thank you for bringing all of us their story of resilience and discovery.

  • Reply Nicole Curtis June 3, 2016 at 8:41 am

    I love how Elaine decided to go along with what came up in life.

  • Reply Rain June 3, 2016 at 9:04 am

    I haven’t listed to the podcast yet, but those sweet alpaca faces drew me right in! I love Walla Walla and can’t wait to hear how Old Homestead Alpacas are making it an even better place! Thanks for the generous giveaway!!

  • Reply Nikki June 3, 2016 at 10:03 am

    What an absolutely moving life tale. I’m near speechless, just a beautiful journey to such a pure place. Blessings for continued success and personal growth and fulfillment Elaine!

  • Reply Erin June 3, 2016 at 11:20 am

    Mmmm, alpaca yarn….

  • Reply Yasmin June 3, 2016 at 1:17 pm

    Really great episode! Thank you!

  • Reply Alex June 3, 2016 at 3:03 pm

    I found Elaine’s story very inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing it.

  • Reply Julia June 3, 2016 at 9:05 pm

    Quite an epic journey, thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Dee June 3, 2016 at 9:23 pm

    suri alpaca is so wonderful.

  • Reply Ramona June 4, 2016 at 3:29 am

    What a moving story about her journey into the fibre world. I’m glad it all turned out in the end. Best wishes for continued success.

  • Reply Barb June 4, 2016 at 4:52 am

    Great episode, so interesting Elaine came to yarn craft from the yarn source the animals!

  • Reply Suzi June 4, 2016 at 4:59 am

    Loved the podcast!

  • Reply Susan June 4, 2016 at 7:56 am

    so appreciative of Elaine’s willingness to be so open and share her story. Had me in tears, as well. Her fiber looks beautiful! I am loving your podcast and look forward to each new episode. You do a wonderful job allowing the space for your guests to tell their stories. Thank you!

  • Reply Zeta June 4, 2016 at 9:25 am

    Great episode!
    And can these alpacas be any cuter?

  • Reply Kristina June 4, 2016 at 5:30 pm

    A beautiful story of kismet, it had me in tears!

  • Reply Sharon June 4, 2016 at 7:01 pm

    Love having an alpaca farm nearby! It’s so to have locally produced yarn.

  • Reply Brenda F June 4, 2016 at 7:35 pm

    What a special story. Thank you for sharing their story. The alpacas are just adorable and seem full of personality!

  • Reply Ruby June 4, 2016 at 10:20 pm

    Yeah! Walla Walla! I’m from the east side and will love it forever. Wish I could make that open barn!

  • Reply Elise June 5, 2016 at 7:37 am

    Another amazing podcast and personal journey to cherish! Loss and grief connect us just as joy and fullness do. I’m proud to be part of this fiber community.

  • Reply michelle June 5, 2016 at 10:23 am

    Great story–and great to see how much was achieved through a positive attitude

  • Reply Kimberly Watts June 5, 2016 at 12:54 pm

    I absolutely loved listening to this episode. Hearing that Old Homestead Alpacas is so close to home for me made it even more exciting. But I really enjoyed Elaine’s story. So inspiring. I hope someday to stop in there at their ranch and get to know them. She’s living a dream I’ve had brewing for years now. So wonderful that time placed it in their hands. Thanks for being so inspiring and for sharing your story. Maybe I’ll even win a skein of your alpaca history. I too am a spinner and knitter and know the beneficial therapy they bring; and the work that goes into it.

  • Reply Astrid afKlinteberg June 6, 2016 at 7:48 am

    Such a touching interview. I was able to be with my mother as she died and it touched my heart to hear Elaine’s experience. Thank you.

  • Reply Johanna Giesbrecht June 6, 2016 at 8:29 am

    What an amazing journey! So glad you have found a home in the fibre community.
    And I just love that photo of the rainbow over the farm.

  • Reply Frida Asmussen June 6, 2016 at 11:04 am

    Such a wonderful episode. I was listening to Elaine Vandiver telling her story while cooking dinner and choked up several times. And it was not because of the onions I was chopping. So astonishing that she went from being a soldier to being an Alpaca farmer. My very best wishes to Elaine and her husband in all of their Alpaca endeavors.

  • Reply dorinalouise June 6, 2016 at 2:37 pm

    Elaine has a beautiful story and I really wish her and her husband all the best.

  • Reply Lisa June 6, 2016 at 3:55 pm

    This is the first podcast that brought me to tears. What a hard but lovely journey!

  • Reply LuisaM June 6, 2016 at 4:14 pm

    Another great episode, thank you!

  • Reply Susan M June 7, 2016 at 5:49 am

    LOVE your podcasts!!

  • Reply Jody G June 7, 2016 at 7:28 am

    Wonderful episode. Thank you Elaine for sharing your life story, thank you for inspiration and my deepest thanks and admiration to you and Mike for your service to our country.

  • Reply Tiffany W June 7, 2016 at 7:36 am

    I loved hearing Elaine’s story. Her expression “to pivot” is a good visual for many who have to change directions in life. I am envious of the homestead and having a farm. To find an old Homestead and preserve it is saving a piece of our history. The story reminds me a little bit of my heroine, Beatrix Potter on how she took up farming and try to preserve the land around her.

  • Reply Cathy B June 7, 2016 at 2:27 pm

    Loved the photos too. Thank you for the giveaway.

  • Reply Sirena June 7, 2016 at 3:45 pm

    Amazing story & an inspiration for someone like me who hopes to one day be a first generation farmer!

  • Reply Danielle R. June 7, 2016 at 7:21 pm

    This was a truly wonderful episode. Elaine’s joy and strength was evident in the way she imparted her story. I felt tugs at my heart strings as she described the challenges in life similar to my own and it was inspiring to hear how she met them and made something wonderful of her life. I LOVED the way she reflected on the absence of knitting/crocheting at various times in her life. The craft really does serve as a coping skill and now that I have it, there is no turning back!

    I live in Washington and hope to make my way out there one day (will miss open barn because it’s the same day I graduate).

  • Reply Karen Collins June 8, 2016 at 4:13 am

    Great podcast. Thank you to Elaine and her husband for their service. And, good luck to the homestead and the farm! I have a daughter (also a knitter) who lives in Tacoma. Hoping she and I can visit and check out the Airbnb too.

  • Reply janet June 8, 2016 at 4:28 am

    This episode truly tells a journey. Best wishes for you and Elaine.

  • Reply Ady Grafovna June 8, 2016 at 6:07 am

    I love this story!

  • Reply Tamara B. June 8, 2016 at 6:42 am

    It is every week such a treat to listen to your podcast, always interesting, always inspiring..

  • Reply Abigail B. June 8, 2016 at 7:51 am

    Ah, I love alpacas. Thanks for this great conversation with Elaine. Heading over to their etsy page now…

  • Reply Karen Mullen June 8, 2016 at 10:59 am

    Thank you for your service and I know you mom is so proud of you . I’m like you, it took me a while to feel comfortable to craft whether others around me or not were doing it to 🙂 I found groups that do what I like to do and now I’m unstoppable 🙂

  • Reply Lauren Vraets June 8, 2016 at 11:10 am

    This was a fantastic podcast episode. Elaine’s story was very moving – sad at times but she has a positive spirit and sounds like she has found something that makes her soul happy. Thanks for sharing this story.

  • Reply Danielley June 8, 2016 at 1:44 pm

    Just discovered this podcast, and I’m in love. I’m bingeing on older episodes and can’t wait to hear this one!

  • Reply Barb Brown June 8, 2016 at 4:15 pm

    Tears, pride, admiration and love are a few words that come to mind! Your mom IS so proud of you! Thankful for your sharing of journey!

  • Reply Susan June 8, 2016 at 4:57 pm

    I found it very striking that as Elaine told her story, she kept remarking ‘This would have been a great time to have taken up fibre crafts.” Understanding the therapeutic qualities of fibre and handwork, it’s very inspiring how she’s giving back by offering space at the farm to other veterans.

  • Reply Karin June 9, 2016 at 2:39 pm

    Listening to your podcast for the first time… so glad I found you…looking forward to listening to all the episodes.

  • Reply Kate June 9, 2016 at 5:04 pm

    I was so inspired by Elaine’s story – currently in Seattle, my husband and I dream of smaller-town life one day soon! Can’t wait to take a road trip over to Walla Walla for some wine and wool!!

  • Reply Andrea June 11, 2016 at 5:35 am

    Just found your blog and podcasts. Loved every minute. Will be tuning in for each episode. Thank you!!!

  • Reply Susan June 22, 2016 at 6:18 am

    Thank you for sharing this charming fiber journey. I love the Woolful podcast and look forward to each delightful episode.

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