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What does this woman in Nebraska do in her free time? She runs an alpaca ranch and a yarn store.

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By BRIAN GNUSE, KHGI

ALMA, Neb. (CIRCA via KHGI) — There are a lot of great hobbies out there. For one Harlan County, Nebraska, business owner, she prefers anything to do with fiber arts.

Back when she was living in Chicago, Tashia Butterfield took a crochet class just to have something to do.

It didn't take long before she started learning about alpacas and other animals that can be used for fiber projects.

Every Tuesday afternoon now, the three members of the Harlan County Stitchers 4–H Club meet at Tashia Butterfield's Alpaca store and Yarn Shop in Alma to work on their crochet projects.

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An alpaca says hello to the camera at Tashia Butterfield's Alpaca Ranch in Alma, Nebraska.

"The reason this club came about is because in 2016, there were no entries into the county fair for fiber arts from the kids," Butterfield said.

Club member Isabelle Bewley says learning crochet has not always been easy.

"Right when I started it kind of made me get cramps in my fingers because I did know what I was doing, and I would mess up a lot," Bewley said.

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Tashia Butterfield, left, teaches crocheting to Isabelle Bewley, center, and Kaylan Ogier at her yarn store.

"I like working with the kids because they are so excited to do it," Butterfield said. "I have had a lot of people come my way to learn crochet, but the kids are quite different. They get really excited, and they try so hard, and they get so serious."

Club member Elizabeth Cole is working on a three-color scarf.

"So far, I am about one-fourth done," she said. "When you are finished, it is really fun to look at what you have done."

Club member Kaylan Ogier is working on a large scarf for her dad and hopes to have it ready for the county fair.

"I like learning new things, especially stuff I can do over break, and so it is something fun and calming to do." Ogier said.

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Tashia Butterfield, right, teaches crocheting to Elizabeth Cole at her yarn shop.

Butterfield didn't start crocheting until she was an adult. She first taught herself, then later taught adult classes at a Chicago yarn store before moving to Nebraska in 2012 to raise alpacas.

"Sometimes I wonder what are they going to be and how might this experience influence who (these kids) are going to become and what they choose to do with their life," Butterfield said.

For the three 4–H members, crochet is just a hobby, but for Butterfield, it has turned into a lot more.

"Crochet started it all for me," she said. "If it wasn't for crochet, I would not have been teaching at that local yarn store where I learned about natural fibers. That lead me down the rabbit hole to alpacas, and my whole life took a totally different trajectory because of crochet."

In addition to her yarn store, Butterfield also has about 30 animals at Butterfield Alpaca Ranch.

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Tashia Butterfield hopes to increase her herd of alpacas from about 30 to 200 animals.

"Doing chores part of the day, running a shop part of the day, doing marketing — all year round, there is always something to do," she said.

Butterfield eventually plans to increase her herd to about 200 animals and have her own line of alpaca yarn.

For now, she is enjoying her Nebraska life and helping inspire her 4–H club members.

"No matter what their dream is, they can just go do it," Butterfield said. "They can set their sights on it and figure out how to get there and that they can do what they want to do."

When you start a new hobby, you never know for sure where it will lead. Like Butterfield, it could even lead to your own alpaca ranch.

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