What is an alpaca?
How to Start
Alpacas sheared once a year, each animal produces
about five to twelve pounds of raw fleece.
Alpacas produce one of the worlds finest and most luxurious natural
fibers. Soft as cashmere, warmer, lighter and stronger than wool,
it is recognized by the worldwide fiber market in 22 natural
colors. Ranging from pure white through fawn, browns
to a true jet black. Colors shade out from steel blue to pale
silver and even a vibrant rose-grey, and mahogany!
Alpaca has a natural, rich luster, with a silky feel. It is seven
times warmer and three times stronger
than sheep's wool and does not feel scratchy like other animal
fibers. Their fleece does not contain lanolin and does not have
guard hairs, making cleaning and processing very simple and enjoyable.
While alpacas come in many natural colors - more
than any other fiber-producing animal - their fiber retains
its luster even when dyed with non-chemical dyes. Alpaca
fibers are sought after by fiber artists for spinning, weaving,
knitting, felting, lock hooking and many other fiber arts. Used
alone or blended with other fibers, such as cashmere, mohair,
silk, wool, angora or cotton, alpaca products are a luxurious
pleasure both to the eye and to the touch.
If alpaca is plied with a high crimp wool, both fibers must be
washed as singles. The wool has a tendency to shrink more than
Alpaca and can produce a spiral yarn if this isn't done. An easy
way to produce a designer yarn if that suits your requirements!
Alpaca fiber is 3 to 6 inches in length, depending on the shearing
method and schedule. The micron count ranges from 15 to 35, with
the first clip from crias being prized for its fineness. Fleece
weights range from 3 pounds for crias to 10 pounds for mature
males. Alpaca is easier and less expensive to process than sheep's
wool due to its lack of lanolin. It produces a higher yield of
clean fiber after processing - 87 to 95 percent versus 43 to 76
percent for wool.
Alpaca is as light, soft and glamorous as cashmere, yet much less expensive and more easily acquired and processed.
Alpaca fiber is considered to be hypo-allergenic,
especially the ultra-fine, premium grade products.
Alpaca is a HOT fashion commodity!
Several prominent fashion designers increasingly use alpaca. Retail
merchants regularly feature alpaca fashions, such as sweaters,
scarves, socks, vests, dresses, tuxedos, and dress suits. Additionally,
alpaca may be used in home fashions and fabrics (like draperies
and upholsteries) - where alpaca's durability can be exploited
in a very stable existing market.
[Source: Alpaca Owners & Breeders Association]
Alpaca Fiber Attributes
° Light weight
° Versatile as all season fiber
° Lack of prickle factor - Smooth handle
• Low scale height
° Absorb moisture
• Natural regain on 15%
• Comfort factor - Absorbs moisture from skin and air
• Stays warm even when wet
° Fire resistant
• One of the least flammable, difficult to ignite
• Slow spreading flame, easy to extinguish
• Bead like ash, doesn't stick to skin
° Lack of lanoline (easier to clean)
° Has suint (repells dust / water)
° Luster that can rival silk
° Comes in 23 natural colors
|Alpaca Fiber Grades
|| Ultra Fine
|| ‹ 20 microns
|| 20 - 22.9 microns
|| 23 - 25.9 microns
|| 26 - 28.9 microns
|| 29 - 32.0 microns
|| 32.1 - 35 microns
[Source: Coarse Broads]
How to get started?