WHAT IS AN ALPACA?
Alpaca is not the most known animal in the world, since their origins are in the South American Andes mountains. Mostly all the world population of them are in Peru and Bolivia. Let us talk you a bit about them:
"An alpaca (Vicugna pacos) is a domesticated species of South American camelid. It resembles a small llama in appearance."
Grazing on the level heights (3,500 m to 5,000m or 11,500 ft to 16,000 ft above sea level) of the Andes in southern Peru, northern Bolivia, Ecudor, and northern Chile, alpacas are a herd animal.
Alpacas are considerably smaller than llamas and were bred specifically for their hair (fiber). Llamas are larger and are beasts of burden. Their fur is not as desired because it is not as nice as an alpaca.
An adult alpaca generally is between 81 and 99 cm in height at the withers. They usually weigh between 48 and 84 kg (106 and 185 lbs).
Alpaca hair (fiber) is used for making knitted and woven items, similar to sheep's wool. Blankets, sweaters, hats, gloves and scarves are common items made from alpaca wool. The fiber is also used to make a wide variety of textiles and ponchos in South America, as well as sweaters, socks, coats and bedding in other parts of the world. The fiber comes in more than 52 natural colors as classified in Peru, 12 as classified in Australia and 16 as classified in the United States.
In the textile industry, "alpaca" primarily refers to the hair of Peruvian alpacas, but more broadly it refers to a style of fabric originally made from alpaca hair, but now often made from similar fibers, such as mohair, Icelandic sheep wool, or even high-quality English wool. In trade, distinctions are made between alpacas and the several styles of mohair and luster.
ALPACA FIBER FACTS
- There are two types of alpacas; Huacaya and Suri. The Huacaya Alpaca is more of a furry type animal and the Suri Alpaca has long 'dread lock' type fiber.
- Alpaca items are hypo-allergenic
- Alpaca fiber is as soft as cashmere and lighter, warmer, and stronger than sheep wool.
- Alpacas are raised in a stress-free natural environment where they graze without herbicides.
- Alpaca fiber does not contain lanolin like sheep's wool, or grease, so it is easily cleaned in a rinse bath with natural products.
- The demand for alpaca fiber throughout the world exceeds the current supply, which makes alpaca fiber valued at ten times the price of virgin wool.
- Garments made from alpaca stay warm even when wet, making them perfect for outdoor activities.
- Alpacas are not killed to take their fiber. Alpacas are our friends. They give us a lot of yarn when alive, and when they die due natural reasons (usually by the extreme cold weather at the Andes) we take their fur to make items like pillows, rugs, bears, plus llama toys, etc.