March 07, 2019 3 min read
If you’re reading this article there is a huge chance that you have probably never heard of alpaca fleece before. In fact, while a lot is known about Alpacas, there is still a lot to learn.
When discussing alpacas one of the first questions that many people often ask is what exactly is an Alpaca?
Alpacas are camelids as are llamas, vicuna, guanaco and camels.and are fully domesticated sheep that were originally from the beautiful continent of South America by way of Peru, Chile and Bolivia. There are two main types of alpaca: huacaya and suri. Huacaya is the more common of the two and has a fluffy coat. The suri coat is both lustrous and wavy; the fibre is also longer than that from the huacaya. The differences between the two are similar to those of short and long-wool sheep.
Most camelids have a double coat combining both coarse and fine hairs, but alpacas mainly have a fine, soft fleece. Some have coarser 'guard' hairs, which increase with age. Each animal produces a wide variety of hair, much more so than sheep or goats.
In earlier years, the fur of the alpaca was considered to be a rarity and were generally only worn by people who were known to have a lot of money or who came from royalty. One of the many reasons why Alpacas are so well loved is because they have been known to have gentle demeanours and to make great pets for young children because they are so calm and friendly.
Today, many parts of the world including the United Kingdom and the United States raise Alpacas. Once a year their warm fur is cut off. While many people believe that this practice of cutting of their fur is detrimental to them, the opposite is true. Alpacas do not have to be killed or injured in order to obtain their wool.
In most cases the preparation of an alpaca’s fleece begins almost immediately after the fleece is shaved off. The process begins by carefully removing the various pieces of fibre from the fleece. Once the farmer is confident that all the fibre has been removed, the fleece is rolled up and placed in an open plastic bag. It’s important to note that the bag should not tied up because the fleece must be able to breathe. After these very critical first steps it is now ready to continue the preparation process. It’s important to note that there is a common misconception that you must wash alpaca before preparing it; however, because alpacas don’t have body oils like sheep, this is not necessary. The alpacas may have a little bit of dust but that’s not enough to impact spinning. Once the process of spinning the alpaca wool; is complete, the alpaca yarn now needs to be washed.
What Are the Qualities of The Wool for Blankets?
Much like other wool in the world, the Alpaca fleece is a very warm fibre. In fact, there are many people who say that the alpaca fleece is warmer than even sheep’s wool. Its’ durability and overall light weight have also made it a huge blanket selection especially when travelling and camping. Additionally, the quality of the alpaca fibres is perfect for children and allergy prone adults as the alpaca fibre is hypo allergenic.
Alpaca wool products are such luxury items it is recommended that they are either dry cleaned or if in doubt, a professional dry cleaner is always an option.