Many a knitter, crocheter, spinner lust over the soft and silky fleece of Alpacas, and even more so once they learn of its fineness, thermal qualities and excellent durability despite how lightweight the fleece is! It has an amazing lustre (sheen/shine) that attracts many of us to buying jumpers, blankets, scarves all through craft fairs, farmers markets and retail outlets.
But what is it that makes Alpaca fleece and yarn so irresistible? Let’s find out!
Alpacas were first bred for their wool in the South American Andes in around 5000 BC. There are two breeds of Alpaca, Huacaya and Suri. All Treeside’s Alpacas are Huacaya and their fleece is quite dense and almost curly or crimped looking. Suri fleece has more lustre but less curly and dense and hangs in long strands down the body. There are many natural colours of Alpaca fleece including all varying shades of black, brown, white and grey. These colours are often blended together undyed as it gives the final yarn a more tonal look.
Here at Treeside we shear our Alpacas annually which is the norm; the best fleece comes from the “blanket” which refers to the shoulders, neck, back and rump of the Alpaca. Alpaca fleece is more labour intensive to produce, with one year’s fleece for Huacaya Alpacas generally produces around 2.5kg. In order to make Alpaca fleece more affordable, it is generally blended with other fibres usually Sheep wool.
Alpaca fleece is very weather resistant, making it durable and almost “travel-friendly”. The resistance Alpaca fleece has is not lost, unlike Sheep’s wool which needs Lanolin soap to keep the fleece and wool waterproof or weather resistant. Alpaca wool is commonly used in blankets, coat linings and jumpers etc; it is excellent for those with a sensitivity to wool as it is hypoallergenic, and has less of an “itchy sensation” than other wools can give.
So now that you have learned all about the lovely fleece our Alpaca friends provide, what can you do with the fleece you may have bought from us? Find out in our next blog post!
If you have any questions let us know either in the blog’s comments or comment on our post on Facebook. We’d love to hear your feedback!