Alpacas are domestic animals belonging to the camel family. They live in South America (Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Bolivia) in the highlands, in the Andes. Alpacas are considered rare animals. They are bred only for the sake of wool, in the highlands of Peru it is an important export item. Alpacas are sheared every two years and get only 1-1.2 kg of wool from one animal, so it is expensive. Alpaca wool is not completely cut, but is removed from the back and sides. It is necessary to leave some of the fur to the animal for heating, because the living conditions in the mountains are very harsh.
Alpaca is a very cute animal that lives in the Peruvian Andes. Today there are two types of animals: Alpaca Huacaya – the most common species, similar to a small fluffy bear and Alpaca Suri. The latter is more rare. His wool is considered to be of the highest quality, and therefore valuable.
The growth of alpacas is not more than a meter, they weigh about 70 kilograms and have a long (on the sides its length reaches 15-30 cm), soft wool.
Many thousands of years ago, these animals were domesticated by the inhabitants of the South American Andes. The ancient Incas were able to appreciate the wool of these animals for its unique properties and noble color. This wool was even their local currency.
Alpaca wool among the Incas was worn only by tall persons. But the new inhabitants of South America, the Spaniards who came from Europe, brought sheep with them, and the alpaca was immediately underestimated. And only after almost four centuries the former popularity of alpacas returned. Since the 80s of the last century, they have become seriously interested in animals. Peru is the largest supplier of alpaca wool today.
Alpaca with its appearance resembles a llama, alpaca wool is one of the most expensive. Alpaca wool, which has unique properties, is used to produce fabric. Alpaca combines the best properties of wool from llamas and camels. Luxurious alpaca fabric is soft and warm. It has 22 natural shades ranging from pure white to black. Therefore, wool is most often not dyed.
Compared to the wool of sheep, alpaca fibers are stronger and warmer, so this unique wool is durable, and in addition, it is unusually light. Since alpaca wool is soft and smooth, it does not cause discomfort when it comes into contact with the body. Due to the listed properties, alpaca fabrics have antiseptic properties and do not cause allergic reactions, as well as do not wrinkle or stretch.
Many woolen fabrics are prone to felting and rolling, but alpaca products are devoid of these disadvantages, moreover, they are resistant to pollution. Alpaca protects not only from the cold, but also from the heat – this is also its uniqueness. It is not hot in alpaca products in summer, and not cold in winter.
Today, alpacas are bred for the purpose of obtaining wool, which is sheared from animals once every two years. An adult animal produces up to three kilograms of high-quality wool for one haircut. The sorting process is done by hand, so the wool is of unrivaled quality. After sorting, dirt, sand, etc. are removed from the fibers. Next, spinning begins, after which the material is thoroughly washed, removing the remaining dirt and grease. After all stages of processing, the wool can be dyed if necessary.
Alpaca wool is distinguished by its unusual lightness, unique brilliance, amazing softness, while it is thin and dense enough at the same time not to let water through. For such valuable characteristics, the locals call alpaca wool “divine fiber”.
Special properties of this wool:
- Alpaca wool is straighter than camel or sheep. This amazing coat is significantly lighter in weight and is also silky with a fine sheen. It is very important that it retains its unique silky shine for the entire service life of the product.
- This wool is very warm (seven times warmer than sheep wool). It has very high thermoregulatory properties (at any air temperature, it maintains an optimal body temperature).
- Alpaca wool is very durable (three times stronger than sheep wool). On warm clothes made of this wool, even after prolonged wear and washings, no pellets form, and it does not fall off.
- This wool does not contain lanolin and other organic fats, so dust mites do not live in it and products stay clean longer. Alpaca wool is hypoallergenic.
- Alpaca wool fibers contain small curls that give the animal’s fur softness and tenderness. Unlike the scaly and therefore prickly fibers of sheep’s wool, alpaca fibers are smooth and extremely comfortable on the body.
- This wool has the largest range of natural colors – 22 shades: from black, gray, brown, burgundy, cream, silver to white (the most valuable). The animals themselves are painted in the desired color.
No other type of wool has such features.
There are two known alpaca breeds: Wakaya and Suri.
The Huacaya is a more numerous breed that looks like a fluffy bear cub. Most often this is what they mean by the name “alpaca”.
Suri is a rare breed. They are only 5% of the total alpaca population. She’s very valuable.
The Suri runo consists of longer and thinner fibers (19-25 microns) – these are uniform and thick curls, straight along the entire length and slightly curled at the ends, they do not contain guard hairs that reduce the quality of the rune. Suri’s wool is particularly soft and graceful. In ancient times, it was used only in the clothing of royalty.
Alpaca wool can be used for both dry and wet felting. For wet felting, it is better to mix it with other wool, merino, cashmere, for better felting.
- Scarves, caps, hats
- Coats, jackets, jackets, sweaters:
- Blankets, blankets, carpets, fabrics
Alpaca wool fiber can also be used for self-knitting of the same products, it all depends on the craftswoman-needlewoman.
Fabrics made from alpaca wool are used for sewing coats, jackets and other wardrobe items. In this case, the wool of young animals is used, for the manufacture of carpets – of older individuals.
Alpaca wool types
Depending on the diameter, alpaca wool is divided into several types:
- Royal alpaca -19 microns
- Baby alpaca -22.5 microns
- Very soft alpaca -25.5 microns
- Adult alpaca -32 microns
Of all the types, Baby Alpaca wool is considered the best.
Alpaca Wool Care
How to store products? Some wool products do not tolerate mothballs, including alpaca, so use cedar, lavender or tobacco to keep moths away.
Washing wool or alpaca wool
Wash in cool water with a special detergent. After washing, things should simply be squeezed in your hands, and not squeezed by twisting. Dry away from heating appliances, avoiding sunlight. Then lay the garments on a flat surface with a cloth such as a terry towel underneath, giving it its natural shape, aligning the sleeves, side seams and other elements.
When the product is left in this position for a while, the remaining moisture will transfer from it to the towel. Then, in the same way, you can put this product on the same, but dry cloth. In this position, the product should dry completely. This will avoid deformation during drying.
You can iron if necessary. But this process should be performed even more carefully and through a damp cloth. To restore the lint, rub over the garment with a soft sponge or brush. Alpaca wool products can also be dry-cleaned.
Alpaca wool for its excellent quality confirms the high price. Many sports firms also paid attention to this material. Due to its ability to thermoregulate, wool is used for sewing sportswear.