What is Alpaca Wool ?
- Alpaca wool is a type of wool that is derived from the fibers that naturally grow on alpacas.
- These animals are known as camelids since they are similar to camels, and alpacas are native to South America.
- There are two breeds of this four-legged animal: the Huacaya alpaca and the Suri alpaca.
- The types of wool derived from each of these types of alpacas are equally prized for different reasons.
- Huacaya Alpaca: Huacaya alpacas are what most alpacas are, and the huacaya fiber is spongy with natural crimp. This texture gives the fiber an inherent elastic nature, which makes it a great fiber for knitwear.
- Suri Alpaca: Suri alpacas have long, silky hair that look like dreadlocks. The suri alpaca fiber has no crimp, making it better suited for weaving. Suris are slightly more rare than Huacaya alpacas, as the breed was designated for royalty during Incan times.
- Alpaca fiber has a storied history dating back to the ancient tribes in the Andean highlands, in Bolivia and Peru, where the alpaca’s ancestor, the vicuna, was first domesticated.
- After selective breeding of the vicuna in the Andes, the alpaca was developed as an integral part to the Inca tribes’ survival.
- The animals were raised not just for their coats but also for meat.
- Clothing made from alpaca fiber was reserved for royalty.
- Many of the alpacas died out when the Spanish conquistadors invaded the territory and deemed the Merino sheep more valuable, but in the 1800s, the English discovered the alpaca fiber and it regained popularity.
- Alpacas were exported around the world, and are raised in the United States, Australia, and New Zealand for their fiber. However, Peruvian alpaca fiber is still the most popular today .
What Makes it Stand Out
- Compared to sheep wool, alpaca wool is considerably softer & durable .
- The fibers that are used to make this type of wool are equipped with tiny air pockets, and these minuscule spaces provide enhanced breathability.
- Highly insulative highly water-resistant, and it is hard to set on fire.
Applications & Usage
- Alpaca sweaters, alpaca cardigans, alpaca socks.
- It is also a favourite material for mittens, gloves, and mats , bed sheets , blankets , hiking socks, fleeces, and other outdoor garments are lighter and more comfortable when they are made from this type of wool.
Image Reference - https://www.everlane.com/products/womens-oversized-alpaca-cardigan-charcoal
- Alpaca wool is not machine washable, as the process can damage the wool.
- Alpaca garments should always be hand washed. Soak your alpaca garment with a mild wool soap in a basin.
- After the item has soaked, gently agitate and rinse, making sure you support the weight of the item so that it does not stretch.
- Squeeze out the excess water, but do not wring so it doesn’t lose its shape, always supporting the item’s weight.
- Lay flat to dry, and make sure to reshape the garment accordingly.
- Iron on wool setting mode .