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Alpaca Fiber

Alpacas are a lifestyle choice with benefits and opportunities for the whole family. As more and more people are discovering, raising alpacas can add a dimension to family life that many find to be just what they have been looking for in terms of relaxation, fun, and a potential source of income. The escape from a fast-paced urban lifestyle to the quiet, pastoral surroundings of raising and breeding alpacas is a prescription for healthier, less stressful living!

Alpacas are colorful, soft and gentle animals that provide companionship to anyone and are safe for even small children. Many find the content humming sound produced by Alpacas to be a soothing therapy after a long day in the office or just to relieve everyday stress. Most livestock farming activities require killing the animals for meat or hides. With Alpacas, you don't kill them and they can't kill you.
Alpacas are sheared once a year, each animal produces about five to twelve pounds of raw fleece. Alpacas produce one of the world’s finest and most luxurious natural fibers. Soft as cashmere, warmer, lighter and stronger than wool, it is recognized by the worldwide fiber market in 22 natural colors. Ranging from pure white through fawn, browns to a true black. Colors shade out from steel blue to pale silver and even a vibrant rose-gray, and mahogany!

Alpaca has a natural, rich luster, with a silky feel. It is seven times warmer and three times stronger than sheep's wool and does not feel scratchy like other animal fibers. Their fleece does not contain lanolin and does not have guard hairs, making cleaning and processing very simple and enjoyable. While alpacas come in many natural colors - more than any other fiber-producing animal - their fiber retains its luster even when dyed with non-chemical dyes. Alpaca fibers are sought after by fiber artists for spinning, weaving, knitting, felting, lock hooking and many other fiber arts. Used alone or blended with other fibers, such as cashmere, mohair, silk, wool, angora or cotton, alpaca products are a luxurious pleasure both to the eye and to the touch.

If alpaca is plied with a high crimp wool, both fibers must be washed as singles. The wool has a tendency to shrink more than Alpaca and can produce a spiral yarn if this isn't done. An easy way to produce a designer yarn if that suits your requirements!

Alpaca fiber is 3 to 6 inches in length, depending on the shearing method and schedule. The micron count ranges from 15 to 35, with the first clip from crias being prized for its fineness. Fleece weights range from 3 pounds for crias to 10 pounds for mature males. Alpaca is easier and less expensive to process than sheep's wool due to its lack of lanolin. It produces a higher yield of clean fiber after processing - 87 to 95 percent versus 43 to 76 percent for wool.

Alpaca is as light, soft and as glamorous as cashmere, yet much less expensive and more easily acquired and processed.

Alpaca fiber is considered to be hypo-allergenic, especially the ultra-fine, premium grade products.

Alpaca is a HOT fashion commodity!
Several prominent fashion designers increasingly use alpaca. Retail merchants regularly feature alpaca fashions, such as sweaters, scarves, socks, vests, dresses, tuxedos, and dress suits. Additionally, alpaca may be used in home fashions and fabrics (like draperies, upholsteries and rugs) - where alpaca's durability can be exploited in a very stable existing market.

Alpaca Fiber Attributes:

• Light weight
• Versatile as all season fiber

• Lack of prickle factor - Smooth handle
• Low scale height
• Non-Allergenic

• Absorb moisture
• Natural regain on 15%
• Comfort factor - Absorbs moisture from skin and air
• Stays warm even when wet

• Fire resistant
• One of the least flammable, difficult to ignite
• Slow spreading flame, easy to extinguish
• Bead like ash, doesn't stick to skin

• Lack of lanoline (easier to clean)
• Has suint (repels dust / water)
• Luster that can rival silk
• Comes in 22 natural colors

Alpaca Fiber Grades:

Grade 1 Ultra Fine ‹ 20 microns
Grade 2 Superfine 20 - 22.9 microns
Grade 3 Fine 23 - 25.9 microns
Grade 4 Medium 26 - 28.9 microns
Grade 5 Intermediate 29 - 32.0 microns
Grade 6 Robust 32.1 - 35 microns

Updated December 11, 2015