There are many aspects of alpaca that differentiate it from other animals and its luxurious fiber from other fibers.
Meet The Alpaca
Jump to minute 17:00 for the start of a nice video about alpacas and the american market.
Alpaca fiber has a naturally wonderful handle, a soft feeling natural fiber that you can wear next to your skin. Alpaca is warmer and stronger than the fiber of other mammals, light weight, and very water resistant.
Yocum-McCall Testing Laboratories has shown alpaca to be three times warmer than sheep’s wool. Alpaca is more heavily medullated, tiny hollow areas in the centers of the fiber which work as an advanced insulator while making alpaca lighter in weight than many other fibers.
Another study showed that if worn in a 0 degree F environment, alpaca would give a 50 degree F comfort range. Sheep’s wool would provide a 30 degree F comfort range in the same environment.
Alpaca is naturally water resistant. Wear a vest of jacket made out of alpaca and watch the rain just run off of it, naturally!
Alpaca naturally is also odor resistant. This is a fun aspect of wearing alpaca socks! Put them to the multi-day-no-wash-test! Let us know how long you went! :)
Alpaca is lanolin free, unlike sheep wool. It's easy to process and does not require pollution oil dissolving chemicals. Even with the harsh washing, many people are still allergic to the leftover oils in sheep wool. Not a problem with alpaca, because it was never there to begin with! the tiny individual scales seen on alpaca fibers are smoother and lower than those on the fibers of other mammals.
Alpaca is more hypoallergenic. People who cannot wear wool often can alpaca with no allergic or "prickle" reaction or feel.
The smooth quality of the scales on alpaca fiber make alpaca garments more resistant to pilling (those little fuzzballs that form on wool clothing).
Alpaca is naturally flame resistant! More so that plant or synthetic fibers. A top choice for firemen! It won't melt into your skin if exposed to high temperatures.
Alpaca is more resistant to wrinkling, shrinking or felting than cashmere. With good care, alpaca garments can and have lasted a lifetime, perhaps becoming a family heirloom!
Processing yields for alpaca is as high as 95% with alpaca which can be twice as high as sheep wool.
There are two types of alpacas. Huacayas have crimpy, bundled fiber and a fluffy look when in full fleece. Suri fleece falls in long, lustrous locks or ringlets which move freely as the animal walks. Under the microscope, it can be seen that the surface structure of suri fiber is lower than that of huacaya fiber and the height of the scales of huacaya fiber is slightly higher and has a steeper edge angle than that of suri fiber. This gives suri fiber a slicker, softer hand than huacaya.
Alpaca comes in 22 gorgeous natural colors ranging from white to true black and including delicate beiges, vicuna-like fawns, luscious rich browns and a full range of grays. For those who want other colors, alpaca accepts dye beautifully.
Alpaca is a versatile, warm, strong, water resistant fiber which is produced on a gentle, hardy animal. Alpacas are ‘green’ animals, easy keepers that are light on the land, having soft padded feet with toes rather than hooves. This makes alpacas extremely friendly for the environment and ideal fiber animals to raise on small acreage.
There are a lot of unique and useful aspects to the alpaca!