14 facts about alpacas and alpaca yarn
The alpaca really is a cutie. I mean, look at this adorable face …!
It’s fiber is one of the silkiest and most versatile fibers found in nature.
The fleece can be spun into alpaca yarn , fabulous for knitting. Is there no end to the awesomeness?
If you’re interested in other types of knitting fibers as well, be sure to click here to check out the articles in the fiber category!
Alpaca is a special fiber that has been described as stronger than mohair, finer than cashmere, smoother than silk, softer than cotton and warmer than goose down.
14 facts about alpacas and alpaca yarn
- There are 22 natural colors to choose from
- have very long fibers
- They are flame-resistant, or at least their fleece is.
- Their wool is water-resistant
- They grow hypoallergenic fleece
- There are two kinds of alpacas
- They can cross-breed
- They are used as therapy pets
- They share a toilet
- They were raised high above the sea
- They were domesticated by the Incas over 6000 years ago
- They dressed the royals of the Inca Empire
- They were almost extinguished in the 16th century
- They are and doesn’t get sick
1. 22 natural colors to choose from!
Alpacas occur in many different shades from white and light grey over to a reddish brown and black. Actually, there are 22 natural base colors to choose from. When blending the natural colors the possibilities are huge!
The alpaca fiber also works well with dye, just think of all the nuances to choose from when knitting …
2. Alpaca yarn have long fibers
The alpaca wool has very long fibers, actually, the fibers are between 10 and 20 centimeters long!
Depending on how it’s spun, the yarn can be lighter or on the heavier side. The long fibers make yarn from alpaca strong, and the silkiness makes it soft to the skin and shiny to look at!
Compared to the sheep wool the alpaca is less elastic and a garment in alpaca wool drapes a little different from one knitted in sheep wool.
3. Alpacas have flame-resistant fibers
The alpaca fiber doesn’t burn well, but that’s a good thing right? You wouldn’t want to see all your work go off in flames …
Actually, the wool is graded Class 1 fiber for use in clothing and furnishings in the U.S. by the standards of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
4. Alpaca wool is water-resistant
The alpaca fleece is water resistant, as is the sheep’s fleece, but the alpaca wool can also wick away moisture. The alpaca shares this quality with the merino sheep.
That makes it great for knitting outdoor garments like hats, shawls, sweaters. It will keep you warm and dry much better than most other fibers!
5. Alpaca yarn is hypoallergenic
The alpaca fleece is lacking in lanolin. This makes it hypoallergenic and also allows it to be processed without the need for high temperatures or harsh chemicals. This makes alpaca a sustainable choice, and it makes it a good choice for knitters.
6. Two kinds of alpaca
There are two kinds of alpacas, the huacaya and the suri.
Huacaya is the most common and have fluffy wool that’s more elastic and are well suited for knitting.
The wool is so thick and warm that the Huacava has to be sheared every year at springtime, otherwise the animal can be overheated.
The Suri’s long rasta like curls only needs to be sheared once a year to once every third year, and the wool is better suited for weaving fabrics than knitting.
7. Alpacas can cross breed
Alpacas can cross breed with llamas and get babies! The offspring are called huarizo and are valued for their even longer fibers.
8. Alpacas are used as therapy pets
When most people think of therapy animals they imagine dogs, but therapy alpacas are growing in popularity around the world.
Watch the video of the cutest guy ever, Ed Sheeran, the therapy alpaca!
9. They share a toilet
Alpacas use a communal dung-pile. Because of this habit, some alpacas have been successfully house-trained.
10. The alpaca are raised high above the sea
The alpaca is a camelid species and related to the llama and closest to the vicugna. It comes from the Andes, a mountain chain in South America and is held in herds on flat grassland as high as 4900 meters over the sea.
11. Alpacas were domesticated more than 6000 years ago
Alpacas were domesticated by the Incas, and alpaca fiber has been used for a very long time in the Andes. The fiber was introduced in Europe and the US during the 19th century. The Englishman Titus Salt refined the methods of preparing the alpaca wool and made it known in the form of a fabric called alpaca.
12. Alpaca – the fiber of royals
In the Inca Empire, the alpaca breeders were dedicated to producing the finest wool. They accomplished to get the 22 base colors and 250 nuances of wool from the alpacas. The quality was higher than we can get today, actually, it was considered so fine that it was only the royals who was allowed to wear the alpaca fabrics.
13. The Spanish invasion almost extinguished the alpaca
During the 16th century, the Spanish conquistadors invaded South America and Peru in their hunt for Eldorado, the Golden city of the Inca Empire.
The conquistadors demolished all they could find off the Inca Empire and all there was left was ruins except the city Machu Picchu. Located high up in the mountains the city was hidden from the Spanish and left intact, the city was rediscovered again by an American explorer, Hiram Bingham in 1911.
The city was abandoned and left to decay for centuries probably because there was no use for it after the Spanish invasion. The archeologists think that Machu Picchu was more of a country retreat for the Inca and his court than a lively city.
In the invasion, almost all the alpacas were killed, and the only ones that survived were the ones that fled high up in the mountains with their owners.
14. The alpaca – a thug one
The natural selection that was forced by living in that harsh climate is probably the reason that the alpaca still today is a thug animal. It can manage to live in many different environments, and the alpaca rarely gets sick.
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