Alpaca & Fiber Info
Known as "Gold of the Andes", Alpaca is a South American native species that has high resemblance to a small llama. Alpacas mostly live and breed within the Andes ranges in Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Chile. Their natural habitat is very cold as they live nearly 16,000 ft above sea level.
Alpacas have been highly valued for their fiber since thousands of years. Living in herds atop the mountainous range of the Andes, these creatures are often bred in captivity for the sake of their luxurious fiber, which is used to make high quality of sweaters, cardigans and a lot more!
Alpaca Fiber and Its Features
The composition of Alpaca fiber is very similar to human hair. However, the presence of microscopic air pockets makes this fiber very warm, providing it with natural insulation properties.
Alpaca fiber is considered as one of the most luxurious fibers and it contains a number of features that make it unique and different from other types of wool. These qualities are:
Types of Alpaca Fiber
The two most common breeds of Alpaca are the Suri Alpaca and the Huacaya Alpaca, both of which are valued for their fiber. Huacaya Alpaca has soft, small, and spongy hair that is crimped, making its fiber very elastic and perfect for knitting winter clothes. Suri Alpaca, however, has straighter and silkier hair, which is mostly used for the production of woven goods.
The quality of the Alpaca fiber varies due to the thickness of the fur. The quality usually ranges between 18-32 microns, with 18-22 being the finest variety. The most luxurious types of Alpaca fiber are Premium Baby Alpaca (also known as Royal Alpaca) with approximately 18 to 19 microns; and Baby Alpaca with approximately 22 microns. Baby Alpaca refers to fur that is shorn off a fully-grown Alpaca for the very first time. This is the finest quality of Alpaca fiber that is very soft to touch and highly durable for long-term usage.
Alpaca Boutique products are made of Baby Alpaca, the finest Alpaca in the world.
Precautions when Purchasing Alpaca Products
Customers buying Alpaca products should always be aware of buying items made with low quality Alpaca fiber, as it can result in a coarser production output, where the clothing made from poor quality fiber is no longer smooth to touch or silky. Products using low quality Alpaca fiber are often similar to products made from sheep's wool, with a rough texture. These low quality products also tend to shed hair excessively.
Why is Alpaca Considered "A Gift from Nature"?
One of the best features of Alpaca products is that they are usually free from artificial dyeing and coloring. This is because Alpaca fur is naturally available in 22 colors, ranging from black, grey, and brown, to white and many colors in between.
Although Alpaca fiber can be dyed according to customers' preferences, most high quality manufacturers tend to produce sweaters, jackets and other items from pure and natural fiber that is left in its original state without coloring for a genuinely softer and glossy look.
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