Thursday, 22 August 2013
Little known facts about Alpaca Fibre
Today I thought I'd tell you a bit about Alpaca fibre... we've all heard of lambs wool and how warm it is and water resistent etc... but there is a better fibre out there, who knew! And this beautiful fibre comes from the intelligent Alpaca. (How cute is that little guy above!)
My friend Kathy runs an urban farm (with her husband and family) called Gumtree Gully and they have about 13-14 alpaca. I asked her to tell us a bit about the fibre and why it is so amazing.
Kathy: Alpaca fibre was often referred to as "the fibre of the gods" by the Incas and the best quality fibre was made into beautiful garments for their royalty. It is thought that the Incas developed their fleeces to a higher quality than even available today, and breeders are now endeavouring to return the fibre to that pinnacle of perfection.
This unique fibre comes in 22 natural shades from white to fawns, browns, greys and black. It is amazingly hard wearing and is used extensively in sock manufacture. Being a dry fleece with no lanolin, it has hypoallergenic properties and the hollow fibres make it very lightweight and very warm, 60% warmer than lambs wool in fact.
It is fire resistant and does not retain water, making it also ideal for baby clothing. If you have trouble wearing normal wool next to your skin, then there's a good chance you'll be able to wear alpaca as it has very few prickly guard hairs.
Alpaca is unusually strong and resilliant, and can be reused due to its ability to return to its original structure. Professional climbers have reported they can wear their alpaca socks for days and even weeks on end (!) with no unpleasant 'pong'. This naturally breathable fibre repels bacteria and its resulting odours. So indeed the Incas had it right, this fibre is super soft and fit for royalty, a truly luxurious product that lasts!
Now if you're a knitter or crocheter you may want to know how easy it is to knit/crochet, so I had a go and was pleasantly surprised. I found it incredibly soft to knit with (especially the pale shades) almost silky, I loved it. And crocheting was much the same, very easy to slide through my fingers and make quickly into flowers or whatever takes your fancy.
To the right is a sample of the items I've made with Alpaca Yarn:
If you're keen to have a go with this gorgeous, naturally coloured yarn, Kathy sells her wool at markets or you can contact her via Facebook or her website.
Thanks for stopping by... the next interesting item I want to tell you about is bamboo clothing... I can't wait to share my findings with you.