Thanks to its softness, alpaca yarn has been compared to cashmere. The shiny silk touch and its lightness make it even more desirable. Alpaca wool is also a resistant and comfortable material. Characterised by extraordinary aesthetic and practical qualities, it is ideal for the production of outerwear or knitwear.
The alpacas belong to the camelid species and are part of the secular history of the Andean populations. These animals love cold extreme temperatures, typical of the southern areas of Peru, today inhabited by about 80% of the worldwide alpaca population.
Paintings on rocks dating back over 8000 years, showed the first interactions between the native Peruvians and these extraordinary, curious and smart animals. According to historians, alpacas were domesticated between 4000 and 5000 BC. The Incas venerated alpacas, persuaded they were a gods’ gift to improve men’s livelihood. The local communities consider alpacas significantly precious animals, since they represent an important resource as transportation and sustenance, but also due to their thick coats, which give very soft and fine fibres.
Alpaca fibres are extremely light, fine and delicate, therefore they should be handled with great care. To create softer and more resistant, elegant garments, while remaining equally warm, alpaca wool is often combined with other natural fibres such as cotton or silk.
There are two alpaca breeds among the Peruvian mountains; the Suri is the rarest one, slightly smaller than its camelid cousins, it boasts a particularly shiny, long and silky undercoat whose colour ranges consist of nearly twenty shades, from white to all shades of brown, up to greys and even intense blacks. Once a year, between November and March, the shearing of the precious undercoat takes place. A peculiar characteristic of alpaca wool is the absence of lanolin which therefore makes it naturally hypoallergenic. Alpaca is a valuable high quality yarn for its resistance, elasticity, water repellence and warmth. It can be easily worn without hassle by those who are sensitive to ordinary wool.
Care and maintenance
Softer, stronger, warmer and lighter than merino wool, alpaca is a suitable choice for winter garments and accessories. Alpaca garments are also resistant to "pilling" and do not shrink, so if handled with care they will last for decades. Experts recommend plunging alpaca garments for 3-5 minutes, gently sliding the foam through the weft. As with any other fine wool garment, it is preferable to hand wash with mild soap. Avoid twisting, squeezing or rubbing, since that could cause felting. After washing, rinse the garment twice in cold, clean water. For optimal drying, place the garment between two towels and roll up the extremities to absorb the excess water. Then spread it back to its original shape and let it dry away from sunlight and direct heat sources. If, after drying, the garment is twisted or misshapen, it is possible to gently steam it with an iron or alternatively hang it in the bathroom and let the steam from a hot shower soften the creases.