What is Alpaca Fiber?

Not that long ago, I honestly didn’t know anything about baby alpaca fiber, nor did I know what the big fuss was about these little funky animals that look like mini llamas in sheep’s clothing.  So, it stands to reason there are a few of you out there who are new to alpaca fiber and curious about what makes it so special. Well, this one’s for you.

 

What’s An Alpaca?

Come on. How cute are these little guys?

Alpacas are these super cute animals that do really look like small, furry llamas, which makes sense because they’re related, both being members of the camelid family, which, as you might guess, also includes camels. Being related, alpacas and llamas do sometimes cross-breed, producing the highly valuable offspring, the huarizo, which has a very docile demeanor and a distinctive fleece. Alpacas themselves usually grow to be between 31 and 39 inches in height, and they weigh anywhere from right around 100 pounds to upwards of 180.

 

What’s The Fuss?

Ok, science lesson over. Here’s the skinny on baby alpaca fiber. Alpacas have these incredibly gorgeous coats that are shorn in a process very similar to how sheep are shorn for their wool. The big difference here is that alpaca fiber is even warmer and more durable than wool without the spikey feel. Plus, because alpaca fiber doesn’t have any lanolin like sheep’s wool does, it’s actually hypoallergenic, which is really great news for people like me who can’t wear wool without breaking out in hives.

Even better is that alpacas like being shorn, and the shearing process is completely cruelty-free, so everyone wins. And because the alpacas just grow new coats each year that they’re happy to have us shear, their fiber is a truly sustainable resource with an eco-friendly cultivation process. So, all in all, I have to say, an eco-friendly, sustainable resource that makes gorgeous scarves and blankets and is softer than cashmere but more durable than wool? Come on. That’s just cool.

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