One of the World’s Finest Fibers
Alpaca is known for being one of the finest fibers the natural world has to offer, next to its camelid cousins, the Llama and the Vicuña. It is one of our favorite fibers to use here at BONALLA, where we use it as a standalone fiber or in exciting combinations with LlamaSoft or Baby Llama. Keep reading to find out more about Alpaca and all it has to offer.
- About Alpaca
- Alpaca origins
- The Fiber
Alpacas are a species of camelids that are indigenous to South America, more specifically to the Andean heights of Southern Peru, Western Bolivia, and Northern Chile. They are often confused with their close cousin, the Llama, but they are noticeably smaller and are not bred as working animals and only for their fiber, which is also softer and thinner than the Llamas’. They are also slightly less approachable than Llamas in character, and funnily enough, spit when they are in distress or mean to show dominance.
There are two kinds of alpaca fleece. One is the Huecaya, which is the most common and the one you’ll find used in clothing the most often, and the other is the Suri, which makes up only 20% of the South American Alpaca population. The Huacaya is comparable to llama and sheep wool in that its fluffy, versus the Suri is more similar to natural silk and hangs of their bodies in locks.
Alpaca fleece is a soft, durable, silky, and very luxurious natural fiber. It is warmer than sheep’s wool and is not prickly at all, which is why we love Alpaca and BONALLA and use it to make some of your favorite wool products. 85% of all Alpaca fiber is produced in Peru, although there are Alpacas now farmed around the world to make use of their fiber.
The Alpaca is hypoallergenic, as it does not contain any lanolin, unlike other natural wools like that of sheep. It is also water-repellent and fire-resistant. The fiber is so thin and has such low micronage (19mcn), that it is almost impermeable and water tends to slide right off versus being absorbed.
A key difference between Alpaca and Llama is that Alpaca fiber is more homogenous across the animal, which means that the width and therefore quality of the fiber is more consistent across and therefore higher quality.
Alpacas are only shorn once a year during the Spring. After shearing, their fleece must be cleaned and sorted according to colors. As alpaca wool contains no lanolin (grease), it is much easier to clean in the production process of fiber to yarn.
Unlike the Llama, Alpacas do not exist naturally in a range of colors. 80% of Alpacas are actually white-furred, which means that to have them in other colors they must be dyed. Alpaca takes both natural and synthetic dye well.
Llama and Alpaca fibers are about the same width, however, one of the main differences is the diameter of the hole inside each fiber. This space is wider in Llamas than it is in Alpacas, giving their fiber an excellent insulation capacity. In practical terms, it means that when it is cold outside it is harder that cold gets through as easily, unlike wool that is completely solid it is possible to feel good both in hot and cold temperatures.
Both Alpaca and Llama do not pile, which means that when worn over time they will not create those annoying little fur balls on the surface of the garment.
The term Baby Alpaca refers to the fineness of the fiber coming from an Alpaca, NOT to the age of the animal. BabyAlpaca is the softest part of an adult Alpaca, and it usually comes from the chest or the back area.
Baby alpaca has a smaller micron count than regular alpaca, which means that it is regularly softer and more luxurious. BabyAlpaca garments do not pill or stretch, plus they do not shed in contrast to other wools. BabyAlpaca has great resilience and good crimp, which means that when it is stretched out after a day’s wear it easily goes back to its original shape. This is why we love BabyAlpaca at BONALLA and use it so often to make some of your favorite garments.
At BONALLA, we use BabyAlpaca by itself or combined with our other excellent fibers like LlamaSoft or BabyLlama to create some of the finest wool products you will find. We use it to make some of your favorite sweaters, scarves, hats, and even home-goods like blankets or pillowcases. It is no secret that Alpaca is one of the world’s favorite natural fibers, and here at BONALLA, we offer some of the best there is.
Thanks to our patented dehiring process, BONALLA offers unique high-quality fibers like BabyAlpaca that will create products that will last a lifetime. As the cold weather starts, make sure to stock up in some of our favorite pieces to make sure you stay warm and chic all winter long.