Fort Ethier Alpaca Beauties

 

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Fibre

2009

"INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF NATURAL FIBRE"

   WHAT A GREAT TIME TO HIGHLIGHT FLEECES PRODUCED BY THESE LOVELY ANIMALS!

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Alpacas come in 22 natural tones from white to fawns, to grey, to brown, to blacks with various shades of each. Some fleeces are most unique. Many times, we are surprised at the color of a new arrival.

The white, cream, light to medium fawn, light greys and lighter browns can all be dyed to any hue in the rainbow. Dyes with acid bases are the main type used, but some have had success with cake icing colors, koolaid & Easter egg dyes.  Some of the darker colors have been overdyed with bright colors to give a unique hue.  A friend dyed a dark brown with deep purple & just loves the result.

Dyed & natural colors ready for mill processing.

Processed yarn from the mill.

Alpaca fibre can be blended with a great variety of other ‘yarn’ types. Polyester, linen, silk, wool, cotton, hemp, nylon, bamboo & more can be used.

Many people, who are allergic to wool, are able to wear alpaca easily. The natural ‘scales’ on alpaca fibre shafts are finer & more elongated than wool, thus decreasing the ‘prickle’ factor.  It is often referred to as hypoallergenic. 

Alpaca does nOT contain lanolin as wool does, but still has the ability to repel moisture.

Alpaca is considered to be 5-13 times warmer than wool - often compared to cashmere.  It is also lighter & stronger than wool making end products that are durable & thermal.

There is testing at a USA college that will verify some of the properties attributed to alpaca.  This is a big step in knowing more about the fibre & perhaps open more avenues for its use.

Alpacas are shorn once a year during spring. This allows time for re-growth before winter, so that they are protected from the elements during this cold season.

After shearing, the fibre is graded. The blanket or saddle area is considered the best part of each animal's fleece. Fibre from the lower belly & legs is generally coarser. Touching it will let you feel the differences- this is often referred to as the handle of the fleece - or the feel.

There are far more sheep in the world than alpaca.  Fibre from the gentle alpaca is one of the most desired natural products for exclusive apparel.  Therefore the cost of making such can be quite expensive.

What can it be used for?

Those who spin, weave, knit, felt, crochet, quilt, do hairpin lace, tat or needle felt, will thoroughly enjoy working with this fibre! Some have even used fibre in adding hair to dolls.

Care should be taken in cleaning items made of alpaca. As wool, it will felt with heat & agitation.  Most recommend gentle hand washing with mild soap (baby shampoo) & laying flat to dry.

Items can also be dry cleaned.

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