Alpaca wool is growing in popularity and it's no wonder why. This incredible wool is referred to as the "super" wool and has been used for centuries. It is lightweight, hypoallergenic, especially soft, environmentally friendly, stain and odor resistant, breathable, and beautiful.
Sheep's wool has been the most common fiber used for clothing for a long time. Despite having the same strength, Alpaca fiber is 1/3 the weight of lamb's wool. This means that your clothing is still just as strong, warm, and wrinkle-resistant, but 1/3 as heavy. Making alpaca wool an wonderful material to work with and wear.
Alpaca wool has been shown to shrink less than cashmere and other wool products. This helps it to last longer and to maintain its shape and style over time. This means your clothing is high quality, and will remain so for a long time. Alpaca wool clothing is therefore an investment because it will last for such a long time.
Alpaca fiber is naturally hypoallergenic because it lacks lanolin, which commonly found on sheep's wool. This makes it a great choice for those with sensitive skin or for those who are typically bothered by more common types of wool.
The shape of the fibers also makes the feel less itchy and irritating which can make it more comfortable for those with sensitivities to the textures of wool-like fabrics.
The fibers in alpaca wool are naturally smooth, this makes them naturally wrinkle resistant, and extra soft. Many who find wool uncomfortable can tolerate alpaca because of this difference. Alpaca texture is often compared to the feel of cashmere, which is known for its warmth and softness.
The smooth fibers also give the wool a sheen which has been compared to silk, making them beautiful as well. The combination of these strong and soft fibers makes this natural material an incredible resource.
Alpacas are a type of camelid mammal, similar to a llama. They typically graze upon grass and can live in many different environments. Most require 1.5% of their body weight each day - which means they need about 70 pounds of grass/hay each month. This is very sustainable, many farmers are even able to rotate feeding grounds without significant issue. These are sturdy animals who are resistant to many types of illness and do well with other animals.
Alpacas are usually sheered once per year, generally in the spring time. This process is painless for them. Similar to a hair cut for humans. The average alpaca lives for up to 20 years, which means the typical alpaca produces 200lbs of wool in their lifetime. This annual yield (10 pounds) is three to four times as much wool per alpaca than cashmere goats produce.
The fibers are generally divided into three different levels. First quality, second quality, and third quality. All of these fibers are biodegradable and all natural. This makes them incredibly environmentally friendly. Because each quality can be used for different things, all are usable, which makes for very little waste.
The structure of alpaca fibers lend another excellent benefit, which is that it makes the material stain and odor resistant. Alpaca fibers naturally wick moisture from the body which keeps you feeling comfortable. Unfortunately, it is not water-proof like other wool (the lanolin makes these makes them waterproof) it is considered water resistant and still maintains heat well. In addition, alpaca wool is still warm when wet. Alpaca wool needs to be hand washed in cold water, which is not always convenient, so it is a great benefit that it is difficult to soil. Most manufacturers of alpaca clothing recommend removing the clothing while eating.
Alpaca fibers are naturally flame resistant, which means it doesn't typically melt when exposed to heat - this makes it safer than some other materials which can melt onto the skin when exposed to heat or fire and cause more extensive damage.
Alpacas are amazing creatures. They can survive in many climates and have a low environmental impact. They produce significantly more wool than other animals and the wool is of excellent quality. If you are looking for an all-natural material to use for your next project or for comfortable, beautiful warm clothing, you really can't find better than alpaca. It is softer, lighter, hypoallergenic, and more comfortable than traditional wool. The added benefits of flame, water, stain, and odor resistance make it even more desirable.