Hailing from South America, the alpaca belongs to the camelid family that also includes camels, llamas, guanacos and vicuñas. Alpacas are a docile breed whose fleece spins into luxurious yarns. More than three quarters of the world’s alpaca population resides in the highest mountains of Peru and Bolivia.
In centuries past, the alpaca was an incredibly valuable animal, even more so than precious gems! Clothing created with alpaca was restricted for use by royalty. Nowadays the alpaca has been domesticated and is treated as one of the national treasures in these countries.
There are two breeds of Alpaca
The Suri has long fibres that form long strands.
The Huacaya has a more fluffy fibre with a lot of fine crimp.
Each fibre is hollow which makes it incredibly lightweight. Even the most delicate alpaca garments are warm for this reason. Perhaps alpaca’s greatest feature is that it can be worn next to the skin comfortably. The fibre has air pockets which allow garments to be lightweight yet very insulating and warm.