Alpaca Fiber and Its Uniqueness

Alpacas are the premier domestic animals that inhabit the country of Peru. The Moche people who occupy the Peruvian countryside have for several years domesticated the alpaca and these animals are usually to be found grazing in the southern part of the Peruvian landscape, about 3500 to 5000 meters above the sea level. Nowadays the alpaca is widely preserved in the country of Peru and one of the key reasons behind this is the fiber which is obtained form the alpacas. It is known that the alpaca fiber is available in Peru in as many as 52 natural colors and it is of enormous value in the textile industry. One of the major characteristics of the alpaca fiber is its hypoalllergic quality and in terms of texture it is extremely smooth and silky, light in weight and warm as well. It was in Peru that the Amerindians used the alpaca fiber in creating different kinds of garments initially and it is only in recent times that it has emerged as a profitable commercial product and various items made from this alpaca fiber like ponchos, sweaters, gloves, blankets and socks are sold in the world market.

Alpacas are usually white in color though there are various other colored alpacas also available like in browns and fawn colors. It is this white colored alpaca fiber which is primarily in demand especially in South America. In terms of quality the alpaca fiber is quite sleek and lustrous and its fineness is of considerable help to the spinners who find it easy to create a yarn and weave or knit through it. In case of obtaining the fleece form the alpacas it is necessary to remember that the whole amount of fleece obtained is not necessarily of excellent quality and therefore the ‘guard hair' possessed by the alpacas are to be removed before any form of spinning. Alpacas are mainly of two kinds and therefore the quality of fiber extracted from them is also different. The Suri alpaca is very well preserved for the softness and silky nature of its fleece and it comprises about 20% of the total alpaca population. On the other hand, the fiber produced by the Huacaya alpaca is quite dense and soft. The alpaca fiber may become thicker in case the animal is exposed to over nutrition. Warm clothing made form alpacas fibers are in high demand among outdoor sport buffs and its light weight and warmth are perfect for this purpose.

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