Sunday Fiber Photos: Alpacas

I've decided that in order to increase my knowledge of spinning and knitting fiber, every Sunday I am going to post a few photos and a blurb on a kind of fiber. It'll be educational, interesting, and something to keep me blogging regularly.

This week, I am covering Alpacas. It's always nice to start off with something easy, isn't it?

Most people are familiar with Alpacas for their soft, warm fleeces. In fact, they are rather famous for them. Alpacas are similar to llamas in appearance only. They aren't built to be beasts of burden, and their backs can not support a lot of weight. There are two breeds of Alpacas: Suri, the rarest, making up about 2% of US alpacas, and Huacaya, the most common.

Suri Alpaca, like those to the above, do not have crimp to their hair, making it hang down and cling to itself in long ropes rather than frizzing out like the Huacaya. Suri fiber is coveted for its softness, durability, and luster. It fetches a pretty price on most markets.

Huacaya alpaca, to the right, are much more common. Their fleece is soft, but does not have the same sheen as Suri fiber. Unlike wool, alpaca fiber does not have lanolin and so it does not repel water. However, when spinning the fleece, don't think this means that the fiber will be clean. They like to roll around on their backs a lot in the barnyard, just like any other animal.

Native to South America, specifically the Andes, alpaca are herd animals and very social. Being solitary makes them nervous, and like all pack animals will cut their lifespan down drastically. Oh, and they spit. Though it is usually a mixture of air and very little mucus, they do sometimes bring up a green grassy mixture from their stomach to use on other alpacas or humans who take away their hay.

Next Week: Guanaco


Donna Lee said...

Lovely animals. They are so very soft and their yarn is so scrunchy.

Bells said...

oh they are all so pretty. When we were driving to Sydney on the weekend, we passed a farm where they had a sign saying 'excess alpacas for sale'. Oh my. How I longed!