10 Reasons to Love Alpaca Yarn
Dubbed the green sheep and the miracle fiber, alpaca gets a lot of love from knitters and crocheters. Alpacas are really cute, fluffy animals whose fleece is prized as a luxury fiber. They are tough little creatures and they have been part of our fiber story for millennia.
Is alpaca fiber really all that? Yup! Here’s ten reasons why you should you consider adding alpaca yarn (etsy link) to your stash.
- Alpaca is softer than cashmere, and you won’t have to unravel thrift store sweaters to feel good about using it.
- Alpaca is stronger than sheep’s wool. Alpaca fiber is hollow, making it firm but fine and soft. It is 7 times warmer and stronger than sheep’s wool, producing garments that last longer.
- Alpaca farming is sustainable. Alpacas are free roaming on farms and are shorn once a year. Since alpaca is a natural fiber, it will biodegrade at the end of its useful life. This might be a long time since garments made from alpaca fiber can last decades and look as good as new.
- Alpaca fiber is available in a range of natural shades. Alpacas can be white, brown, fawn, black and lots of shades in between. The variety of natural tones means you can use undyed alpaca yarn and avoid the issue of pollution from dyes.
- Alpaca is a great alternative to wool if you are allergic to sheep wool. Alpaca fiber is hypoallergenic and doesn’t contain lanolin. This means it doesn’t need to be treated and it traps less dirt and allergens. If you are allergic to sheep’s wool, wearing a sweater made from alpaca yarn won’t bother your skin.
- Great for Sensitive Skin – for all the above reasons, alpaca yarn is ideal for knitting hats and clothing for babies and children with sensitive skin.
- Can alpaca be felted? Yes, and nicely! Like all animal fiber, alpaca yarn is feltable. The result is light, soft and warm without the coarseness of felt from sheep’s wool.
- Alpaca fiber is considered naturally flame resistant.
- Alpaca fiber is naturally water resistant and water repellant. It wicks water away and absorbs very little.
- You can support you local economy by using alpaca yarn for your knit or crochet projects. Alpaca farms are easy to find and they usually sell their fiber or handspun yarn and/or supply local yarn shops.
And #11 – Bonus Reason to love using alpaca yarn: Alpacas are just too darn cute!
I mean really, this is Dr. Seuss cute right here! Do you have another reason to love alpaca? Let me know in the comments below.
I use Alpaca garments. Wool makes my skin very itchy. Alpaca is wonderful to wear light warm and no itch. It has changed my life.
My favorite yarn
I’d love to knit Norwegian Selbu mittens from alpaca yarn. Since these are very decorative, would you recomment using this yarn in place of sheep’s wool?
Thank you for this nice article which helps us as alpaca breeders get more recognition for the most incredible product produced from their fiber. One comment though, alpacas ARE NOT guard animals! They must be protected themselves. We typically uses Llamas, donkeys, or a breed of dog called a Great Pyrenees.
Great article ! However not all alpaca fiber is hollow. Suris, the other breed of alpaca has a solid shaft to the fiber follicle… and if you check out the label on any top end Italian designer men’s suit, you will likely see that it is made of Suri alpaca, as the fashion world has long known that alpaca and particularly suri alpaca is as fine as cashmere and perfect for beautiful clothing.
That sounds lovely! I will keep my eye out for this kind of alpaca fiber. It must be a dream to work with. Thanks for sharing!
Hi Judy…Huacaya fiber is also a solid shaft. Medullated fibers are hollow. They are primarily located on the nape of the neck and the brisquet (chest), belly and lower legs, at least on huacaya. Some primaries are medullated, but we breed for nonmedullated fibers in the blanket. Secondaries are never medullated. The difference between suri and huacaya is not in the fineness, but rather in the shaft of the fiber. Suri fiber has flatter scales than huacaya, thus it is more reflective, thus the lustre that we often refer to in suri. Suri typically is more of a drape fabric and typically it is blended when making garments. Huacaya is also used in fine clothing and is as fine as cashmere. Consistency in the fibers and length are desirable characteristics in order that fiber be woven into a woolen fabric, which is how manufacturers make fine gauge woven fabric.
Thank you for the article about the fantastic properties of alpaca fiber. I raise alpacas and I’d like to make a correction. There are three kinds of fiber on an alpaca. Only the Guard Hairs are always hollow (medullated). Sometimes primary fibers will be hollow and that can be to varying degrees. Secondary fibers are not hollow. It’s the secondary fibers that are used for the finest garments, although if the primaries are close enough to size of the secondaries, they will not be separated and they too will end up in the finished garment. Hollow (medullated) fibers stick out and help to protect the finer fibers from brush etc. They are separated out if the fleece gets dehaired.
We raise alpacas, and I loved your article! However, alpacas don’t make very good guardian animals, but their cousin, the llama does!
Sorry for the late reply. I admire you, I would love to raise alpacas. What a fantastic “job” and all the free yarn!
I probably have the opposite experience of most of your readers — I don’t knit or crochet, and have never used any yarns for anything. However, our family has been involved in huge local annual alpaca sharing events at many of our friends’ local farms throughout our area. So although we have lots of experience interacting with, handling, and caring for ‘pacas — and have been gifted their wool for other uses — I can’t really say anything about using alpaca yarn. LOL. But based on my experience, I wholeheartedly agree with your ten reasons. 🙂
That sounds like a great local resource and experience!
Great reasons! I have never been a fan of wool, so will give this is try InshaAllah!
I think you will love it, Nooria!
I made a scarf with alpaca and really loved it, though this particular yarn (not sure if it’s all alpaca) had terrible stitch definition. Still, it was a pleasure to work with otherwise.
I just looked it up and I think because it’s so soft, alpaca would need to be mixed with merino to get good definition. Still sounds like a lovely scarf 🙂
I agree I have just spun some Alpaca and the yarn has little definition.. just fluffy thread. I’ll see how it knits up. I just want as soft a knitting stitch as possible.
No, alpaca does not need to be blended with anything to get good stitch definition. I suspect that Shannen’s yarn did not have enough twist put into the yarn when it was spun and plyed. (Unfortunately, there is a lot of poorly made yarn out there). It is my experience that alpaca yarn needs a little more twist to it than the equivalent weight yarn made from sheep’s wool. Made with properly spun alpaca, even garments made with 100% alpaca will have noticeable stitch definition and hold their shape for ages. And a word to the wise, not all alpaca yarn labelled as 100% alpaca is that. Some does contain other inferior fibres.
The alpaca pictures are super cute! I have yet to use alpaca yarn, but I’d love to give it a try. Thanks for all the great info.
You’re welcome! I’m glad you found it useful.