8 Advantages of Knitting with Alpaca Yarn
South American Alpaca Wool has many of the benefits of sheep's wool and more. The two are very different animals that have evolved in different environments and thus, gives rise to the unique qualities of the alpaca fiber.
This elegant yarn has increased in popularity over recent years, and in this article we will explore the reasons behind its admiration, how to care and maintain it, and under what circumstances, alpaca wool is the go to yarn.
An alpaca is a South American camelid that resembles the llama, but is smaller and has a much thicker, softer and luxurious fleece.
They are bred specifically for their fiber, adored for millennia because of its soft feel, strength, and warmth. In fact, one of the key economic bedrocks of the Incan civilization was it's textile industry, based on the wool of the Alpaca.
They traditionally were bred in the heights of the Andes (mainly in Peru), but also Chile and Bolivia. That was until the arrival, and colonization of South America by the Spanish. The Spanish saw the Alpaca in a direct land competition with sheep and proceeded to slaughter them for meat, nearly to the point of extinction.
Thankfully, the Alpaca survived with the population now totaling several million in the altiplano of the Andes. In recent years, with the world rediscovering the wonders of this fiber, Alpaca farms have been popping up in the US, Australia, and the UK.
However, due to the smaller populations of Alpacas, compared to sheep or goats, alpaca wool yarn is a more expensive than that most other types of yarn. The annual worldwide supply of Alpaca Yarn currently totals around 4000 tons with nearly 90% of the production from Peru.