Welcome to Alpaca Knitting Yarns
A whole world of luxury knitting awaits your needles.
Alpaca yarn – a luxurious fibre
Alpaca’s have been prized for their fibre since Pre-Incan times due to the properties and quality of their fibre (hair).
It is classified as a rare specialty fibre, five times warmer than sheeps’ wool, more luxurious than cashmere. It is silky soft, warm and durable with unique thermal properties due to the microscopic air pockets found in the fibre, and it has more thermal capacity than almost any other animal fibre. The lightweight apparel has a very high insulation value, these pockets allow the user to breath through it on warm days, and likewise trap body heat in cold weather. It is also elastic and non-flammable. Alpaca fibre does not itch as wool often does, because it does not contain lanolin and other oils in the fleece, with a smooth cell structure, its extraordinary fineness is hypoallergenic and luxuriously soft on your skin. Excellent for babies as well as adults.
15 natural shades of alpaca fibre
Alpaca is the natural option, not everything needs to be made of artificial materials. It has a longer shelf-life than merino and any other fibres. Alpaca fibre is a natural hair made of protein and as such is biodegradable when disposed and blends back into the earth within a relatively short period of time. Alpaca fibres don’t need to be dyed, they have an infinite array of natural colours produced by blending them.
This amazing spectrum of colours delights hand knitters and industrial manufacturers alike, making it an attractive natural alternative for top designers world-wide. The versatility, strength and resilience of the Alpaca fibre allows it to be transformed into knitted and woven garments, accessories and crafts. However Alpaca is also easily dyed into a selection of lovely fashionable colours, this millenary fibre is commercially spun with state of the art technology and processed in Peru.
THE STORY OF ALPACAS
Hidden in the mists of the high Andes, a mystical and almost magical little animal – the alpaca has journeyed over five millennia, domesticated and in partnership with their human owners.
1000 years before the Great Pyramid of Giza was completed, the ancient ancestors of the Inca were measuring their wealth by the numbers of alpacas they owned, enjoying the finest garments woven from the fleece of their great alpaca herds. Members of the pre-Incan nobility were draping themselves in multicoloured robes of gossamer sheen produced from the alpaca fibre.
Alpacas helped contribute to a thriving economy
The Pre-Inca people were expanding a thriving economy built in part on the commercial value of the treasured alpacas. They were the first to use selective breeding, producing alpacas whose quality of fleece was truly magnificent, until the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors in the 17th century AD.
Survived and thrived in a changing land
The Alpaca treasured for 4,000 years, was viewed as a competitor for grazing lands of the Spaniard’s sheep, and therefore more useful as a source of meat. This deliberate decimation of the great alpaca herds would have led to the eventual extinction of these delightful animals, however as the surviving Inca’s fled to the sanctuary of the highest reaches of the Andes with their prized alpacas, in exile a much more hardy and healthy alpaca developed in the stern and demanding highlands.
Almost indestructible, fine woven alpaca garments in remarkably good condition have recently been discovered in Peruvian ruins dating back 2,500 years.
Indigenous to the Peruvian highlands they are one of the most beautiful of the South American Camelids, related to the Llama, Guanacos and Vicuna. There is an estimated 3.5 to 4.5 million Alpacas existing worldwide, 98% of them still located in Peru. Bred in altitudes ranging from 3,500 to 4,500 metres above sea level, where they withstand temperatures that fluctuate between minus 20 degrees to plus 30 degrees in a single day. There are fewer than one Alpaca per acre, in Peru, and this minimizes the impact of farming on the environment as well as giving grazed pasture time to regenerate.
Alpaca fibre is prized thanks to its natural properties. The combination of unique weather conditions and a low-protein diet allows Alpacas to grow fine hair that is comparable to the other special, high quality fibres such as Cashmere, Angora and Mohair
Alpacas are shorn every 12 -18 months yielding about 2 to 3 kilograms of fibre per animal.
The Michell group, our supplier, is the pioneer and leading company in the field of transforming this noble fibre into luxurious yarns, working harmoniously with nature, the environment and with the utmost respect for the local population.