Alpaca Fleece – Basic Information
I taught hand spinning for several years. I also judged alpaca hand spinning and fleece shows and served as superintendent for alpaca fleece shows. I served as the judge of the Junior Spinners Contest at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. Now that my husband and I live in Florida, I continue to be an avid hand spinner and knitter and do hand spinning demos at various events. Unlike some alpaca breeders, I never claimed to be an expert on alpaca fleece while having no experience of working with it myself. I have no use for self-proclaimed alpaca fleece experts who do not hand spinners, knitter, and/or don’t even wear alpaca from their own animals, preferring the imported Peruvian product.
Alpaca is at least 3 to 5 times warmer than most sheep wools and much finer than most sheep wools – therefore it should not be itchy. And, alpaca fiber contains no natural grease such as the lanolin contained in sheep’s wools. You don’t have to wash the fleece in hot soapy water 10 or 20 times before you can spin it. Most hand spinners spin raw, unwashed alpaca into yarn, and then wash the finished yarn. Alpacas come in 22 natural colors from white to gray to black, brown and fawn and all kinds of colors in between.
It’s wonderful to make a garment that comes from all-natural alpaca fleece with no chemical dyes on it and no mystery fibers blended in. Most imported alpaca products are dyed with chemicals. And don’t believe it when you’re told that 100% alpaca has no crimp! Most Huacaya alpaca fleeces DO have good crimp. At the Mount Airy Alpaca Company, we sold fine quality, well-skirted alpaca fleeces to hand spinners as well as hats made from handspun yarn and hand knit by us. These are 100% natural items made and produced entirely on our farm with no chemicals. And we didn’t just sell them, we wore them ourselves so we know how they washed, wore, and warmed.