Alpaca fiber is very dense and is fluffy
fiber was highly prized by the Inca in the high
country (altiplano) of the Andes and the finest
fiber was reserved only for royalty. Today,
over 35,000 alpacas are being raised in the
U.S. for their silky fiber, known for its softness,
and hypo-allergenic properties. Alpaca
fiber is hollow, which increases its insulating
capabilities, and does not contain the heavy
lanolin found in sheep's wool.
Top European fashion designers
have used alpaca for decades in their high-end
garments, and alpaca is gaining popularity throughout
the world. In the U.S. it has been a hand-crafters'
fiber of choice, however, a number of specialty
fiber processing mills are being operated in
Alpaca fiber hangs in long twisted locks
and is very silky
Alpaca fiber is commonly sold
according to it fineness, and the "hand"
or touch-factor of the fiber. The finest alpaca
grade is known as baby, but can be from an animal
of any age. It received this name because most
animal's fiber becomes slightly coarser as they
age. Lighter colors are generally finer than
dark because of a decades long effort in South
America to breed only whites at the request
of European textile mills who preferred to dye
the fabric rather than use natural colors. There
are 16 colors recognized today, but are dozens
of shades in between, ranging from white to
beige, brown and gray and black.