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Saturday, 4 February 2012

Ten 'Top Facts' about Alpaca - 'Mystery Bag' Reveal

I love the colour of this fibre and you can see the natural crimp

1)    The Ancient Peruvians used Alpaca fleece to make clothes for royalty, it was known as 'The Fibre of the Gods'.  It was a status symbol and a prized trade item.  Textiles were the highest form of tribute and more highly valued than gold and silver.

2)    Alpacas were domesticated in Ancient South America as much as 6000 years ago.  Milenia of selective  breeding produced the finest fibre.  Alpaca were said to be on loan from the Gods for as long as the human race could treat them with kindness.  They were highly prized, providing fibre, food and fuel.  The Spanish Invaders failed to recognise the 'Treasure of the people' they were blinded by the Gold and Silver.   90% of Alpaca were slaughtered almost to extinction.

3)    In 1989 there were only about 150 Alpaca in the UK, now there are more than 20 000.

4)    Alpaca is as soft as cashmere yet lighter in weight, stronger and warmer than wool.

5)    Alpaca is warmer than wool and is said to be 30% warmer than Merino.

6)    Alpaca comes in 22 natural colours, reducing the need for dye.  However white Alpaca is in demand and takes dye particularly well.   British Alpaca Society 'Alpaca Fibre Colour Chart'

7)    Alpacas are sheared annually and each fleece will weigh between 2 and 5 kg.

8)    There is no lanolin in Alpaca fibre so this makes it hypoallergenic and more suitable for people with wool allergies.

9)     Alpaca fibre is naturally fire retardant.

10)   Alpaca is second only to silk for strength and durability.

Reveal!  A very guilty secret.  Nine large bags of 'Raw' Alpaca.  My friend is a Dog Groomer and one of her clients has 'Pet' Alpaca.  This fleece has been in her shed for a while.  It has been given to me on the understanding I make something for the Alpaca Owner from the fleece.  I spun for about three hours yesterday and have about a third of a bobbin full.  It did make me think of our friend 'Rumpelstiltskin' again.  This is going to be a labour intensive journey into the heart of darkness!  I wonder how long I can get away with keeping the fleece mountain a secret.  I am sure to get quite a reaction when it gets discovered.  Euan stood aghast looking at it.  He said "Mom, what?  What the?  You need to learn to say no!  If anybody asks you again just say no!  You have enough for years here!"  From the mouths of babes eh?  Could you resist such a treasure hoard?  Fibre of the Gods and all that.  It could be worse I could have got a real live Alpaca, Lord knows I am tempted.   I am hoping to go to The Premier Event for British Alpaca - in March, who knows what I could come back with?


  1. That makes my single alpaca fleece look rather measley!! You are going to be very busy there!! If you are going to the Alpaca event at the NEC I might see you there!!

    Have fun!

    LOL the verification code for this post is flesse, which is probably as close to fleece as you can get!

  2. Ooh how lovely, I can't wait to see what you do.with.all.that!! No spinner in their right mind would of turned that away.

  3. Dear Lucy, you need a farm. You are one lucky girl to have been given all that Alpaca fiber for *FREE*! Tell Euen that the value of that is worth hundreds of dollars, then he might understand better why his mom didn't say "no". :-) I'm jealous!! I've been spinning natural colored Alpaca for over 30 years!
    ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

  4. Dear Lucy,

    When I saw those black bags on the earlier blog I wondered at first if you were doing a bit more clearing out. But when I saw they had no sharp edges and were all of a regular size and shape I guessed it was something to do with wool. And I really love Euan's reaction to this, urm, project ... especially since you appear to "owe" a gift to the person whose pet grew all this stuff. Isn't that a bit like chucking your hedge cuttings into a neighbour's garden and expecting a topiary budgie in return?

    Love from Sue(sil) xxx

  5. Claire that would be fun, I am thinking about going on the Saturday, it would be good to see you :) Are you going to the annual exhibition in July? We have been invited to join Stratford guilds coach for a lift. We really should meet up and spin our Alpaca fluff together...I am finding mine makes a mess!

    Knitting Nix you have made me feel much better ta :)

    Teresa, I told Euan, his reaction was 'Well let's sell it then!' He doesn't get it!

    Sue, I am a bit concerned about making a 'Gift' for payment, I just hope she aint expecting anything special, I do a fine line in mug cosies, wristwarmers, scarves or Granny Squares and then they take me years!

  6. I'm hoping to go to the national exhibition on the coach, well I've pre-warned DH! ;)

    Just a thought for the gift, how about something like this shame the pattern isn't free, but rather cute anyway!

  7. good Lord!!!!! That is a mountain!! I know what you mean I am that close to getting an alpacca. Hed snuggle up with the dog right?

  8. Claire, Thanks so much for that the pattern is adorable. I will definitely give it a go. Mine will probably turn out like a wonky Donkey though :)
    Louise, I am sure they snuggle up with the dog, I also read it is possible to house train an Alpaca they are very clean. The trouble is they like company of their own kind so we have to get more than one each. :)

  9. I'm with you all the way here! I am able to get waste yarn from a local weaver. There is no way you can say 'no'. You never know what it might come in handy for!

  10. oooooh i've always wanted an alpaca and love love love alpaca fleece and wool ❤
    we used to have three alpaca neighbours (including the cuuuuutest baby), but they've moved :(

    i've got a nice soft alpaca stuffed pillow (twas a pressie). you could always use part of the stash to fill cushions and pillows until you want to spin with it.

  11. How wonderful!!!! that is A LOOOOOT OF alpaca!!!! can't wait to see what you do with it!

  12. That's a lot of alpaca! I have the same problem saying no to more fibre.

    Have fun at the Alpaca show, sounds great but miles away for me.


I appreciate and enjoy reading all of the feedback from your comments. Thank you for taking the time to stop by and sharing your thoughts. Sadly I have found it necessary to enable word verification, something I was trying to avoid...but I am receiving an unmanageable deluge of Spam! We don't want that do we? xxx :)