About eight years ago, I was first introduced to alpaca fiber by a Peruvian factory. At the time I have only heard about the fiber, but never felt nor worn a sweater made out of it. Well into our meeting, Carlos the factory representative blew me away after sharing the important attributes of alpaca yarn.
For the rest of the day I spent hours finding out all there is to know about this luxurious sustainable fiber and the animal itself. The more I researched, the more I was intrigued.
ALPACA'S HISTORY OF ORIGIN
The alpaca animal takes pride on the long history of Peruvian culture with intricate textiles of alpaca fiber being used from around 2500 B.C. to present day. In ancient times, the finest alpaca clothing was worn only by Incan royalty and reflects a social status.
Alpacas to this day plays an important role in the Peruvian social and economic culture. Supporting alpaca material helps the livelihood of over 1 million alpaca farmers in Andean communities.
WHY AREN'T WE ALL USING ALPACA FIBER?
ALPACAS ARE GENTLE TO THE ENVIRONMENT
- Alpaca comes in 22 different natural shades of color, ranging from ivory to camels to black, avoiding dying process.
- Low grease content reduces water, energy and chemical consumption to treat the washing process compared to other animal fibers.
- Alpacas generally eat less and has a gentle manner, giving life for the plant to regrow and be fed again. Other natural producing animals eat twice as much, such as cashmere goats.
- Hooves are softer than other live animals such as sheep and goats, with minimal effect on pasture-land.
- Garments made of 100% alpaca are biodegradable (more than 50% of our collection is made of 100% baby alpaca).
PRACTICALITY OF ALAPCA FIBER
- Living in the Andes mountains, alpacas adapt to harsh climates allowing their natural coats to insulate heat/cold, sheds water and wicks moisture.
- The fiber is naturally hypoallergenic. Unlike sheep's wool which produces lanolin a greasy secretion that causes allergy.
- Alpaca garments are an investment. The strength of the material increases the clothing's longevity.
- Its fiber is silkier, lighter and warmer than any other natural animal fiber.
Even though I've never met an alpaca, after all the years of research and countless cute photos, I felt a deep connection with the camel-like animals. Their animated features with long ears, thick lips and bashful appearance along with eyes that express curiosity, makes me want to take one home as a pet.
You bet once the travel bans are lifted, I will be visiting my spiritual animal friends in Peru. I imagine them being gentle, calm manner and quite affectionate. Social mammals as they are, I hope to spend some time with them in the Andes Mountains and see them in their own natural habitat.