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The World Of Camelids

Alpaca's history is a colorful one. Animals that have been around for 6,000 years.

Creative picture credits go to Linda Gardner : Blue Moon Ranch Alpacas

Alpacas were almost wiped out several times in their history and the fact that alpaca herds exist today is a testament to their hardiness.

Colorful Alpacas courtesy of Linda Gardner: Blue Moon Ranch Alpacas

Teaching a child to be responsible for other lives, instills quality values..

Creative picture credits go to Linda Gardner : Blue Moon Ranch Alpacas

Alpacas are members of the Camelid family- the same family as the Camels found in the Middle East. But the Camelid family in South America has 4 species.

Peaceful Cria courtesy of Linda Gardner: Blue Moon Ranch Alpacas

Alpacas are herd animals and need to be kept in a herd. Most reputable breeders recommend buying at least 3.

Creative picture credits go to Linda Gardner : Blue Moon Ranch Alpacas

Only the best of the best males are  used for breeding, and a reputable breeder know the difference between a breeding male, a pet, fiber, or companion boy. 

 Mojo courtesy of Linda Gardner: Blue Moon Ranch Alpacas

The Alpaca weighs between 100 to 175 pounds, standing at about 36 inches at the withers. Their life span is  15–25 years. 

Creative picture credits go to Linda Gardner : Blue Moon Ranch Alpacas

Alpacas are herd animals, NOT PETS. They can be taught to tolerate handling  but most alpacas prefer to be left alone with their herdmates. Alpacas are like cats; will come to you on their own terms. A reputable breeder can educate you about these wonderful herd animals.

 Kisses courtesy of Linda Gardner: Blue Moon Ranch Alpacas

Thinking about owning an Alpaca? Try not to think about how those eyes look at you, and think about poop scooping, hay purchasing, hauling water in bad weather, and  especially  the long term commitment you are making to these creatures.

Creative picture credits go to Linda Gardner : Blue Moon Ranch Alpacas

 Huacaya courtesy of Linda Gardner: Blue Moon Ranch 

We are learning about these soulful creatures every day, as there is so much more to learn. Owning an alpaca will be some of  the most peaceful years  in your life.

Suri Alpaca are more rare, consisting of about 10% of Alpaca in the USA.

 Picture credit go to Aaron Logan : LightMatter PhotographyightMatter PhotographyightMatter Photography

Due to the fact that Suri Alpaca's are rarer, you should expect to pay a bit more for the fiber and yarn. 

 Picture credit go to Aaron Logan : LightMatter Photographyight

 Suri photo  courtesy of Gateway Ranch Alpacas

Suri fleece grows parallel to their body in what some people call a dreadlock look. The suri have a silky sheen to their fleece.

 Suri photo  courtesy of Gateway Ranch Alpacas

There are many different types of locks with the Suri breed. Some may be wide and flat, with little twist, others can be very thin with lots of twist, and others have some curl to them. There is no "correct lock structure" established within the group themselves.

The Llama are 2 times the size of an Alpaca standing 40–45 inches at the withers and 5.5 feet and larger at the head. They can weigh between 280 and 450 pounds and the average lifespan is 15 to 30 years.

 

 

The Vicuña is the smallest member of the Camelid family, the Vicuña is thought to be the wild ancestor of the alpaca. The Vicuña is a rare wild animal which sports hair less than half the diameter of the finest sheep's wool.

Because its wool is hollow core fiber, vicuna wool is finer than any other wool. That means that the wool is softer, lighter and warmer than any other wool on this earth.

 

The Guanaco are native to South America standing between 3.5 and 4 feet at the withers and weighs about 200 lbs. Their life span is 20 to 25 years. Guanaco fibre is particularly prized for its soft, warm feel and is found in luxury fabric.

The guanaco's soft wool is valued second only to that of the Vicuña.

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A Bit about Alpacas

Hucaya on the Left - Suri on the Righthucaya and suri alpacas from Wombat Farms

Alpaca fiber has softness like no other natural fiber. Huacaya alpaca is crimpy and soft. Suri alpaca is silky and lustrous. It is also very lightweight, yet warmer than wool. Each individual strand of fiber is hollow or some have said semi- hollow.( you alpaca people will have to let me know) This gives alpaca a tremendous thermal capacity that allows for a breathable fiber with an insulating nature.

Alpaca insulates from cool and warm temperatures. We have heard that it cools in the summer and warms in the winter, but personal experience would not let us wear alpaca in the summer months. It is very hot and will keep you toasty in the winter, but to say it has the same properties as silk, just is not our experience.

Alpacas come naturally in 22 color variations; the spectrum includes white, fawn, brown, gray and black, with all the natural shades in between. Most of the Alpacas in the USA are sheared once a year. The fiber is sorted from blanket, leg and neck and belly, and many Alpaca raisers are sorting the blankets for grades as well.

There are different uses for the fiber based on the animals microns:
•Ultra fine - 20 microns and under - Make nice next to the skin items
•Superfine - 20-23 microns - Gently used items such as shawls and baby items
•Fine - 23-25 microns - Most versatile and the microns we see most.
•Medium - 26-30 microns - Socks, throws, outer wear and felt if little guard hairs, rugs.
This is also the average micron for the American Alpacas
•Coarser - 30+ microns - Batt's, insulation and rugs some people like this yarn to make purses and outerwear, felt for slippers, etc.
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According to Yocum-McColl Testing Laboratory, the average micron count in all U.S. Alpaca Animals is 28.

As processors, we have found that Alpaca is a heavier fiber, Suri being the heavier of the two Alpaca.
Check the photos on our Yarn Weights page to see what we mean.

The Huacaya Alpaca


Huacaya fleece grows perpendicular to their body giving them the fluffy look. Huacaya alpaca is crimpy and soft.
To us, Spinderellas, Huacaya has a warm, soft feel.
Realizing there is an issue in the alpaca world, as to whether to call the curves in the alpaca fiber crimp or crinkle- we chose to say crimp.

Crimp or wave of the fiber is related to the fineness of the fiber - the finer the fiber, the smaller the crimp. The coarser the fiber the more spread apart the crimp is.

According to Cameron Holt.....
Crimp in a 20 micron alpaca fiber averaged 40 curvature/crimps compared to a 30 micron fiber which has 30 curvature/crimps.

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Huacaya Locks
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Here is a lock of alpaca under the microscope. You can see the scales which create little air pockets giving it a great insulation value. Compare how many scales on a lock of alpaca to a lock of wool- See our page About Wool.

If you want to know more about crimp or curvature in wool or alpaca, visit:  AWTA

The Suri Alpaca

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Suri Alpaca are more rare, consisting of about 10% of Alpaca in the USA. Their fleece grows parallel to their body in what some people call a dreadlock look. The suri have a silky sheen to their fleece. Due to the fact that Suri Alpaca's are rarer, you should expect to pay a bit more for the fiber and yarn.

Suri alpaca has a silky feel with a bit of luster or sheen. To us, Suri has a colder wet feel to the fiber. Hard to explain- but a nice fiber, none the less.

There are many different types of locks with the Suri breed. Some may be wide and flat, with little twist, others can be very thin with lots of twist, and others have some curl to them. There is no "correct lock structure" established within the group themselves.

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Suri Alpaca Locks

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