Learn more about some of the major fiber types!
Alpaca yarn comes from this South American mammal that’s closely related to the llama. Alpaca fiber is very strong and projects knit in it will be very durable and long lasting. Like wool, it can absorb moisture and still feel dry next to the skin, making it perfect for Portland winters and springs. Alpaca fiber has a sheen to it that wool typically does not. Also, many people with wool sensitivities can wear alpaca without complaint. Alpaca looks best when the knit fabric has some texture, though complex cables should be avoided because they are heavy and alpaca will not bounce back into shape if it becomes stretched out. Also, because of the lack of memory, ribbing knit in alpaca will not pull in the way it does when knit in wool. Alpaca can be blended with wool or cashmere to add memory to a finished project.
Alpaca yarn will make durable, long-wearing garments. Alpaca yarn has similar moisture properties to wool, being able to absorb a good deal of moisture while maintaining a warm and dry feel against the skin. Alpaca has far fewer scales, however, which helps contribute to its lustrous appearance. Also, the alpaca does not secrete lanolin, so the fleece is far cleaner and more hypoallergenic for those with lanolin sensitivities.
Alpaca has a smooth, dense, and lustrous hand, absorbing dye readily and reflecting it back with brilliance and luster. When knit, alpaca produces a dense, relaxed fabric that drapes beautifully on the body. Alpaca is well-suited for garments that will rest directly against the skin–even that of babies.
Any kind of ribbing in pure alpaca will be decorative only–the yarn won’t reliably keep your fabric snug. If cables and ribbing are your thing, that’s OK, too. Just stick with a yarn that blends alpaca with a loftier, more elastic fiber, such as wool.
Although not as warm as cashmere, alpaca fiber has a hollow core that helps it hold in heat, making it several times warmer than wool.
Purchase your alpaca yarn in any quantity or weight you’d like, using our Custom Yarn Creator!
- Type of fiber: Protein (derived from animal)
- Hand: Lustrous and drapey
- Care: Hand wash recommended
Source: The Knitter’s Book of Yarn: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing, Using, and Enjoying Yarn by Clara Parkes
Here is one of our favorite 100% bamboo yarns, Gold Spike: