Friday, 12 October 2018

Fibre Focus: Alpaca


Alpaca fibre comes from alpacas, which are closely related to, but distinct from, llamas. They are adorably fluffy creatures native to South America, and have also been known to thrive in the Scottish climate! The yarn produced from these fibres is well known for its softness and its excellent warmth.

Alpaca fibre naturally contains two types of hair: the softer, shorter undercoat hair, and the longer, scratchier guard hairs. Usually, the guard hairs are removed during the spinning process but sometimes a few can slip through and give the yarn a prickly feel. If you find any of these while you’re working with the yarn, you can just pull them out and carry on!

Most alpaca yarns have a lovely drape to them, but no natural stretch. This means that they will produce a beautifully floppy, slightly heavy fabric perfect for loose fitting garments, scarves, blankets etc. The flip side of this, however, is that these same yarns often lack the elasticity required for items which are mostly ribbed, or which need to stay upright e.g. socks, skirts or the dreaded 2x2 ribbed boob tube. To introduce a greater measure of elasticity, some alpaca yarns have a chainette construction, which makes them more stretchy. Similarly, Rowan Alpaca Soft is blended with wool, which gives the yarn more bounce and makes it suitable for a huge range of projects.

Here are some of our favourite alpaca and alpaca-blend yarns: