Saturday, 11 October 2014

Guest Blogger ~ Houghton Hall Alpacas





Why Aren’t You Knitting With Alpaca Fleece?


Well, autumn is well and truly upon us, 
the nights are drawing in and everyone is begrudgingly heaving out last year’s knits. 
So, we think now is the perfect time to promote the benefits of the lustrous, 
cosy and itch-free alpaca fibre. 
Now we might be biased as we have been breeding these wonderful animals for more than 10 years 
But don’t just take our word for it, 
ask anyone that has worked with alpacas,
there is a reason why the Incas called this fantastic fibre ‘The Gold of the Andes’. 
Alpaca fleece is incredibly versatile; from spinning and felting to being hypoallergenic, 
are you ready to find out more?


There are an estimated 3 million alpacas worldwide. 
Huacaya alpacas have a tight crimped and dense fleece that comes directly out of the skin, 
and it will grow between 4 -5 inches a year. 
Suris’ produce approximately double this as their fleece is much longer 
and hangs down the body in loose, silky locks.  
There is a huge demand for alpaca fibre coming from the fashion industries of Italy, China 
and others as the must have fibre to replace cashmere; 
which has seen a significant reduction in quality due to attempts to make it more affordable and sustainable. 


So what is it that is driving the need for the fleece? 
Alpaca fibre is incredibly useful 
and versatile making it an ideal material that is being applied in a multitude of industries. 
Alpaca fleece be can easily mixed or blended with other fibres from wool, 
to silk and even synthetics.  
It is exceptionally light weight, 
yet has excellent thermal properties making it very popular for winter clothing. 
Due to the structure of the alpaca fibres virtually no pilling occurs in the wearing of the fabric, 
so it is incredibly durable.
It is also second only to silk for natural fibres in strength, 
proof of these extraordinary properties is archaeologists have recently discovered intact Inca tunics. 


Why is it so versatile? 
The wonderful thing about alpaca fibre is that it is so unbelievably adaptable, 
from clothing and wall hangings, to carpets and upholstery, and even housing insulation. 
The story doesn’t end there either as alpaca fleece is also put to good use as homes for birds 
and native wildlife, as well as being used for its incredible ability to absorb oil; 
meaning that it has been utilised to aid in the clean up after environmental disasters. 


Not only is it useful, but alpacas and their fleece are environmentally friendly. 
They have soft padded feet so don’t poach the ground, 
are incredibly efficient eaters, and do not produce lanolin like sheep or goats, 
which can cause an allergic reaction in some people. 
The lack of this oil product means that you don’t need high temperatures 
and harsh chemicals to process it. 
Similarly, with the fleece coming in over 20 officially recognised colours 
(and all those in between) there is no need to use dyes for those that are environmentally conscious. 
Even more fabulously, 
if you buy your yarn or fleece directly from a breeder the fibre can be traced straight 
back to the alpaca that produced it! 
What’s not to love about that?


So what are you waiting for? 
Get knitting, crocheting and felting! 

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