The Joy of Alpaca Wool Sweaters

23rd June 2010

The Joy of Alpaca Wool Sweaters The alpaca is part of the camelid family that includes guanacos, vicunas, and llamas, and their ancestry dates back some 10 million years. Most of the world’s population comes from the highlands of South American countries along the Andes Mountains, especially Peru. The animals are highly valued for their high-quality wool that is used to make yarn and clothing, namely alpaca wool sweaters.

The variety of the species produces fleece in twenty-two natural colours from pure white through shades of brown and gray to black, and dyes well for even more choices. The luster and durability of this natural fibre makes it a highly desirable commodity for textiles and clothing manufacturers, and most of the domesticated animals are bred for this purpose.

An alpaca wool sweater is a luxurious garment that provides ample warmth due to its close-knit, longer fibres that are softer and lighter than other wool yarns. Sweaters are certainly not the only things made from alpaca wool. Virtually any article of winter clothing can now be found in alpaca wool, including scarves, shawls, gloves, socks, and caps, as well as rugs, dresses. What are some of the things that make an alpaca wool sweater so special? For one, it’s a rare import whose allure is increased simply by where and how it’s made. There are still plenty of crafters who knit this type of clothing by hand, many of whom are descendents of ancient Inca civilizations, and the care and personal attention a garment receives is a valuable aspect of its creation. There are specific grades of alpaca fleece from coarse to fine, rated in terms of microns. Microns are a measure of the size of individual hairs of fibre. The higher grades of fleece, like “baby alpaca,”and “super-fine,” have a lower micron range than inferior grades. Consequently, the garments made from high-grade fibres are more valuable, and more expensive.

Alpaca yarn has a silky almost ‘buttery’ texture compared to cashmere and many people may prefer the feel of an alpaca wool sweater to a cashmere sweater because of this. Alpacas are docile creatures that capture the hearts of those who breed them, and some of the animals appear in national shows sponsored by one of several organizations, including the Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association and British Alpaca Association.

Alpaca wool is a superior fibre in terms of durability and versatility, since it naturally resists dust, water, wrinkles, and stains. An alpaca wool sweater will therefore stand the test of time. These are the reasons why gifts of alpaca clothing are treasured by recipients who cherish the garments for years, and the variety of colors and styles available make them a preferred choice by many who wear hand-made clothes on a regular basis.

These products do require a degree of special care to ensure their longevity. Most items of clothing should be hand-washed in either baby shampoo or a mild detergent, since they won’t hold up well in machine washers and dryers. The garments can then be laid out flat to air dry. This ensures that the garment retains its shape and doesn’t stretch or wear prematurely.