Alpacas originate from the Andes of Peru. They are valued for their fleece which is used for making a range of products but, primarily, high quality knitted and woven products in a similar fashion to sheep’s wool.
Alpacas are social herd animals that live in groups with a distinct social hierarchy. They are inquisitive, gentle, elegant, intelligent and observant. They like having their own space and may not like an unfamiliar animal getting too close, especially from behind. They will warn the herd of any intruders by making sharp, noisy inhalations that sound like a high pitch bray.
There are two types of alpaca: Huacaya, which produce a dense, soft, sheep-like fibre and the Suri who produce a mop-like silky fleece made up of pencil pleats.
Alpaca fleece comes in twenty-two natural shades and is incredibly soft and silky. It is one of the few “noble” fibres and is often compared to cashmere. It far more comfortable than sheep’s wool because of the make up of the individual fibres which reduce the “prickle” factor.